Nigerian community concerned about backlash

December 28, 2009 (CHICAGO) The Nigerian community in the Chicagoland area reacted with surprise to the news that 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been charged with attempting to blow up a plane on Christmas Day, thereby endangering hundreds of innocent lives.

"We are in shock about this and we are concerned. We do not want the American people to rush into judgment, criminalizing all Nigerians," Lanre Amu said .

Amu, an attorney in Chicago and Nigerian immigrant, says that, from what is known, it appears that Abdulmutallab was being used by foreign elements outside of Nigeria in a struggle that does not concern them.

"These are foreign elements using a Nigerian individual. We do not want a backlash from this on Nigerians in this country," said Amu.

Amu says that in Nigeria, people call the United States "God's country."

There are a number of popular Nigerian restaurants in Chicago's North Side. One is Iyanze, where ABC7 talked with Nigerian immigrant Philip Adekunie, who runs an online site called the Nigerian Village Square.

"We as a community are totally shocked and condemn the act of terrorism on Christmas Day in Detroit," Adekuni said.

Adekuni questions how Abdulmutallab was able to board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with powerful explosives hidden on his body, especially considering his father had warned foreign security agencies two months ago that his son may of been radicalized through contacts with extremists via the internet.

"He should have been on the watch list. I am surprised he was allowed to get on a plane at all," said Adekuni.

Femi Odere is a correspondent on local Nigerian television in Chicago and in his country. He says he is appalled with the alleged act of terrorism.

"There is no question the act was reprehensible. We holistically condemn Abdulmutallab's attempt in its entirety," Odere said.

The Nigerian immigrants ABC7 interviewed said that they are calling on all Nigerians in the United States to shun all forms of terrorism and to work honestly, transparently and cooperatively with American people on issues of terrorism.

They also say Nigeria as a state does not condone such alleged terrorist acts as those witnessed on Christmas Day.

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