Somali Muslims Take Over Small Tennessee Town, Terrify Christians-Outdated! 

Summary of eRumor:

Somali Muslims have taken over a small Tennessee town, forcing absolute hell and terrifying Christians.

The Truth:

Earlier accounts of Somali Muslims “taking over” a small Tennessee town called Shelbyville were re-reported as breaking news by a number of fringe websites in July 2017.

Shelbyville has seen its population Mexican immigrants and refugees steadily increase since the mid -2000s, and the community’s response was the subject of high-profile broadcasts and documentaries in both 2009 and 2011. In 2008, the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) reported on the struggles of Somalia immigrants to assimilate in to the community, and the community’s struggles to accomodate them:

Then, in 2011, the PBS Independent Lens series produced a documentary, “Welcome to Shelbyville.” The film is set against the backdrop of the 2008 presidential election. The documentary’s description is:

A small town in the heart of America’s Bible Belt grapples with rapidly changing demographics. Longtime African American and white residents are challenged with how best to integrate with a growing Latino population and the more recent arrival of hundreds of Muslim Somali refugees.

Nearly 14 percent of Shelbyville’s population was foreign born  by 2015, which was roughly on-par with nationwide trends, but likely above normal levels for a smaller community (its population was about 21,000).

HIAS, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian aid to refugees, reported that many refugees settled in Shelbyville to work at a Tyson Foods plant there. The idea that refuges were taking jobs away from locals created strife among residents, with city officials being forced to choose sides and police having to step up security in response to threats of violence.

We investigated a 2008 claim that Tyson Foods substituted Labor Day with a Muslim holiday. After initially approving the switch, Tyson Foods later reversed the decision.

Somali refugees have undoubtedly impacted this small Tennessee town, and that’s been well documented over the years. But reports that surfaced in July 2017 didn’t include any new facts or developments — and, in fact, the story left out a series of government actions that have been taken to curb or more closely monitor refugee populations there. Lawmakers have introduced laws requiring nonprofits to notify government officials before resettling large number of refuges in the community and requiring that newcomers to Tennessee speak English. Also, state lawmakers sued the federal government in March 2017 over refugee resettlement in Tennessee.

Given all that, we’re calling claims that Somali refugees are taking over Shelbyville “outdated.”

somali refugees
Reports from July 2017 that Somali Muslims are taking over a small Tennessee town are based on reporting from 2008.