ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Claiming fears of Sharia law and more attacks like the Crossroads Mall stabbing, a number of St. Cloud residents took advantage of a public comment period to demand their city council look more closely at the issue of refugee resettlement in the area.
Five people spoke during the 10-minute long public comment meeting at Monday’s St. Cloud City Council meeting.
Speakers ranged from non-specifically calling for a more in-depth discussion of the refugee situation, to asking for actions to be taken to prevent more attacks like the Crossroads Mall attack, to ensuring the continuation of the rule of law.
“We have to have some rules,” a woman who identified herself as Kay Steiner said. “I don’t care what religion or what background you come from. The rule of law has to prevail and if we don’t have that we’re not going to have a nation anymore.”
One woman drove in from Minneapolis to talk about the issues there, where several young Somali men worked to join ISIS. The woman did not identify herself, but said she was attempting to collect data in order to examine what she called a “stealth invasion.”
“We are beginning the arduous task of collecting data on this stealth invasion. We are here to request information from you,” she said. “How many refugees are coming? From where? And what will be the costs? How do the expected arrivals fit the city plan? And then who should I follow up with in a few weeks?
The harshest rhetoric came from St. Cloud resident and Republican candidate for governor Christopher Chamberlin. Though Chamberlin started by just calling for an examination of the economic and social costs of the refugee settlement program, his two minutes quickly turned to an attack on Islam and what he perceives to be fundamental flaws with the religion.
“Now you have seen I’m sure many people say ‘It’s not about Islam, it’s not about Sharia.’ It is,” Chamberlin said. “Sharia law is the very basis for every demand that Muslims make on society today. Whether it be special treatment in hospitals, books being vetted, women wearing headscarves, the ownership of their bride, four male witnesses to provide a testimony against a rape. This is not what America stands for and this is not what my home St. Cloud stands for.”
City Council members were not allowed to respond during the public comment forum. Instead, a member of the city’s administration is supposed to send follow-up communications to the speakers.
Video of the full meeting is available online and for download on St. Cloud’s website. The public comment portion starts around the 17-minute mark of the July 11 City Council meeting.