Maine Mayor: Somalis Need To Accept Our Culture

A Maine mayor says Somalis need to accept American culture and leave their culture at the door.

Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald sparked criticism when he told the BBC that the town’s Somali population should “accept our culture and leave your culture at the door.” The Maine mayor’s Somalis statement has created anger among the sizable immigrant population and brought many to call for his resignation, The Associated Press reported.

The statements drew protests among the town’s Somali population, The Associated Press reported. A group of about 50 protesters rallied outside City Hall on Thursday before delivering 1,400 petitions to the Maine mayor’s office, calling for his resignation.

“Basically, he’s telling us to forget who we were,” said Nimo Yonis, 26, one of an about 6,000 Somali refugees who now live in Lewiston and the neighboring city of Auburn. “Just leaving your culture at the door is leaving what you believe, what you stand for and who you are at the door.”

Many have noted that the Maine mayor’s Somalis comment appears to be calling on them to abandon their religion. Macdonald tried to clarify his comments, saying immigrants should try to assimilate into American culture and that he didn’t mean anything derogatory by the comments.

The incident recalls past controversy for the town. In 2002, then-Mayor Larry Raymond wrote a letter asking Somali leaders to discourage their people from moving to Lewiston, saying that the town’s resources were too strained.

Lewiston’s Somali population began growing in 2001, attracted by the town’s supply of affordable housing. By 2002 the Somali population had grown to 1,000 there, and today the town that had traditionally had a large French population has 6,000 Somalis, NECN reported.

Do you think the Maine mayor’s Somalis comments warrant his resignation?