URBANDALE, Iowa -- Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright campaigned and connected with members at the Ezan Islamic and Educational Center on Wednesday.
Secretary Albright shared a message of the importance of voting and the privilege it is to be an American. The 79-year- old immigrated to the United States from the Czech Republic at the age of 11.
“This election campaign is dividing people instead of bringing people together. It’s making us dislike each other which is totally un-American.”
Many at the mosque were Bosnian immigrants who fled the Bosnian war and genocide. More than 12,000 Bosnian immigrants now call Iowa home. Secretary Albright says during that time, she along with former president Clinton visited Bosnia several times to discuss how to help the country.
“Through all the things that were happening in Bosnia, President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton were always supportive that we do something.”
Mosque member, Amir Suljic, says Albright’s visit to the mosque comes at a crucial time. He says many Bosnian-Americans don’t feel like their voices matter.
“It’s really important for us since we are living here now; we actually have a voice in what’s going on and the policies that make our lives better.”
Suljic says he hopes members in his community vote for the same reason that brought many of them to America.
“Just look at the history back then how much more welcoming the American citizens were to the Bosnian refugees and to just hear people not wanting Syrian refugees to come in because of fears of terrorism . It’s just really heartbreaking because these refugees are impacted by terrorism themselves.”
On Thursday, Albright will stop at the Ames Together Office, 104 Kellogg Avenue at 2:30 p.m. She will then head to the Ankeny Iowa Together Officer, 925 East First Street at 4:15 pm.