October 9, 2002

OCTOBER 9, 2002 STEVEN ROWE, Attorney General 207-626-8599

Attorney General Steven Rowe today sent a letter to Maine Somalis. Several hundred copies of the letter, translated to the Somali language, were hand-delivered to Somali leaders in Lewiston and to places where Somalis gather in the Lewiston area. What follows is the complete text of the letter in English. Translated copies are available upon request.

October 9, 2002

Dear Members of the Somali Community in Maine,

I am writing to let you know how important you are to our Maine community. In just a short time, you have made significant contributions to the State of Maine. Through your work, cultural traditions, languages and religion, you have significantly added to the richness of this great State.

The horrors of civil war and factional fighting have caused great suffering in Somalia for the past decade, causing more than a half-million deaths. Many of you lost family and friends to the war and ensuing famine. You came to this country after being forced from your homeland.

You came here seeking freedom, opportunity and equality. You came here so that you could live in peace. You came here so that your children could have educational and economic opportunities. You came here so that you could work and advance as far as your talents and your willingness to work hard would take you. In short, you came here hoping to make a better life for you and your families.

I realize that for many of you those hopes have not been fully realized. Many of you do not feel safe and welcome. Instead of enjoying the opportunities you sought, many of you continue to live with fear and anxiety. Please know that the vast, vast majority of Maine residents want you to feel welcome and safe. We welcome you as fellow citizens and residents and we want you to know that you are a valued part of our communities and our State.

Members of the Office of the Attorney General will do everything within our power to work with local law enforcement officials to ensure that the civil rights of all Maine residents are protected. We will strive to ensure that Maine is a safe, tolerant and respectful place for everyone to live. We look forward to working with you toward that end.

Thank you.


G. Steven Rowe Attorney General