FOLLOWUP II: Vermont Bacon Ad – behind the pork
The “bacon story” will probably not be the last report of a cultural clash in this area of New England.
We indicated in our original report that a quick search did not disclose a mosque/masjid or Islamic center in the town of Winooski. A 2010 census indicated the city population was 7,267. Several days later, Peter Wilson wrote in the American Thinker:
Unfortunately, Winooski is home to a number of Muslims whose religion teaches them that pigs are filthy animals. Like Jules in “Pulp Fiction,” they do not dig on swine.
Winooski’s Muslim population is mainly Somali Bantus, originally black Africans from southeast Africa, brought north by Arab slave traders (but that’s another story). Many Bantus fled to Kenya during the Black Hawk Down period of anarchy in the early 1990s, and in 1999, the United States admitted 12,000 as refugees.
According to the Burlington Free Press, the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program resettled the majority of Somali refugees in Winooski, which has “a large number of relatively inexpensive rental units near jobs and public transit.” In 2009, “About a third of the students in the Winooski public-school system [were] English language learners… up from about 20 percent of the student population four years ago.” Note that ten years after their arrival, the refugees’ children remain “English language learners.”
A more detailed search on our end disclosed the following:
Somali Bantu Community Association of Vermont, Inc.
325 Main Street, Suite 8
Winooski, VT 05404
Islamic Society of Vermont
Suite 1, 182 Hegeman Ave
Colchester, VT 05446
Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program
462 Hegeman Ave, Suite 101
Colchester, VT 05446
While Wilson’s article focuses on Somali refugees, the area’s Muslim population is more diverse. The town of Colchester is about 5 miles north of Winooski, VT and is the location of the Islamic Society of Vermont and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. According to a 2014 news report, there are about 3,200 Muslims living in Vermont, many being refugees from Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia and Syria. Most arrived under U.S. resettlement programs and reside in Chittenden County, VT. This county includes the cities of Colchester, Winooski, as well as Burlington – the state’s largest city.
Vermont media coverage of the state’s growing Muslim population tends to have a positive spin, usually focusing on cultural diversity. There have been a few exceptions:
• Bosnian refugee Edin Sakoc, 54, of Burlington (a naturalized U.S. citizen) is currently facing charges of lying to immigration authorities about his involvement in war crimes as well as bribery. The Burlington Free Press reported:
A Bosnian war crimes suspect living in Burlington has been accused of trying to bribe people in his homeland who witnessed what he allegedly did, federal prosecutors in Vermont say in a new court filing.
“The government has been informed by some of its Bosnian witnesses that defendant attempted to bribe witnesses through intermediaries for testimony favorable to the defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia Cowles and Matthew Singer, a senior federal trial attorney in Washington D.C. claim in a motion filed with U.S. District Court in Vermont last week.
Edin Sakoc, 54, is facing charges he lied to immigration officials by denying, when he entered the United States in 2001 as a refugee, that he committed any crimes while in Bosnia.
He also allegedly repeated the lie in 2007 when he applied to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. If found guilty, he could be deported. Sakoc has pleaded not to the charges.
According to court filings, Sakoc raped a Bosnian Serb woman in July 1992, aided in the murders of two elderly men who were under her care and set fire to their family home.
• In 2010 Ali Abdi, a Somali refugee residing in Burlington, was convicted of sexual assault on a 9-year-old girl. Of note is that part of his defense was based on having a “different cultural background”. According to www.wcax.com:
Ali Abdi was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years to life in prison for sexual assault on a 9-year-old girl, despite pleas to the judge from two of his children.
Abdi had taken off during his trial, and was captured out of state. The jury was not told he ran away. He was convicted.
Abdi’s lawyer argued that the case has to be viewed as different from others, because Abdi comes from a different cultural background– he is a Somali Bantu. His lawyer, Erik Smart, told the judge that Abdi fled Somalia and spent 13 years in a refugee camp before arriving in Burlington. Smart says the Somali Bantu community has forgiven Abdi.
“I would venture to say this community views this crime differently than our own community would,” Smart told the court.
Following an appeal, in 2012 a new trial was ordered for Adbi because the Vermont Supreme Court opined that, “a juror might have been influenced by information about Somali culture he found on the Internet.”
• A 2012 article in Seven Days Vermont reported that despite being listed as one of the “safest cities in America”, crime is increasing in the city of Burlington, VT. One of the instances cited:
In one case, a 24-year-old Somali immigrant was robbed and stabbed by his alleged accomplices over their share of the loot from a series of thefts. On August 19, Ahmed Hirmoge stumbled into the Champlain Farms at South Winooski Avenue and Main Street at 4:20 a.m., bloodied from stab wounds. He told the clerk someone had “jumped” him behind the convenience store and took his cellphone, bicycle, leather jacket and $130 in cash.
According to police, Hirmoge said he knew the guys who robbed him: They were all breaking into cars the weekend before and scattered when a Burlington police cruiser rolled by. Hirmoge told police he went to the gas station to “get a drink” and ran into his cohorts there, who collected their share of the “proceeds” by force.
Within hours, police had arrested two teenagers for assault and robbery: Connor Fitzgerald, a 17-year-old high school senior from South Burlington with a tattoo on his neck that reads “wild boy”; and Tam Mai, a 16-year-old with a criminal record that began when he was just 10.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: As we previously reported, since 2008, refugees from predominately Muslim countries have accounted for over 50 percent of refugee admissions to the U.S. each year. Emergency allocation increases are being requested based on the current situation in Syria and Iraq. It would be a safe assumption that Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program will be handling a share of the future influx of refugees, placing them in the Chittenden County, VT area. The “bacon story” will probably not be the last report of a cultural clash in this area of New England.