Iraqi DEI director resigns and flees Maine after plot to diversify elementary schools receives backlash

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South Portland, Maine – A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) director for a local school district suddenly resigned and fled the state after facing backlash for a scheme to ‘diversify’ predominantly White elementary schools.

The incident has now sparked a police investigation and even demands of a hate crime probe, all for the alleged “harassment” of an Iraqi immigrant who has received nothing but institutional advantages since arriving in the US in 2013.

In 2023, the South Portland School District (SPSD) reportedly began preparations to “improve diversity” and reduce what it calls “racial and socioeconomic segregation” across all five of the city’s elementary schools. To do this, the SPSD tasked a special four-person Steering Committee to brainstorm different ways to “forcibly” give low-income, non-White students access to higher-performing, predominantly White schools.

Mohammed Albehadli was part of a steering committee tasked with diversifying all of South Portland’s White elementary schools. He made headlines when a citizen pushed back against the plan and abruptly resigned. Collage: Justice Report

One member of the committee was South Portland’s DEI director, Mohammed Albehadli. In an interview with Mainwire, Albehadli said he didn’t want to “deprive” the district’s predominantly White elementary schools of the “benefits” of diversity.

“We shouldn’t have a district in 2023 where, economically, students are concentrated in just one group and then you have four other schools that are not dealing with that issue…” said Albehadli. “And of course the racial diversity…”

“I don’t want to have districts where there’s one school that is greatly diverse, has great racial diversity, and then there’s another school lacking that. We’d be depriving other students of that opportunity to go to class with a classmate who’s from Congo or from Iraq or from somewhere else,” he continued.

Albehadli’s mission, to use any means necessary to forcibly break up the district’s Whiter schools, garnered the attention of concerned citizens in the region. But when one individual—Ryan Murdough who lives nearby in New Hampshire—sent an email expressing his outrage, Albehadli suddenly resigned and fled Maine, sparking a firestorm of media coverage and even a police investigation over allegations of racism.

“People should never be able to get away with actions like these,” said Albehadli in a request for comment to the Press Herald. “If anyone is OK with such hatred to be in their community and decides not to say anything about it, or even condemn it at least, then they should be ashamed of themselves.”

“There should be legal consequences,” he demanded in a separate comment to AP.

South Portland’s Iraqi DEI director, Mohammed Albehadli (left) has personally benefitted from several different programs and incentives geared to place foreign-born individuals in specialized fields like education. Albehadli entered the US after he emigrated from Karbala, Iraq in 2013. Photo: SPSD

Portions of the email sent to Albehadli appeared to express anger at his plans to break up White elementary schools, and by extension, tampering with the racial makeup of South Portland.

“White parents don’t want their children going to school with black and brown kids who don’t belong in the United States,” the email read. “White people in Maine don’t appreciate what you (Albehadli) are trying to do in (South) Portland.”

“White children don’t want to go to school with Black and Brown kids who don’t belong in the United States,” it continued.

While the full email contains inflammatory language—which according to local laws could be construed as harassment—the contents of the message didn’t contain any calls to violence. Citing “terrorizing” and “threatening” language, however, the sender of the email was issued a formal warning by the South Portland Police Department, ordering him to refrain from further “hate speech” under threat of criminal investigation.

He was even issued a criminal trespass ordinance and is now barred from entering school properties.

While provocative, the beliefs expressed inside the email appear to only resonate with sentiments held by many in Maine's White community. In July 2019, it was reported that Maine's largely White, aging population reacted poorly to a sudden influx of hundreds of African immigrants, mostly from Angola and the Congo. Citing concerns over infectious diseases and a surging homelessness crisis, native Mainers reacted with a "palpable suspicion" to newcomers and looked to the local Republican Party as a means to resist their own racial replacement.

A series of police-mandated criminal trespass ordinances were issued to a citizen who pushed back against forced DEI measures in South Portland, Maine. The individual was issued these in response to an inflammatory email sent to Albehadli, which appeared to contain no violent rhetoric. Collage: Gab

An immigrant from Kerbala, Iraq, Mohammed Albehadli appears to stand as a poster child for non-White immigration into the United States. Albehadli was offered the privilege of entering the country when he was a fighting-age youth in 2013—a year when ISIS was at the peak of hostilities. Very quickly, he completed schooling in Portland, was offered special race-based incentives, and was even cherry-picked by the Telling Room, a Portland-based writing center later awarded by the White House for its work with "refugee and immigrant" high school students.

"I just feel like the luckiest guy because I'm here in this program," Albehadli said in a 2015 interview with Maine Public.

Further investigation revealed that Albehadli has benefitted from an alarming amount of systemic privileges, which, before his resignation at the SPSD, helped him meteor to the top of DEI positions in predominantly White Maine. Thanks to social programs and other diversity efforts, Albehadli was even able to attend classes at Connecticut's "highly selective" Trinity College and work towards a degree in education.

"I don’t want to have districts where there’s one school that is greatly diverse, has great racial diversity, and then there’s another school lacking that. We’d be depriving other students of that opportunity to go to class with a classmate who’s from Congo or from Iraq or from somewhere else"

Mohammed Albehadli, former SPSD DEI czar and Iraqi immigrant.

Later on, Albehadli would serve as a career and education mentor alongside other Arabic-speaking migrants in the northeast and would have the unique opportunity to take steps to earn his master's at Boston College. Albehadli continued to overcome the odds when he was selected by Jewish playwright, Bess Welden, to help create a show featuring refugees as a central theme.

Titled "Refuge," Welden spliced the lived experiences of her photojournalist sister-in-law's time in immigrant-ravaged Greece to tell the fictional tale of a young refugee boy and a Jewish woman. Out of high school, Welden tapped Albehadli to help translate the play and use it to advance pro-immigration narratives to audiences in the Portland area.

Mohammed Albehadli reportedly fled Maine after receiving an allegedly "racist" email from a local citizen. Photo: South Portland Community Television

"My sister-in-law is a freelance international journalist. In the fall of 2015, she photographed refugee shoes left behind on a beach on the Greek island of Lesvos. Many belonged to children," said Welden in an interview regarding the play.

" I wrote the play in English then collaborated with Mohammed Albehadli, an Iraqi immigrant who’d recently graduated from Portland High School, for the translation," she continued.

While it is unknown where Albehadli will turn to for work after his sudden resignation and departure from the Pine Tree State, his future in a diversifying United States appears bright. According to reports, cities like Portland, Maine have become an epicenter of anti-White diversification initiatives since at least 2017. A tuition-free education class hosted at the University of Southern Maine was designed specifically to recruit new "teachers of color" like Albehadli and help diversify educators.

While the field of education has been a focal point for these efforts, other areas of Maine's critical infrastructure have also been slated for diversity hires. Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) recently unveiled a new proposal to combat the state's worker shortage woes. Her plan, to tap "swiftly growing" immigrant communities to bolster underperforming labor power, would be used to funnel thousands of Somalians and other non-White immigrants into the fields of healthcare, construction, and education.

Pro-immigration Maine Governor Janet Mills (center) once drew fire for her perceived inaction on warning signs linked to Army Reservist Robert Card, a deranged mass shooter who killed 18 people in Lewiston. Photo: Jim Davis, Boston Globe.

A report showed that Maine is now the home of more than 56,000 foreign-born people, which amounts to about 1 in 25 citizens. In the cities of Portland and Lewiston—where African immigration has hit particularly hardest, foreigners compose 1 in every 10 residents.

Mills' plan, known as the "Office of New Americans," could see forced diversity in the workplace as early as 2024, a reality now being imposed on states all across America's northeast as migration continues to go unchecked.

While foreign-born immigrants like Albehadli have access to these unique opportunities, White citizens and natives to places like Maine continue to be locked out of positions of power or prestige. In 2018, a White man and self-professed activist for White civil rights was fired from his position as manager of a small town of less than 900 people. After his removal, elected officials said they did it to "sustain a vibrant, welcoming tourist community."

Meanwhile, non-White migrants to the United States continue to subject native-born residents to criminality, violence, and in some cases, death. In November, a 19-year-old Muslim from Maine was sentenced to 15 years in prison for an ISIS-inspired plot to attack a mosque in Chicago. In 2023, illegal immigrants made headlines again when Mexicans reportedly took advantage of a special housing offer to set up a "no-go zone" in Texas. Known as Colony Ridge, the area has since become rife with murders and other instances of what locals believe is cartel-related crime.

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