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  1. Often known as one of the "most dangerous countries in the world", Somalia usually makes headlines for political turmoil, rather than its beauty. Filled with landmarks that speak to the country's rich history as a colonial trading port, as well as untouched natural attractions, Somalia's social and cultural heritage is certainly worth noting.We take a look at Somalia's beauty beyond its dangerous label: 1. Mogadishu, the nation's capital Mogadishu is easing toward peace and normality for the first time in decades. The seaside capital of Mogadishu, where a Somali cafe owner prepares coffee for his customers, is full of life for the first time in 20 years after African Union and Somali troops pushed Islamist militants out of the city in 2011.2. The national theater The Somali National Theater ireopened for the first time in 20 years."I see so much difference as a longtime resident in Mogadishu," said Abdiaziz Nur, a 31-year-old Mogadishu resident. "I had never dreamed that I would either walk through Mogadishu's streets or drive my car at night, but now we feel glorified and proud."3. Colonial ruins in Mogadishu Once the jewel of the Italian empire, Mogadishu features scenic landmarks that stand as a testament to the country's rich history and heritage under colonial rule.The old town of the Somali capital, including Hamarweyne and Shangani, host some of the oldest buildings, mosques and the remains of one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in eastern Africa.4. The famous Uruba hotel Once catering to dignitaries and thousands of the Italians during its golden age, the Al-Uruba hotel was an iconic landmark in Mogadishu.Located near the deep blue Indian Ocean, not far from the presidential palace, the hotel is now peppered with war wounds. Still, the hotel's sandy white beach and scenic views attract tourists and visitors to the landmark attraction that once drew people from across the region to dance. 5. Playing at the beach Somalis play football near the Lido beach in Mogadishu. 6. Batalale beach, Berbera Located in Berbera, Batalale is one of Somalia's uncrowded, unspoiled beaches that has seen more visitors in recent years. 7. Berbera Berbera was once the capital of British Somaliland between 1870 and 1921. Now the capital of the Sahil region, the city is located along the oil route, making it the main commercial seaport for Somaliland.There are also remnants of historical buildings made of coral and Russian architecture from the 20th century. 8. Lasa Geel rock paintings Located about 55 kilometers northeast of Hergeisa, the Las Geel rock paintings were discovered in a complex set of caves by a French archaeological team in 2002. These beautifully well-preserved Neolitic paintings of Laas Geel, meaning "source of water for camels," are estimated to be between 5,000 and 11,000 years old.Depicting indigenous humans, dogs, cattle and antelopes, this site has become a major tourist attraction in Somalia. 9. Mogadishu beach Once the heart of violence and civil conflict, the nation's capital is slowly moving toward becoming a tourist hot spot. Boasting sun-soaked beaches and deep azure blue waters of the Indian Ocean, Mogadishu has become a must-see location for visitors.Once the heart of violence and civil conflict, the nation's capital is slowly moving toward becoming a tourist hot spot. Boasting sun-soaked beaches and deep azure blue waters of the Indian Ocean, Mogadishu has become a must-see location for visitors. 10. Daallo escarpment Somalia's expansive, untouched landscape impresses visitors in both scale and beauty. The Daalloo forest, known for its abundant wildlife, leads to the escarpent allowing for picturesque views down the valley. 11. Nugaal Valley Nugaaleed Valley, also known as Nugaal Valley and located on northeastern Somalia, features an extensive network of seasonal watercourses, permanent wells and is bounded by plateaus that reach elevations of 1,650-3,300 feet above seal level.It has also long been the home of a pastoral nomadic population that return during the dry season.Source:
  2. Khadija Osman, 18, shuffles a stack of certificates, one for making the honor roll and several others awarded by teachers. She just graduated from Arroyo Paseo Charter High School in City Heights and is heading to UC Merced in the fall to study biochemistry.In Somalia, where her family comes from, girls were much less likely to go to school than boys. Here in the United States, Somali girls attending San Diego city schools are surpassing their male counterparts academically.Generally, boys are more likely to drop out of school than girls. The dropout rate for middle and high school boys in San Diego Unified School District was 1.25 percent during the 2012-2013 school year; it was 0.81 percent for girls.Leaders in the local Somali community say refugee boys are at much higher risk of dropping out than the general school population, especially if they're aSomali Bantu ethnic minority, which came to the U.S. more recently. They say boys often are drawn into fights and, like many refugees, lack resources and struggle with language. San Diego Unified does not keep data by ethnic group or immigration status, but said the dropout rate for English learners of all ethnicities was 3.06 percent in 2012-2013.The graduation gap is feeding a rapid gender shift for the Somali community — one that's tricky to navigate for young women like Osman.When Osman learned she was accepted to a university an eight-hour drive away, she got a lot of pushback from her sister. That's because Osman helps with the household and her nieces and nephews. It's customary for Somali girls to help look after siblings and other younger relatives.Khadija Osman shows off her diploma from Arroyo Paseo Charter High School July 2, 2014. She'll be the first in her family to go to college."There's girls that would love to go to college but because of all the responsibilities put on us, you know, taking care of the house, and helping parents with translation and appointments, you know, we're not able," Osman said. "It's annoying because a lot of the guys take it for granted."Osman believes that's why some refugee boys drop out — school is just not a priority for them. But Oliva Espin has a different take on why refugee boys have a harder time than girls. She's a professor emerita at San Diego State University who studies psychology and immigrant women."Women find jobs immediately because women clean, cook, take care of old people — they do the same thing they had always done," Espin said.Refugee men, on the other hand, often have skills or degrees that don't quite translate to the U.S. job market. Espin's own father worked as a lawyer in Cuba but had to get a job sorting mail when he moved his family to the U.S. in the 1960s. She says boys often see their fathers and older brothers stagnate while girls see their mothers and sisters rising to meet the challenges of living in a new country."The women have to do things that they would not have done back there in terms of supporting the family. And the girls are seeing that," Espin said. "The other thing is, most teachers are women. Boys don't have that many role models." Photo by Brian Myers, Media Arts Center San DiegoIsha Aweyso and her mother, Nuriya Abshiro walk through the Little Mogadishu district of City Heights. Isha Aweyso, 17, will start her senior year at Health Sciences High and Middle College, a charter school in City Heights, in the fall and is on track to go to a university. Wearing an intricate headscarf and vibrant traditional dress, she said boys get distracted at school because they can wear whatever they want."As long as they get their education and make their family proud, (girls are) fine with that," Aweyso said. "Boys, they worry too much about whether or not their clothes look perfect on them and if that specific group is going to want them."Unlike Osman, Aweyso has the full support of her female relatives when it comes to higher education.Her mother, Nuriya Abshiro, said she's really happy her daughter can go to school and get a job. It's something she wanted for herself, but by the time her family earned enough money to enroll her, she had to flee to a refugee camp in Kenya.But here's the difference between Aweyso and Osman. Aweyso wants to stay local and go to San Diego State University. She'll be around to help raise her brothers and sisters, and she'll be a greater support to her family once she has a degree.Osman said she also knows she'll have to put her degree to work to support her family. And that's OK with her as long as she gets to go to UC Merced, which has the smaller class sizes she believes she'll need to be successful."The thought of telling my dad I want to go away to college was kind of terrifying," Osman said. "But then I told him why I want to go and he said, 'You know, at this point, I trust you. You're old enough and you know what's best for you.' So he gave me his blessings."Both Osman and Aweyso said they hope to become high school teachers, serving as role models for the refugee girls and boys who come after themSource:
  3. Twin sisters have fled their home in Manchester to join ISIS fighters in Syria, it is feared. The 16-year-old girls crept out of their bedrooms in the middle of the night, grabbed their passports and flew to Istanbul in Turkey. By the time their parents found their beds empty at 8am last Thursday and called police, they were found to be on their way to Syria. Counter-terrorism forces were then alerted when the girls contacted their family from Syria, where their elder brother is believed to be a jihadi fighter. After 10 days of investigations, detectives are still struggling to track them down. Greater Manchester Police said: 'The girls flew from Manchester International Airport to Istanbul. 'Since their departure the girls have been in contact with their family. 'We are attempting to confirm their current location and secure the well-being of both girls.' The family, of Somalian origin, is believed to have moved to Britain 10 years ago. According to The Sun on Sunday, the strictly religious schoolgirls have told their family they are not coming home. 'The family have been trying to persuade their daughters to come home but so far they have said they are happy to stay,' a source told the paper. Police are now probing where the girls got the money to fly to the Middle East. The sixth formers' disappearance comes as the Home Office battles to counter calls from ISIS to British teenagers to join them.Extremists have used Twitter and YouTube to reach out to young Muslims across the world. British fighters: Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana appeared in this ISIS recruitment video earlier this month And on Friday, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi emerged from relative recluse to issue a plea for all Muslims to 'obey' him in his quest for world domination.A video of Baghdadi’s sermon at the Great Mosque in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was released on the internet yesterday and went viral instantly on jihadist forums and websites.Speaking from the pulpit of the mosque, Baghdadi, 42, urged the world’s Muslims to flock to the new Islamic caliphate. He praised the victory of his 14,000 fighters spread across Iraq and Syria.This month, a video emerged of three British fighters gushing about their life in Iraq.Among them was aspiring jihadi Aseel Muthana, who told the BBC he was fighting in Syria and had no intention of returning to the UK.His brother Nasser appeared with two other British men - 20-year-old Reyaad Khan, from Cardiff, and Abdul Raqib Amin, who grew up in Aberdeen. Calls: ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, issued a plea for the world's Muslims to 'obey' his quest for domination In April, the Metropolitan Police issued a plea for people to come forward with information about their family members if they were concerned about them joining terrorist training camps in Syria.And a British Jihadi who claims he is fighting alongside militants in Syria has said he will return to the UK when he sees 'the black flag of Islam' hanging over Buckingham Palace.The man, who called himself Abu Osama, said he had been taking part in military training, making bombs and fighting with the extremist Al-Nusra Front, which is linked to al Qaida, for the past year.Osuma, whose accent suggested he comes from the north of England, claimed to have been fighting for the establishment of a caliphate - which he referred to by the Arabic term Khilafah - across the Islamic world.He told BBC 5 Live's Nicky Campbell: 'There is nothing in Britain - it is just pure evil.'If and when I come back to Britain it will be when this Khilafah - this Islamic state - comes to conquer Britain and I come to raise the black flag of Islam over Downing Street, over Buckingham Palace, over Tower Bridge and over Big Ben.'Source:
  4. A recent report investigating a measles outbreak in Minnesota offers a new window into how the disease can be spread by just one unvaccinated person.Here’s how the 2011 outbreak, which sickened 19 children and two adults in Minnesota, happened, according to the report in the medical journal Pediatrics, titled, “An Outbreak of Measles in an Undervaccinated Community.”An unvaccinated Somali-American 2-year-old, who some have dubbed “Patient Zero,” traveled with his parents to Kenya, where he contracted the measles virus.When the family returned to Minnesota, the child showed symptoms, including a fever, cough and vomiting.But before he was diagnosed as having measles, the child had already passed the virus on to three other children at his daycare center, and another household member, CBS News reports.Ultimately, more than 3,000 people in the tight-knit Twin Cities Somali community were exposed to the disease.Nine of the children who were ultimately infected were old enough to have received the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine but had not gotten it.Patient Zero’s parents had not vaccinated their child over fears stemming from misinformation that vaccines are dangerous, officials say.Minnesota Department of Health researchers say that is typical in the Somali immigrant community, where MMR vaccination rates remain low, CBS News reports.In 2004, the number of Somali children in the state who were on schedule with their MMR topped 90 percent.“By 2010, that was down to just 54 percent,” epidemiologist Pam Gahr, who led the new research, told CBS.She says the steep drop in vaccinations stems from misinformation about a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.The belief that vaccines are linked to autism or other diseases has been debunked by scientific studies.Experts have confirmed that children must be vaccinated against preventable and potentially deadly diseases, CNN reports.Unvaccinated people, the studies show, are highly vulnerable to dangerous and deadly diseases – long eradicated in the U.S. – when the diseases are brought back into the country by unvaccinated travelers.Health officials say disease outbreaks like the one sparked by little Patient Zero and others that are ongoing across the U.S. are a stark reminder that more education is needed to convince parents to vaccinate their children on schedule.U.S. measles cases are at a 20-year high this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.As of May 30, the agency had received reports of 334 measles cases in 18 states.Nearly all of the outbreaks involved unvaccinated people who brought measles back after a trip overseas, the CDC said.“The thing is, we have the power to prevent it,” Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, told CBS.In the case of the Minnesota outbreak, he added, “the first infection that spread in the community was misinformation. The second was measles.”Source:
  5. Ramadan, the Islamic religious festival marked by a month of fasting, officially started June 28 around the world but has been effectively cancelled for many Muslims in Western China. Government offices, hospitals and schools in China’s Xinjiang region, where about half the 22 million population is Muslim, have banned the traditional sunup to sundown fast and other religious activities,according to notifications on local school and government websites. Students, teachers, civil servants and and Communist Party cadre members—a far-flung group that includes everyone from nurses to engineers to scholars—are forbidden from fasting and other activities. Government-run websites are running prominent messages explaining the ban on fasting, and lauding Muslims who do not fast. The crackdown on Ramadan comes amid a string of attacks, many linked to ethnic minorities across the Uyghur region, that have killed hundreds across China since last fall but have been concentrated in the Xinjiang region. In response, China’s government has sentenced dozens to prison in a mass public trial, and executed 13 people said to be connected to the attacks. The Tarim River Basin Management Bureau in Xinjiang showed men in traditional caps eating during the daylight in a report (link in Chinese) about a Party Day celebration dated June 30: “Although it was Ramadan, the party members and the officials in this area showed their attitudes and expressed their opinions by not fasting, which shows the advance of the Communist Party,” and shows they are people who admire science and want to improve society, the agency’s website said. The Chinese Medicine Hospital in Yining asked staff to pledge in writing not to fastin order to “not affect normal work and life” in a post on their Sino Weibo page (link in Chinese). “We remind everyone that they are not permitted to observe a Ramadan fast,” Bozhou Radio & Television University said in a statement, according to the AFP. A local weather bureau asked current and retired staff not to fast. The ban on following traditional religious practices during Ramadan is much more visible, widespread and strict than it has been in recent years. Last year, China’s party mouthpiece newspapers ran feel-good articles quoting high school students who said they were permitted to fast, despite reports to the contrary. In 2008, the local government forced Muslim restaurant owners to remain open during the daytime over the holiday, when they would have traditionally shut. July 5 marks the anniversary of riots in the region that killed nearly 200 people in 2009, and Chinese authorities have also detained hundreds of people to prevent protests and demonstrations, the Uyghur Human Rights Project reports. Source:
  6. Two years ago, the African Union Military Force (AMISOM) liberated the Somali capital, Mogadishu, from al-Shabab. More recently AMISOM and the Somali Army declared victories over al-Shabab by capturing major towns. The international community which supports AMISOM has touted these advances, yet the Somali population is more circumspect about these victories given the resurgence of terrorist bombings in thecapital. At this point, it is important to examine whether the military and political strategy of the international community and the African Union to stabilise Somalia will advance the cause of peace and enable Somalis to regain control over their country or whether this approach will permanently dismember Somalia. Al-Shabab's agenda The origin of al-Shabab dates back to the failure of secular politics to deliver peace and common belonging for the Somali people, particularly since 1991. Somalia's brutal dictatorship decimated civic politics in the country in the late 1980s and fanned the flames of civil war by politicising clan divisions among the population. The regime used its security forces to collectively punish communities it deemed hostile and therefore sowed the seeds of national fragmentation. Such political dynamics shattered trust among Somalis and created opportunities for warlords, and others whose objective has been to subjugate Somalis to collect the spoils of the civil war. After more than a decade of war, Somalis' only remaining source of moral and political alternative to chaos was the population's staunch adherence to Islam. Members of the Muslim community who were previously banned by the old regime regrouped and tried to restore peace. They had some success, but their rigid interpretation of the faith and crude political sloganeering, particularly after the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attracted Washington's attention. The Somali Islamic political project culminated in the rise of Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which liberated Mogadishu and several regions of the country from the tyranny of the warlords in 2006. The youth wing of the courts, then known as al-Shabab, was the most disciplined and effective force the ICU had. ICU's military success and its popularity among most Somalis immediately attracted the attention of the West, particularly the US, and their Ethiopian allies. Plans were laid out, using Ethiopia as a proxy, to crush the ICU. Unfortunately the ICU blindly fell into the strategic traps set for them. Consequently, Ethiopia invaded Somalia and drove the ICU into the bush. As the Ethiopian military occupied Mogadishu, it became feasible for the internationally sponsored warlords-dominated Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) leadership to move to the capital under Ethiopian protection. A fierce war of resistance against the Ethiopian occupation ensued, which pinned down the occupiers. Through the war of resistance, al-Shabab became the dominant Somali force. Ethiopian forces were finally holed in three small locations while Somali resistance controlled much of the country. Then the international community wooed the leaders of the ICU to jump ship and become the leaders of the TFG. From here on, al-Shabab declared its association with al-Qaeda and the US listed it as a terrorist organisation in 2008. Thereafter, Ethiopian forces withdrew and AMISOM forces were increased substantially. It took AMISOM three years to gain control of the capital. Disabling Somalia Once Mogadishu was formally liberated, the international community turned its attention to re-establishing a more permanent government. Here the international community went into cahoots with sectarian Somali politicians and organised a corrupt and divisive selection process - akin to apartheid - to appoint a new government. The political system of choice for the dominant sectarian Somalis was a tribal-based federal system in this most culturally homogenous country in Africa. Despite the superficial appearance of a smooth transition to a more permanent government in 2012, the core political project was deeply fractured. It called for the creation of federal regions based on unrealistic and non-existent boundaries which instigated new and nastier political fissures within communities. The consequences of tribal identity becoming the grammar of politics in the country are already conspicuous. First, the requirement that every little tribe must be represented in parliament, cabinet, and various organs of the state has created an incoherent political authority. Second, this rudderless political morass is matched by the dysfunctional bureaucracy that lacks the basic qualities of professional civil service. The arbitrary tribalism-based criteria used to select public service employees have produced a frighteningly incompetent order that has overwhelmed the few professionals in the system. Third, political ineptitude and professional incompetence at the heart of the country in Mogadishu has become a model for the provinces. Consequently, a gratuitous and dysfunctional political order has engulfed the country, thus deepening mistrust among Somalis. Fourth, the proliferation of arbitrarily defined regions with little guidance from the central government has induced competition between sectarian politicians who use tribal identity as a cover to establish their fiefdoms. This process has already generated tremendous conflict between and within communities and intensifies fragmentation because the country lacks a political centre of gravity. Finally, neighbouring states, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, are deeply involved in the fracturing of the country. Kenya has unabashedly given resources to the leader who controls the so-called Jubaland using Kenyan defensive forces, nominally part of AMISOM. Similarly, Ethiopia recently joined AMISOM, and is using the pretext of al-Shabab to curve up areas in central Somalia to set up its own client provinces. The aim of the Kenyan and Ethiopian forces is to use these newly minted client regions as spheres of influences to enfeeble the central government. If successful, such clients in the provinces will determine the fate of the country. Meanwhile the African Union and the international community continue to provide resources and cover for the Ethiopian and Kenyan projects. A bottomless pit Two years ago, the senior Ugandan commander of AMISOM, in a confidential report, stressed that the tribal-based administration in Somalia will never become an effective government that can consolidate the peace and serve the Somali people. Despite such warnings, the African Union and its international partners are oblivious to the fact that their military presence in the country has not helped Somalis to take charge of their country. Instead, Kenya and Ethiopia, under the cover of AMISOM, have gained a free hand to support sectarian Somali clients to gerrymander the country's future. Consequently, aside from AMISOM's claims that al-Shabab is on the run, the country's political and social fabric is rotting, which does not bode well for the future of the Somali Republic. The government in Mogadishu, the only organised force which has the potential to inspire the population, is absorbed in sterile and regime-cantered politics. Al-Shabab might no longer have the capacity to control large areas, but its defeat will likely produce a failed country with a failed state vulnerable to foreign domination. Abdi Ismail Samatar is President of African Studies Association and Professor of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota. He is also a research fellow at the University of Pretoria. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  7. Islamic banking is based on core principles of the religion. So it is striking that some banks are removing the word "Islam" from their names - a sign of both the potential of Islamic finance to grow, and the obstacles to it becoming mainstream.In January, Dubai-based Noor Islamic Bank changed its name to Noor Bank. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), the emirate's largest sharia-compliant lender, now plans to call itself Abu Dhabi International Bank when operating abroad.In both cases, the changes are part of the banks' plans to expand. They aim to move well beyond a relatively small group of customers who stress religious permissibility, to a much larger customer base for whom pricing and service quality are key.This approach could help Islamic banks establish themselves globally, not just in the Muslim-majority regions of the Gulf and southeast Asia, and appeal to larger numbers of non-Muslims as well as Muslims.But the banks feel that to broaden their appeal and compete directly with conventional institutions for customers, they need to play down their Islamic nature among the general public."Rebranding is an essential part of widening the appeal of the industry, whether we call it ethical, alternative or sustainable finance," said Yerlan Baidaulet, a member of the board of executive directors at the Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank, a multilateral institution. "Our mindset has to be global, we have to think wider in terms of customer appeal. Why monopolise the concept and keep calling it only Islamic?"GrowthIslamic banks, which follow principles such as bans on interest payments and pure monetary speculation, have been growing rapidly in the Gulf and southeast Asia for a decade.In the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council they now account for about a quarter of total banking assets.In the past couple of years growth has slowed in some countries, however, as the banks have largely run out of new customers who are willing to base their choices primarily on an institution's Islamic credentials.In Qatar, for instance, asset growth rates of Islamic banks have dropped to just above those of their conventional peers, cutting a large lead which the industry previously held. Islamic banking assets in Qatar grew 12.2 percent in 2013, down from 35.1 percent in 2011, central bank data shows.So to continue expanding, the banks have two options. One is to compete for the mass of consumers - by some estimates, 60 or 70 percent of the population even in a mainly Muslim country - who base their choice of bank on non-religious factors.ADIB is in the process of acquiring a large number of such customers; in April it said it had agreed to buy the United Arab Emirates retail banking operations of Barclays for an expected price of 650 million dirhams ($177 million).The Abu Dhabi bank is now trying to persuade roughly 110,000 former Barclays customers to stay with ADIB rather than moving to conventional banks. This involves competing directly on non-religious aspects of its service.The other growth option for Islamic banks is to move into new markets in Asia, Europe or Africa, in countries which have Muslim minorities but where establishing a profitable presence will require attracting large numbers of non-Muslims.The banks have no intention of changing the sharia-compliant nature of their products. But removing the word "Islam" from their names is a way of avoiding any perception that Islamic banks focus on religious issues while neglecting aspects such as quality of service.Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), which was acquired in January by Qatar's largest Islamic bank Masraf Al Rayan, is studying whether to rebrand itself to appeal to a wider customer base, said IBB chief executive Sultan Choudhury."We have to look at branding - sometimes the positioning as an Islamic bank can work against us," he said. "After the takeover we want to look at how we present the bank to customers. We have to consider how to position the brand to be all-inclusive."IBB, based in Birmingham, offered a savings account promotion last year for which it estimated 55 percent of applications were from non-Muslims. It had similar success in marketing products in Scotland by avoiding any of the Arabic terminology often used to describe Islamic financial products, Choudhury said."Ultimately the contracts are sharia-compliant...but this helps in consumer understanding."EthicalTirad Mahmoud, ADIB's chief executive, said Islamic banks had an advantage over conventional banks in being able to stress the moral foundations of their business - a consideration which has become more important since banking abuses fueled the global financial crisis.For example, Islamic banks reject much of the complex financial engineering used by conventional banks. Returns on Islamic bank accounts are based on investment income rather than on interest payments."The real competitive advantage that Islamic banks have is that they are ethically constructed. We need to promote this. The denomination doesn't matter," Mahmoud said.ADIB says a survey which it commissioned found 1,000 retail customers in the UAE, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia and Britain believed a lack of ethical principles was the biggest problem in their banking relationships.However, the survey also showed that while Islamic banks were perceived as treating customers more fairly than conventional institutions, they were seen as lacking best industry practices and failing to deliver a simple banking experience. Rebranding can help to change that.Name changes can also help Islamic banks expand in markets where regulation limits their branding options: ADIB has plans to enter Turkey, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, all of which restrict the use of religious terms, Mahmoud said.In Turkey, for example, Islamic banks describe themselves as "participation banks" to comply with staunchly secular legislation."In respect of awareness of participation banks, there has not been any problem. Everybody knows they are Islamic banks and operate according to Islamic banking principles," said Osman Nihat Yilmaz, deputy secretary general of the Participation Banks' Association of Turkey."Less religiously-linked branding could be useful for the industry if it wants to attract non-Muslim clients."ADIB'S Mahmoud rejected the idea that removing the word "Islam" from banks' names was in any way compromising their Islamic nature. Instead, he said, it could put the focus where it should be: on the quality of banks' services."Some Islamic banks are unfairly using their Islamic label in Muslim communities," he said. "It is an emotional label that is very powerful in these communities, but are we leveraging on emotions?"Source: reuters
  8. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei announced Monday that China will reopen its embassy in Somalia, with a team heading to the country on July 1 to begin the process. China evacuated its embassy in Mogadishu in 1991, due to the Somalian civil war. Since then, China, like many other countries, has handled ties with Somalia through its embassy in neighboring Kenya. China-Somalia ties were quite close prior to the civil war. Somalia was the first east African nation to grant China diplomatic recognition and helped lobby for the PRC to gain China’s seat in the UN. China also sponsored a number of development projects in Somalia, including the construction of roads, hospitals, and sports stadiums,according to Xinhua. The chaos of the Somali civil war, however, brought much of this interaction to a grinding halt. Despite the lack of a Chinese embassy, China and Somalia tried to maintain economic relations. China sent over $28 million in aid to Somalia between 2003 and 2011, according to AidData. Bilateral trade also continued, although it remained at very low levels — a mere $3.39 million in 2002. In recent years, China-Somalia relations have been improving as Somali’s domestic political situation has shown signs of stabilizing. In 2012, Somalia elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president, in what Mohamud’s opponent and predecessor Sharif Sheikh Ahmed called Somalia’s first fair election in 42 years. While the world welcomed the election as a positive sign, Mohamud’s government has had trouble extending its actual control into the southern regions of the country, which remain largely occupied by the militant group al-Shabaab. Still, the international community remains cautiously optimistic. As Hong said Monday, China (along with many nations) believes that 2012 marked a turning point for Somalia, bringing “new historical period of national reconstruction” to the war-torn country. As a result, China has been slowly increasing it diplomatic contacts in Somali since 2012, with both countries frequently referencing their historic friendship. In August 2013, Somalia’s vice prime minister and foreign minister, Fowsia Yusuf Haji Adan, visited Beijing on an official visit. During their meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China was willing to increase “economic and trade cooperation” with Somalia and “to actively participate in Somalia’s reconstruction.” Soon afterwards, it was announced that China planned to reopen its embassy in the near future. China’s Ambassador to Kenya, Liu Guangyuan, visited Mogadishu in September 2013 to meet with President Mohamud and receive land the Somali government had earmarked for the new embassy. At the same time, trade relations between the two countries have been increasing rapidly. According to China’s Foreign Ministry, bilateral trade increased 44 percent from 2012 to 2013, to reach a total value of $150 million. In early June, the new Somalian foreign minister, Abdurahman Beileh, visited China. Beileh was in Beijing for a meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, but he and Wang Yi had a bilateral meeting as well. During the visit, Beileh briefed Wang on the progress the government has made in consolidating control. Beijing must have been reassured enough to make the decision to announce the reopening of its embassy less than a month later. China is not alone in returning to Somalia. The U.S. has also indicated that it plans to appoint an ambassador to Somalia, although there is currently no timeline for actually reopening an embassy there. The U.K. hasdiplomatic personnel in Somalia already, and expects its new embassy to be completed by the end of July. Source:
  9. Iman is the Somalian exile whose fierce spirit drove her to become the world's first black supermodel. Now she's working to bring health and education to her homeland. She talks to Carole Cadwalladr about racism in modelling – and a secret holiday in London with her husband, David Bowie ‘My parents were involved in getting independence. I grew up in the midst of all that’: Iman photographed in April. Photograph: Platon for the Observer It's a warm early summer day in New York, and at a fashionable photographer's studio in fashionable Soho Iman is having her portrait taken. On the walls are dozens of enlarged close-ups of other people who have all sat, at one time or another, for Platon, the London-born photographer who has made his name and career photographing the rich and powerful.All the greats are here: Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Saddam Hussein. And beneath them, Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, the only black woman in a room of images of mostly white men, is doing her best to follow Platon's directions. "That's GORGEOUS, sweetheart. That's right, turn your chin just very slightly. Thank you, darling. That's fucking BEAUTIFUL!"It's 24 years since Iman retired from modelling, but you'd never know it. She's a completely unlikely looking 58 and is sitting in front of a stark all-white backdrop simply dressed all in black – black jeans and a black jumper that emphasises her extraordinary swan-like neck – and she is completely focused. Two assistants move in to adjust the lights and Platon crouches down to whisper his next set of instructions. "I want to see your compassion, that's what this is all about. And your bravery. Show me that brave, brave woman. Show me that with your eyes."Iman shows him that with her eyes."That's BOOOT-I-FUL, sweetheart!" roars Platon. The studio manager, a young woman in full Annie Hall get-up, claps excitedly. It does make me wonder about the Saddam Hussein shoot. Was he a sweetheart too? Iman is oblivious, however; her focus absolute. She is a pro, down to her well-manicured fingertips. But then it's not an accident that she was the world's first black supermodel. The first black model to make serious cash. The first to become the face of global cosmetics brand Revlon. That she seamlessly segued from model to businesswoman when she set up her own highly successful cosmetics brand. Or even, possibly, that she married an international music legend, David Bowie, and became one half of a global super-couple. Iman, you get the feeling, does it Iman's way.Not least in that she is one of the surnameless, like Oprah or Nigella (or, for that matter, Platon). Mohamed Abdulmajid has played no part in Iman the brand. Every model has a sort of creation myth, the chance encounter that led to global fame, and Iman's is one of the best. She wasn't walking through JFK like Kate Moss, or Covent Garden like Naomi Campbell, though she was walking down a street. It's just that the street was in Nairobi in 1975 and she was a 20-year-old Somali refugee living and studying in Kenya. The spotter was a man called Peter Beard, a well-connected photographer and Africophile. He asked to photograph her, and when she hesitated he offered to pay her. "How much?" she asked. "How much do you want?" he said. "$8,000," she replied, the total amount of her university fees. It's a fair amount of money even today. Back then it must have been an extraordinary sum."Well, what could have happened?" she says. "He could have said no." She shrugs. "I mean, what's going to happen if you don't ask? My mother taught me this. She said: 'If God says to you: "I will grant you any wish you want – what would you ask for?" And I went: 'Er…' And she said: 'If you have to think about it, you're not worth it!' And I said: 'Why?' and she said: 'Look. Ask for everything! Ask for everything!'" The editor said she was like a white woman 'dipped in chocolate. And she didn’t even realise it was insulting!’: Iman in 1975. Photograph: Ron Galella/WireImageI get a small sense of this when we reach the café where we've arranged to do the interview. First we change tables, then we ask for the music to be turned down and then Iman orders a macchiato."You can have a double if you like," says the waiter. "No! Why does everything in America have to be so huge?" Her PR interrupts to tell her that she's going to order her car for 4pm, to be on the safe side. I panic slightly. This is only 40 minutes away. "No," says Iman. "Make it 3.45." And she brushes off my protests. "It's OK. I just want him to be waiting for me rather than the other way around." And then the coffee arrives. "What is this? This is huge! I can't drink that! Just bring me a normal coffee. Why is everything in America so huge?"But then she's always been able to be forthright, even in an industry in which women are literally there to be seen and not heard. At the time she started out, there were still different rate cards for black models and white models, but she simply refused to accept them."I didn't even understand it. People called me 'Iman the black model'. In my country we're all black so nobody called somebody else black. It was foreign to my ears. I was doing the same job as them. Why would I get less money? It didn't even occur to me that it had anything to do with racism. I learned that quite fast. I wasn't a major in political science for nothing, so I understood the politics of beauty and the politics of race when it comes to the fashionindustry.Nearly 40 years on, not all that much has changed, it seems. Last year she launched a campaign with Bethann Hardison and Naomi Campbell to urge brands to use black models. They commissioned original research and discovered that some brands, like Chloé, had never used a non-white model, and others like YSL, Versace, Gucci, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein hadn't for years. "It sends a message that our girls are not beautiful enough," she says. She had no issue with pointing the finger and calling them racist and urging a boycott until they changed their ways. But then she remembers the magazine editor who exclaimed at her beauty and said she was like a white woman "dipped in chocolate"."And she didn't even realise it was insulting! I said: 'Don't take credit for it. I don't have a white drop in me.'"Iman might have been a black girl freshly arrived from deepest Africa, but she wasn't naive. She spoke four languages, had been at boarding school in Egypt, lived in Tanzania and Kenya, had a spell in Kiev that included learning how to load a Kalashnikov – Somalia had strong links with the Soviet Union at the time – and was studying political science. Before the 1969 coup, her father had been a diplomat, and both her parents had been involved in the Somali independence movement in the 1960s."My mother was an activist, so was my father. They came from a generation of young Somalis who were actively involved in getting independence for Somalia in 1960. So I remember when I was five how busy our house was. People would come in the middle of the night, meetings after meetings, and protests and all that. I grew up in the midst of all of that. And she instilled that in me. The fact that nobody can take your self-worth unless you give your consent."She always said to me that there is nothing that the boys can do – because I had two brothers – that you can't do, if not better."There's a bit of this that has rubbed off on the choice of the charity she supports, the Hawa Abdi Foundation, a Somalia-based organisation, run by three extraordinary Somali women focused on bringing basic human rights – healthcare, education, agriculture – to vast swathes of the Somali population who currently have none. She was introduced to the charity by the editor ofGlamour magazine a couple of years ago, when it was nominated for an award, and it's the reason why she's agreed to the interview today. The foundation focuses its efforts on women and children because modern Somalia is not a happy place in all sorts of ways, but it's a particularly unhappy place for women. Women’s champion: Dr Hawa Abdi at a mother and child clinic at one of her camps for displaced people. Photograph: Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images"What has happened to women in Somalia? When I was growing up women wore traditional clothes or regular western clothes. We went to school. But the schools don't exist any more. And women are not even allowed to drive any more. It's run by extremists. Somalia was 100% a Muslim country, but it had its own culture before it adopted Islam. So you were a Muslim, but you were a Somali first." Set up by Dr Hawa Abdi, Somalia's first female gynaecologist and a nominee for the Nobel Prize, the foundation has fearlessly defended the rights of ordinary Somalis, caring for up to 90,000 people at a time despite attacks on both the compound and the foundation's hospital by Somali forces. Last year a documentary was made of its work, Through the Fire. "I didn't expect it but I cried my heart out watching it. I don't know if anyone can fathom it but the Somalia I grew up in doesn't exist any more. Whatever money I make, I can never grant the one wish my parents have, which is that they want to be buried there. They live in Washington, but they want to go back. It is their country."It's not quite her country any more, though. Her country is New York. When she first met her now husband, David Bowie, he was living in Switzerland. Did you move there? "For a very short bit. I was like: 'Move everybody out to New York.' He knew I wasn't going to stay there. I'm a New Yorker. I was like: 'Let's go home.'" London was in the frame for a bit, she says. "We bought a house and spent two years renovating everything in it, but never moved in." London is now for holidays. "We went this summer. And no one knew we were there! We flew in on the jet to Luton and every day we went and did different things and the press never knew! It's absurd this idea that celebrities can't be anonymous. We even went on the London Eye. We queued separately, Lexi [her and Bowie's daughter] had a friend with her and they went with the bodyguard and then we all met on board."Did David enjoy showing Lexi his homeland? "Yes! He took her to Beckenham. They went and took a photo outside the house he grew up in."It is, it goes without saying, a radically different childhood from her own. Do you think about if you'd taken a different street on a different day, I ask, and never met Peter Beard? "Absolutely." You think it could have been another street, another girl? "I absolutely believe that. It was just my luck. I could be in a refugee camp now. There are people who have been in refugee camps for 20 years, and I could be one of them. That's one of the reasons I'm compelled to help. First because overnight my life changed from a diplomatic daughter to a refugee and my father could not fend for us. The only time I've ever seen my father cry is when he couldn't pay for us to finish our education. And the NGOs looked after us. They found me a hostel, a job, a university."There's a genuine humility to the way she views her success. "I am the face of a refugee. I was once a refugee. I was with my family in exile. It's Holocaust Remembrance Day and my daughter has just started Night by Elie Wiesel, and I was reading with her this weekend. And they're learning this vocabulary, of what does exile mean."It's parenthood, second time around for both Iman and Bowie. His son, Duncan Jones, aka Zowie Bowie, is now a 43-year-old film director, and Iman had her first daughter, Zulekha, when she was just 23, and they both seem to be enjoying it."David is even more of a homebody than I am. At least I go to parties once in a while."He just likes his own company?"He does. I also think there is nothing that he hasn't seen. He's been to all the parties that there are."They've been married for 22 years and he's said that he knew instantly that she was the one, and that she'd be his wife. It sounds like it was quite overwhelming?"For him. I was not ready for a relationship. Definitely I didn't want to get into a relationship with somebody like him. But as I always said: I fell in love with David Jones. I did not fall in love with David Bowie. Bowie is just a persona. He's a singer, an entertainer. David Jones is a man I met." ‘I fell in love with David Jones. Bowie is just a persona’: Iman, with her husband of 22 years, David Bowie. Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty ImagesQuite a famous man, though. Lexi has recently been finding out more about him. "She asked why his hair was purple."Iman has her own thing going on though. Her cosmetics company is worth $25m, though the money is not really the spur. "I like working. What's the other option? Sitting at home eating bonbons?"Well, Bowie seems to occupy himself."He enjoys that. I enjoy working." Is it a traditional role reversal? He's at home and you're working. "Are you kidding me? He makes far more money than I do. What role reversal? I don't know why people think he's not doing anything. He's making his money work for him. That's what he's doing."The interview has gone a bit adrift for Iman's liking. She gives me a hard stare. "I hope you are going to write about Dr Hawa. That's why I'm doing this."I am, I say. That's why I started off by asking about her."Well, I hope so. That's what this is about."So tell me more about Dr Hawa, I say. She wrote in her book that it was only when she lost her first baby that she realised she had undergone female genital mutilation, aged seven."I didn't know that. But genital mutilation is not my thing. This is not why I'm here. I was told this was specifically about Dr Hawa. Listen, girls cannot go to school. I can't tackle all the issues, otherwise I'm spreading myself too thin. My concern at the moment is that the country has not had any schools open since 1990. Dr Hawa has built up the first school in the south of Somalia."So, what exactly are your plans with her?"She's just left town and we showed the documentary and did a fundraiser. My intention is really at the end to have maybe Save the Children in Somalia or the United Nations in Somalia be able to connect with them and make… you know… Save the Children and the UN are not able to move around. They stay in their compounds."So what's your idea, then?"For them to work with people who are underground. So these people don't have the money, but they are able to move around."And how would that work?"Listen, there is a lot of money that goes into the UN. And they just stay in Mogadishu in a compound. I'm not saying just give money, I'm saying there's a way they can fund these women."It gets hazier after this point. But fundamentally she's right: Dr Hawa Abdi is a remarkable woman and her foundation is doing important work. And if the world could find a way to help her in that work, Somalia would surely be a better place. And then that's it. The PR interrupts to say that the car has arrived. And Iman, doing it Iman's way, announces that the interview is now over. For information on the Dr Hawa Abdi Foundation, visit dhaf.orgSource:
  10. Ethiopia's historic city of Harar is one of Islam's holiest centres - but in recent times it has built up another tradition and is now also known for its brewery.As holy cities go, Harar is a colourful one. Inside the walls of the old town I find buildings in greens, purples and yellows - its women seem to take this as a challenge, dressing in veils and robes of shocking pink and the brightest orange.Harar lies far in the east of Ethiopia, with a road that rises out of the town in the direction of Somaliland.The mighty Muslim leader Ahmed The Left-Handed led some fierce campaigns from here in the 16th Century.On its narrow streets I meet goats, old men collapsed from chewing the narcotic khat and a young boy who stops to knock a football back and forth with me for a few minutes.Off the main square, tailors sit in front of fabric shops ready to run up alterations.Binyam, slotted behind his sewing machine, does a small tailoring job for me, recounting his Greek ancestry and the provenance of his sewing machine - a gift, he says proudly, which would cost you thousands in the local currency.He warns me off sellers of bad bananas and nearby thieves.I've come to find the city's brewery, which is what it's known for - beyond its holy credentials. For three decades now it's turned out Harar beer, its bottles carrying a label that depicts the old city's famous gates. Outside these gates a tuk tuk taxi driver knows where to find the birra fabrica - the beer factory - and we set off, away from the old city, putt-putting slowly up a hill. The brewery entrance is flanked on one side by a sign prohibiting firearms and, on the other, by an enormous beer bottle - perhaps meant to remind you why you can't bring in your gun: here be alcohol.The giant bottle is four times the height of a man. I know this because there's a man in front of it, a security guard who's delighted to have a visitor.He's not quite standing to attention, but the huge beer bottle does loom behind him a little like the guardhouse of one of the Queen's Guards in London.Inside the grounds, green beer crates frame the horizon, with a green mosque in the distance.Underfoot there are disused rail tracks. The net on a tennis court looks like it's in working order though and in a rusty-looking playground a man is watching his young boy on a swing. The sleepy air around the grounds is deceptive.This brewery was sold off to the Heineken group by the government three years ago. The company says it plans to invest in the plant.It wants to improve the manufacturing processes, bring in its know-how and start sourcing more material locally, either inside Ethiopia or in the region.It's taken over another brewery at Bedele farther west, and is building a third close to the capital.Many foreign companies point to cheap labour and helpful export tariffs as reasons for investing and the country's just been given a grade by the credit rating agencies for the first time.Industrial parks have popped into view whenever I've travelled out on the arteries away from the capital, Addis Ababa.Unilever, General Electric, GlaxoSmithKline, H&M, Tesco, Walmart, Samsung - they're all either in Ethiopia or thinking about it.The Chinese are here too, turning out thousands of shoes daily for example, just south of the capital, for major international brands.For Heineken, one of the motivations is a national market, beyond the grounds of the brewery, which can get a lot bigger - beer consumption in Ethiopia, it says, is only a third of what it is in neighbouring Kenya.In the interests of research I stop in the brewery's clubhouse and order a beer. The women in the kitchen are amused at my intrusion. It's a public holiday and quiet, although people are moving tables and chairs and I suspect things might get going later on.There's a healthy-looking trophy cabinet beside my table, filled perhaps with trophies won by the brewery's football team.It competes in Ethiopia's premier league although it's sitting near the bottom of the table when I visit, with relegation threatening.Back at the walls of the holy city, people in the market are oblivious to the brewery and to big business. For them the only drug worth trading is khat.Outside my window two formidable-looking women have spread out their bags of khat leaves. A beggar, badly crippled, hauls himself over to them.Moments ago they were screaming venom at a young man - a drug deal of sorts had gone bad it seems.Now however they slip some leaves discreetly to the beggar, their way of giving alms, on the edge of the sacred town.Source: BBC
  11. SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - A Massachusetts mayor is calling for an end to refugee resettlement in his city, saying Somali families are putting pressure on already strained services in Springfield, a onetime industrial centre where nearly a third of the population lives below the poverty line. Mayor Domenic Sarno is the latest mayor to decry refugee resettlement, joining counterparts in New Hampshire in Maine in largely rare tensions with the State Department, which helps resettle refugees in communities across America. The mayor is drawing criticism from those who say this country has a moral obligation to help the outcast and refugees who say they're being scapegoated for problems the city faced long before their arrival. "Why not talk about the problems in the city, why not talk about the houses that are unstable and in bad conditions, why only talk about the Somalis and Somali Bantus?" Mohammed Abdi, 72, said through an interpreter. Sarno, leader of the state's third-largest city, first demanded last summer that the U.S. government stop sending refugees. But after recent inspections found Somali families living in overcrowded, pest-infested apartments without electricity and sometimes heat, he stepped up complaints, saying resettlement agencies are bringing in "warm-weather" refugees and dumping them into cold climates only to leave them dependent on the city. "I have enough urban issues to deal with. Enough is enough," Sarno said in an interview. "You can't keep concentrating poverty on top of poverty." Hard examples and evidence for the mayor's stance are scant. The problems in the Somali housing have largely been attributed to neglectful landlords. The government does not track the number of refugees who rely on social services. The refugee population in Springfield of about 1,500 — around 380 of them Somali — represents about 1 per cent of the city's total of 153,000. And a 2014 report by the U.S. government found that Massachusetts ranked third in the nation for refugee employment, with 73 per cent of refugees enrolled in state programs finding work. Madino Idoor, a 35-year-old Somali with seven children, spent 12 years in a refugee camp before coming to the U.S. in 2004. She works two jobs — one at Goodwill at Springfield and another as a dishwasher at the Barnes Air National Guard Base in nearby Westfield. "I can work hard and provide for my family," Idoor said. "I do not need for the mayor to worry about me." She and others wonder why the mayor is targeting an already vulnerable population, an idea reiterated Friday in a Boston Globe editorial. "While Sarno raises valid points about needing adequate resources to accommodate newcomers, his stance is far too rigid and ignores both the moral imperative to help refugees and the benefits those refugees can bring," the editorial read. About 67,000 Somalis have come to the United States in the past decade, seeking refuge from civil war. Most have settled in Minnesota, California, Georgia and Washington, D.C. In 2004, more than 100 Somalis came to Springfield, placed there because it met criteria including a public transit and other urban infrastructure. The community has grown as others reunite with family members. Sarno said the State Department has not been receptive to his requests to stop sending refugees, echoing sentiments sometimes heard elsewhere. Lewiston, Maine, Mayor Robert MacDonald, who in 2002 asked Somalis there to help "reduce the stress on our limited finances," took heat a decade later for saying immigrants should "accept our culture and, and you leave your culture at the door." He later clarified that he didn't expect them to abandon their religion or language but said: "I'm not going to apologize for 'leave your culture behind.'" Manchester, New Hampshire, Mayor Ted Gatsas in 2011 asked the State Department to stop resettling refugees there. Last year, he told the AP he still believes the city could benefit from a break in arrivals to "get these people into working society." Such requests are rare, said Daniel Langenkamp, a department spokesman. "We make every effort to work with local officials and other stakeholders to ensure the resettlement of refugees is acceptable," he said. The Department, he said, does not place refugees unless an area is equipped to handle them. The government's work with refugees in Springfield is mostly about family reunification, and it cannot keep families from moving there if they are placed elsewhere, he said. Federal funding of about $1,800 per person helps resettlement agencies assist refugees for as long as eight months, but Springfield argues that is not enough time for some refugees to adjust. Robert Marmor, president of Jewish Family Services, a resettlement agency in Springfield, said that aid for additional services is available from other sources and that his door is always open. "It is unfortunate that 5 per cent of refugees who struggle are the focus and not the 95 per cent who are really making it," Marmor said. Somali refugee Adan Abdi, 28, came to Springfield in 2004 with his parents and six siblings after years in refugee camps where security, food and water were scarce and a couple of pounds of corn per person had to stretch for two weeks. "There is no comparing our new life in America to living in those camps," said Abdi, who has a wife and three children. "Springfield is my home. It's where I began my new life." SOURCE:
  12. A bestselling memoir by an Alberta woman held hostage in Somalia has been optioned by a Hollywood movie production company and Oscar-nominated actress Rooney Mara.Amanda Lindhout's A House in the Sky details torture and abuse the freelance journalist endured while she was held captive for 15 months, along with an Australian photographer.Annapurna Pictures says in a news release there was a competitive pursuit for the book's movie rights.The company has produced award-winning films such as American Hustle, Her and Zero Dark Thirty. Mara was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for her performance in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Actress Rooney Mara will star in and produce the film. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press)The release says the book is to be developed as a starring vehicle for Mara, who will also serve as a producer of the movie."Rooney Mara is someone whose talent and adventurous spirit I admire deeply," Lindhout, 33, says in the release."I'm thrilled that she's teaming with Annapurna Pictures to bring A House in the Sky to the screen. I can't imagine a better match."In the book, Lindhout recounts her childhood in Red Deer and the time she spent working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary before she became a travel junkie turned journalist.She and Nigel Brennan, an ex-boyfriend, were on their way to do a story about a camp for displaced people outside Mogadishu in August 2008 when they were taken by a group of armed men hoping to exchange their release for ransom money.They were not released until November 2009.The book reveals how the families of the kidnapped pair eventually gave up on the Canadian and Australian governments and co-ordinated their release through a private hostage negotiator. About $600,000 went to the kidnappers and the same amount paid the negotiator's fees. Source:
  13. Photos: Courtesy of Mario Testino/VogueDuring an appearance on Ellen back in February, Lupita Nyong'o denied the rumours that she was dating fellow Oscar-winner Jared Leto. For those who wanted to know who Nyong'o wasdating rather than who she was not dating, this clarification was only partially helpful. Yes, one suspect was eliminated, but there remain hundreds of millions of eligible men on the planet, any one of which could, in theory, be a Nyong'o suitor.In the new issue of Vogue, Nyong'o is much more helpful: the 31-year-old 12 Years Slave starreveals that she is dating K'naan, the Somali-born rapper best known for his single "Wavin' Flag", the official anthem of the 2010 World Cup. According to Vogue writer Hamish Bowles, the pair are a natural match due their mutual interest in "the myriad issues confronting their homelands."Elsewhere in Vogue's profile, Nyong'o reveals some of film and stage projects that she currently has her eyes set on.In addition to starring in Star Wars: Episode VII and lending her voice to an animated reboot ofThe Jungle Book, Nyong'o hopes to star in stage productions of Danai Gurira's Eclipsed (about the Liberian civil war) and The Convert (about the introduction of Christianity to southern Africa) as well as a film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah. “The book blew me away,” she says of Adichie's novel, which tells the story of a young Nigerian woman who moves to America in order to attend university. “This was a project I wanted to work on, and I pursued it with all my being. It’s an unabashedly romantic book, really inspiring and uplifting. I found myself in her pages.”Nyong'o, who once played the role of Juliet at the age of 14 in her native Kenya and went on to reprise the role at Yale, is also eager to star in a Shakespearean production. “I thought I’d had my fill at Yale, but . . . oh, boy, I guess there’s nothing like the Bard!” she says. “I absolutely adore Twelfth Night.”All of these projects would have been unthinkable just one year ago. But after her performance in 12 Years a Slave and the constant trips down the red carpet that that performance led to, Nyong'o now has the clout to make them happen.Regarding her multiple red carpet appearances during last year's awards season, Nyong'o has mixed feelings. “Everyone said, ‘Brace yourself, Lupita! Keep a granola bar in that clutch of yours!’” she remembers. “I didn’t really understand what they meant, and it was only once it was past that I realized that my body had been holding on by a thread to get through this very intense experience. Nothing can prepare you for awards season. The red carpet feels like a war zone, except you cannot fly or fight; you just have to stand there and take it.” After realizing that the preceding sentence could be read as insensitive to people who live in actual war zones, Nyong'o quickly backtracks. “I hope they don’t make that the big quote! Because that would be sad! Tell them not to do that!”For more of Lupita's gorgeous spread, hit up or pick up the issue, hitting newsstands June 30.
  14. Last week the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay spoke at Chatham House. The talk was about the country's successes and the difficulties it faces: the role of the UN mission in Somalia (Unsom) and the "political in-fighting within the government".But there's in-fighting elsewhere that he would have been unlikely to mention: the power struggle between the UN and the current government. It comes down to who should govern Somalia: Somalis or foreigners?Mr Kay is seen as the most powerful man in the country. He is accused of undermining the government, siding with Somalia's archenemies, Ethiopia and Kenya, blackmailing and threatening those who oppose him, including the president, and generally using divide-and-rule tactics. This is a critical year for Somalia. The people have set themselves an ambitious agenda for reform. Aleem Siddique, Unsom Responding to the allegations, Aleem Siddique, Unsom spokesperson said: "The United Nations is mandated to support and help co-ordinate international assistance for Somalia's state and peace building efforts."This is a critical year for Somalia. The people have set themselves an ambitious agenda for reform. Unsom is committed to supporting these efforts, guided by the principles of Somali ownership and leadership to restore peace and stability for all Somali people."With no functioning central authority caused by the country's two-decade-long war, most local administrations receive some sort of financial or military support from foreign entities. Therefore, as a matter of fact, non-Somalis have leverage in the country. 'Yes men'For instance, the current central government in Mogadishu cannot survive without the backing of the African Union forces, which is part of a UN mission.Relying on external actors means that, in Somalia, all want to have influence. The main players are the UN, the US, the EU, international NGOs, the African Union, neighbouring countries, Arab nations and Turkey, a relative newcomer.In public, all of them say they have the same vision, but the reality is that they have their own agendas and interests, which at times collide.Abukar Arman, a writer and former Somali diplomat thinks the whole problem is that "there is no clear demarcation of executive authority" between top two Somali leaders and also amongst key international bodies. [Authority in Somalia] boiled down to a game of diplomatic stare-down that sidelines the one who blinks first. Abukar Arman "So, it boiled down to a game of diplomatic stare down that sidelines the one who blinks first. Meanwhile, the Somali government functions within said power dynamic and blinks on most occasions."But some believe that the current leaders want to look different to their predecessors, whom the Somali public regarded as "yes men".The local media often analysis Mr Kay's appearances, speeches and photo-shoots with foreign players. And people become suspicious when he's pictured comfortably sitting with Ethiopian or Kenyan leaders, Somalia's foes.What's more, Somalis are uneasy with the UN man speaking on behalf of them on international arenas, especially when there is a government that should be playing that role.Senior government officials told me that they have even considered filing an official complaint against the UN man in the hope of changing him. 'Decades of bloodshed'Somalia faces numerous obstacles in its desire to end decades of bloodshed. Some are obvious, others not. Current leaders accept they cannot achieve progress without outside help.But they would like to claim some sort of ownership of the process. They also feel that the very people who were supposed to support them are sabotaging the system for their own sake.As Mr Arman puts it, there are "some influential elements - domestic and foreign profiteers - who are hell-bent on keeping business as usual".Meanwhile, ordinary Somali citizens who suffer most are holding onto their hope for a better tomorrow. It's those civilians that decision makers should be thinking about.Jamal has won several awards including the Royal Television Society (RTS) Independent Award 2012, the Amnesty International Gaby Rado Memorial Award 2010, the news story of the year prize at the Foreign Press Association (FPA) Awards 2009; the prize for Kingston University News Reporter of the Year 2009; was nominated for the FPA Sports Award 2011, the RTS Independent Award 2010; Amnesty International Media Awards 2009; Rory Peck Impact Award 2009
  15. DADAAB, Kenya — Most people in the world have never even heard of Winnipeg. For a teacher and an electrician trapped in the world’s largest refugee camp, Manitoba’s capital is the place of their dreams. Enlarge ImageKids in Ifo, one of the oldest refugee camps at Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp. (CAROL SANDERS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) They have loved ones in Winnipeg who hope to bring them to Canada to live one day; loved ones who see all the opportunities and unfulfilled potential.The teacher and electrician live in Dadaab — in the hot, orange-dust desert of northeastern Kenya not far from the border with Somalia. There, more than 357,000 refugees live in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ five camps. Many have been there since civil war broke out in Somalia more than 20 years ago. Recent drought and famine drove tens of thousands more to the camps — Dagahaley to the north and Ifo, Ifo II, Hagadera and Kambioos in the south.The Canadian government has stopped taking many of the mostly-Somali refugees and basically imposed moratorium on any new private refugee sponsorships. For family members here and there, the wait is excruciating.* * * Enlarge ImageFarah and Hassan Mohamed Abdi, outside their home in Dagahaley refugee camp, Dadaab, while Kenyan security forces hired by the Free Press to prevent a reporter's kidnapping guard the entrance to their home. (CAROL SANDERS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) In the warrens of the Dagahaley refugee camp, a young family struggles to get through the dusty, 40-degree Celsius day surviving on little more than love.Three-year-old Kalson has cerebral palsy after a difficult birth and the little girl can’t move on her own. She has convulsions and is in constant pain."She cries always," says her father, Hassan Mohamed Abdi.Three-day-old baby Abdi Hafed sleeps peacefully in their hut under a mosquito net. He was born at the Dagahaley hospital with no complications.Toddler Hamdi, 18 months, looks at a postcard of a cute polar bear cub from Canada while her dad holds Kalson on his lap and shows her the winter Travel Manitoba guide with pictures of full grown polar bears.Hassan stays up nights so his wife, who’s just given birth to their third child, can sleep."I help the mother," says the tall, thin man in English."I love her so much — she is so caring and very hardworking. I love her too much." Enlarge ImageThe kitchen at Farah and Hassan Mohamed Abdi's home. (CAROL SANDERS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) He smiles wearily.Hassan is a headmaster at a Dagahaley primary school. The lack of sleep is taking a toll on the teacher’s performance in class, he admits. "When I go to do my duty I can’t perform."It’s troubling trying to balance his two loves — his wife, Farah, and teaching, he says.Hassan, now 30, was an exceptional student growing up in the refugee camp won a two-year scholarship to the Mt. Kenya University in Nairobi where he earned a teaching certificate. It’s been his calling since he was a little boy."That’s my profession. I used to play at teacher."His parents, animal herders in Somalia, fled to Dadaab in 1992 because of Somalia’s civil war. They don’t read or write, but always supported him in his goals.A new baby and a suffering three year old aren’t the only reasons Hassan has trouble sleeping."There’s a lot challenges — security problems. We don’t sleep here."There have been bombings, attacks, rapes and abduction. People are scared, he says, and they feel trapped."It’s impossible for us to go back to Somalia. Government officials there are killed every day. Here in Kenya, we can’t get out. We’re not allowed to live (outside the refugee camp) in Kenya."Their food ration is one big sack of white flour and one bag of maize — food that’s too hard on the systems of their sick and young children. A can of infant formula costs a fortune.He and Farah, also 30, have mothers in the camp who help them out. But Hassan is pinning his hopes on his uncle in Winnipeg and a change of heart for the Canadian government."I requested him to sponsor me but because of the government he’s not able to."The governing Conservatives placed a tight cap on the number of new refugee sponsorships to deal with a backlog of applications. Enlarge ImageAbdikheir Ahmed, seen here at Red River College in Winnipeg. (PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) If and when Hassan and his family ever get to Winnipeg, they’ll be taken under the wing of an expert in newcomer settlement."He will have a nice time," his uncle, Abdikheir Ahmed, says in Winnipeg. He adds with a laugh: "He won’t be like me."Ahmed, a university-educated Somali, arrived in Canada in 2003 by way of Kenya and claimed refugee status."I lived in a rooming house in the West End and made $6.75 an hour at Sals as a baker."He went back to university and got a second degree in 2007 and volunteered in the after-school program at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM).The struggling newcomer almost gave up finding work in his field. The day he registered for a taxi cab licence, he was offered a job running IRCOM’s after-school program.'The system is not set up for people who were not born here. The good thing is there is a lot of resilience.' -- Abdikheir Ahmed, on adapting to life in WinnipegIt was a time when gangs like the African Mafia were actively recruiting vulnerable newcomer kids in the inner city. Ahmed saw after-school programs as a way to counter the gang influence and applied for funding to expand the one at IRCOM. The two-person staff grew to nine and the $50,000 budget increased tenfold to $500,000. Ahmed went to graduate school in Australia for peace and conflict studies and returned to IRCOM to serve a term as its executive director.He’s currently runs the Citizens Bridge program for the North End Renewal Corp. It helps community members access government identification, driver’s education and licences and credit union accounts.His next mission is to design a local "immigration partnerships program" for the federal government to help newcomers hit the ground running."When you come, you have a lot of hope and optimism," Ahmed says.But folks like him soon learn that their credentials and experience aren’t recognized and housing isn’t designed for their big families. They discover they have to start at the bottom once again."The system is not set up for people who were not born here," he says. "The good thing is there is a lot of resilience."Ahmed, who is now married with two children, said his nephew Hassan in Dadaab has made the most of his gifts and what was available to him. He excelled in education programs in the refugee camp and earned a rare university scholarship. His university degree isn’t a ticket out of Dadaab, though. He’s stuck there until the Canadian government lifts the cap on new sponsorship applications. Whenever there’s news of a refugee going to Canada, his nephew gets in touch, asking if the moratorium has been lifted."He still has a lot of hope. Many are living on this hope."* * * Enlarge ImageAbdirashid Abukar Mohamud, in the Ifo refugee camp, holds a Travel Manitoba summer guide. He hopes to live and work as an electrician in Winnipeg one day. His Winnipeg uncle Abdi Bashir Ismail who got out of Dadaab in 2003 and is sponsoring his nephew to come to Winnipeg. (CAROL SANDERS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Abdirashid Abukar Mohamud, 28, blushes when he looks at a portrait of himself as an adolescent in clothes now a decade out of date. It’s the photo that his uncle in Winnipeg shows people who ask "who is this nephew in Dadaab you’ve sponsored to come to Canada?"Now he’s an adult, and works as an electrician in Ifo, the oldest refugee camp in Dadaab. A relative owns a shop that does wiring, repairs generators and hooks people up to the juice."I learned as I went," says the young man who’s received more than his fair share of shocks."I’ve got practical experience," he smiles, speaking Somali through an interpreter.The high school graduate wishes he had formal training and could learn the trade, start his own business and have a family. It could become a reality if his application for permanent residence in Canada is approved, he says."I could improve my electrical experience, earn my papers, work for myself and get married."Every month, he talks to his uncle in Winnipeg who sponsored him and practises his English with cousins there.As he talks, he holds a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada dated Dec. 23, 2010. It’s the last letter he’s had from the department."My biggest hope is resting with my uncle in Winnipeg," says Abdirashid, a single man who lives with relatives in Ifo. He’s dead if he goes back to Somalia, he says, and he can’t leave the refugee camp. "I’ve got a lot of frustrations here," he says while sitting on a tiny canvas stool in the shade of his hut."There’s insecurity — I can’t travel out of the camps because of discrimination and I can’t walk freely at night. I’m from a minority clan and sometimes I’m abused."Not just by other clans, he says, but by police.'Kenyan soldiers came and beat everyone in the market. You have to bear with it and get over it.' -- Abdirashid Abukar Mohamud, on life in the Ifo refugee campWhen bad things happen, police launch indiscriminate revenge attacks, he says, showing a scar on his arm."Kenyan soldiers came and beat everyone in the market. You have to bear with it and get over it."Plus, there are IEDs around the camp, he says.He’s lived in Ifo for four years since fleeing Somalia. His father was killed by militia in 2007, his brother is still missing and his mother is alone there."The biggest thing that is bugging me is I left my mom in Somalia and I can’t support her with the peanuts I’m earning here, or search for my brother."Abdirashid doesn’t dream of a lavish lifestyle in Canada but to earn enough to support his mom, find his brother and maybe have a family of his own."I haven’t given up. I still have hope."Where does he see himself in 10 years?"I think of myself being in Winnipeg, living in a good house with my kids and my wife leading a good life." Enlarge ImageManitoba Somali Association president Abdi Bashir Ismail. His nephew, Abdirashid Abukar Mohamud, is in Dadaab. (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) His uncle, Abdi Bashir Ismail, got out of Dadaab in 2003. Now he’s trying to help his nephew whom he has hasn’t seen since he was an 11-year-old boy.Ismail was a government-assisted refugee when he arrived in Canada. He worked in Hamilton, Ont., then moved to Calgary where he worked cutting the heads off of chickens and changing tires on big trucks. He sponsored his wife and kids in the refugee camp to join him. After three years in Calgary, they realized they needed to get their four sons to a "quieter" city away from the gangs that were preying on young newcomers."I talked to friends here in Winnipeg who said it’s quiet and there’s no trouble."The family found the peace they were looking for. Ismail’s oldest is 20 and the youngest is four and they’re all involved in sports.Ismail got involved in the local community and became president of the Somali Association of Manitoba in 2013. He’s gone back to school to improve his job prospects.Ismail said he never imagined in the 1990s the trouble in Somalia would get so bad he and his family would have to leave their home in Kismayo. Enlarge ImageA child checks out a westerner in the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (CAROL SANDERS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) The young family fled to Kenya and ended up in Dadaab. Life in the crowded refugee camp was safer but not easy.Today, refugees in Dadaab with family in Canada feel more stuck than ever, Ismail says, because of the moratorium on new sponsorship applications and the backlog of old ones.When Ismail applied to sponsor his nephew in 2010,Citizenship and Immigration told him to expect to wait 48 months to hear anything.If the application gets processed and his nephew makes it to the next stage — an interview with a visa officer — it’s virtually meaningless.Canadian visa officers no longer go to Dadaab because of security concerns. Refugees can’t leave the UN camps to go to the Canadian visa office in Nairobi for fear of being arrested."It’s very challenging," Ismail says.He wishes the Canadian government would set up videoconferencing between Dadaab and the visa office in Nairobi to get the ball rolling for people languishing like his nephew.The Canadian government discontinued the process without explanation, said UNHCR resettlement officer in Dadaab, Tasha Libanga."It was quite disheartening," she says. "I feel bad for the refugees. Their options are so limited."Citizenship and Immigration Canada said it conducted more than 60 videoconference interviews during a three-month trial period in 2012 but it wasn’t a reliable system because of audio and video technical difficulties.Dadaab has seen permanent resettlements drop from 10,000 a year — mostly to the U.S. — to just 2,000 last year."All these countries pulling out is not helping at all," she says.The stalwarts — Sweden, the U.K. and Norway — still help urgent cases, such as rape victims and survivors of torture: "They move real quick," she says.For the other refugees?"There’s no light at the end of the tunnel."
  16. Hundreds of people, both for and against the banning of the drug khat, filled the streets of Harlesden this afternoon trying to get their voices heard.Brent police hosted an awareness day to let regular khat users and dealers know about the drug becoming illegal as of June 24.Khat is a drug, mainly used in the Somalian community, it is a green leafed shrub and sells at about £4 a bunch but only remains potent for a few days after picked.The new ban has created mixed views among the communities in Brent, some are pleased to see it go, others are not. Somalis in Southall warned earlier this week thatkhat users might turn to alcohol following the ban.The Sunrise cafe in Church Road, Harlesden used to be a Khat cafe, the new owners have converted it to a regular cafe, owner Ubah Nur said: "I believe the community will profit in a positive way from the ban, I do not believe that people need to use khat. The majority of the community will accept the new law, they do not want to pay fines. You can socialise from so many different ways, you do not need to use it."Khat is strongest when the fresh leaves are chewed but can also be made into a tea or chewable paste.Loula Ofleh is against the ban coming into action, she owns a cafe in Church Road, at the back of the shop there is an area used only for khat users. She said: "This ban will affect the life of everyone here, I do not know what to do, it will definitely affect my business, the business is good at the moment, I am now worried, all my family are in the area and I have been here for three years, it has always worked well." Loula Ofleh owns a cafe in Church Road, here, she is stood at the back of her shop in the area men come and chew on Khat, she is against the ban. A protester on the street, Mohamed Guled, 34, said: "I used to use it all the time, but I have given up, it messed me up. I hate it now I think it should be banned, it is not a good thing and it is destroying our community."Hussein Hersi works at The Unity Centre in Harlesden, he is not a khat user but is against the ban coming into action, he said: "I think it will tear up the community, it is a cultural thing, it will make people very angry and it is going to ruin so many people's businesses. It will affect a lot of people."The drug will be made class C and police are warning if users are caught with it, you could spend up to two years in prison.Superintendent, Simon Rose from Brent Police attended the awareness day, he told the Observer: "Khat is going to be banned as a Class C drug, obviously we are aware it is consumed by mainly the Somali and Yemeni community, it has been legal in the UK for a long time, so it is a big change."We have been working with the community to explain the implications of the ban and helping them to prepare. The whole effort is to prevent people coming into contact with the police with the possession of khat after the ban." A man walks through the hustle and bustle with a bag of Khat in his hand. For confidential help and advice for khat users and families, contact 0800 107 1754. Business support for those affected by the ban contact
  17. Once again African countries seem to be trudging the long beaten path of failure at the ongoing World Cup in Brazil endorsing fears that the continent’s pursuit for more than five slots will hit yet another brick wall.So far with all the five teams having had a go at their opening games, it is looking grim for African countries with Ivory Coast being the only team to have managed a win overcoming Japan 2-1 in a come from behind performance.Even that performance may not have come in the most convincing of fashions still leaving lingering doubts if after the first round Africa will still have representation.For Cameroon it was a familiar tale of failure since the dizzying heights of Italia 90 that saw them pioneer a quarter final appearance ever for any African country and from then on time has stood still for the not so indomitable lions.In a group that houses hosts and record five time champions, Cameroon went down 1-0 to Mexico. Given they still have a date with Luka Modric’s Croatia and Brazil few can bet on the Africans making it beyond their group. Cameroon looked flat and any keen football follower will tell you their poor performance is only rivaled by Honduras so far.Nigeria had looked like the team most likely to carry the African hope beyond the Group stage but came short on a night they were expected to at least do Africa proud with a win over Carlos Queiroz’s Iran but the African champions blew that chance.With Argentina still lying in wait, there is little optimism Nigeria will pull it off against Bosnia and Herzegovina having looked disinterested against a relatively beatable Iranian side. The Super Eagles’ best World Cup performance remains their 1994 second round finish and on their subsequent appearances have remained mere passengers.The Black Stars of Ghana were perhaps handed the harshest of draws among the African teams and may have well kiss their World Cup goodbye when they lost to arguably the weakest team in the group or rather their best bet for three points in the USA.Credit to them they have been Africa’s biggest performance flag carriers at the last two World Cups including a quarter final appearance in 2010 that was brought to a crashing end after a Luis Suarez handball with star striker Gyan Asamoah missing the resultant penalty. With Germany and Portugal in wait there is a very slim chance the Black Stars could be among the flag carriers after the first round.Algeria were handed the brightest of starts when they went into the half time break leading tournament dark horses Belgium but capitulated in the second half to lose 2-1 and sum up the African story thus far in Brazil.The North Africans will have to await the Russian and South Korean challenge to see how far they can go in the tournament where they are yet to go past the first round.Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast for all their frailties remain Africa’s biggest hope after their opening victory over Japan. Largely viewed as the Ivory Coast’s golden generation’s last shot at glory, Drogba, African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure, his brother Kolo and Solomon Kalou among others could fancy their chances against Colombia and Greece in subsequent games and perhaps mark a befitting send off to the golden generation.Yet the overrall performance of the African brothers will be unconvincing and continue to dwarf the voice of reason advocating the continent’s 52 members deserve much more than the five slots given to them for the tournament held once every four years.
  18. Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a Calgarian in his early 20s, is fighting overseas with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, CBC News has learned. Shirdon, who was enrolled in the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology until at least 2012, appears in an ISIS video released two months ago. Before burning his Canadian passport, Shirdon, in full view of the camera lens, issues a threat to Canada, the U.S. and "all oppressors." "We are coming and we will destroy you by the will of God," Shirdon says on the video. He comes from a prominent and well-educated Somali family. His father’s brother, Abdi Farah Shirdon, was a former prime minister of Somalia who has survived numerous attempts on his life by al-Shabab militants fighting for an Islamic state in Somalia under the banner of al-Qaeda. Shirdon’s mother and sister live in Calgary and are deeply involved in the religious life of their community. CBC News reached out to them repeatedly, but they would only say they are "confused and pained by Farah’s choice," before asking for privacy. Shirdon is the latest radicalized young man from Calgary to be identified by CBC News. In January, the CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault first reported on the death of Damian Clairmont, a 22-year-old Canadian-born Muslim who left Calgary for Syria in 2012 and was killed by rebel infighting there. CBC News also reported on Salman Ashrafi, a Calgary man involved in a November 2013 suicide mission in Iraq under the banner of ISIS. A ‘regular guy’ Both Clairmont and Ashrafi were members of a small group of at least six men who used an apartment building in downtown Calgary as a hub to discuss radical ideas and chart their path to jihad in Syria and Iraq, CBC News has learned, but it’s not clear if Shirdon was a member of their inner circle as well. 'He has evolved big time, I don’t remember him even saying anything like that ... he was just a regular guy.' — Hamza Ayedi, outreach co-ordinator for Muslim youth in Calgary One reliable source declined to say if Shirdon was connected to the group, who prayed at the so-called 8th and 8th Musalla and frequented the same restaurants. Hamza Ayedi, an outreach co-ordinator for Muslim youth in Calgary who knew Shirdon, said he never saw Shirdon in the company Clairmont and Ashrafi, but that all three individually expressed the same sentiments of "not feeling comfortable living in this country" and "wanting to go live in a Muslim country." Ayedi said the ISIS passport-burning video became popular a few weeks ago when news began circulating in the community that one of their own can be seen participating. "I was really shocked because he has evolved big time, I don’t remember him even saying anything like that," said Ayedi, who last saw Shirdon this past September. “He was just a regular guy.” 130 Canadians have joined terror groups: CSIS After burning his passport and uttering threats of violence, it is unlikely Shirdon will be allowed back into Canada. But there is a concern now that even more residents of Calgary may follow his lead. No one knows for sure how many men from Calgary, or Canada as a whole, have left to wage jihad in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Farah Mohamed Shirdon appears in a passport burning video released on YouTube. In English, Shirdon issues threats against the West before burning his passport and stomping on it. (YouTube) Ayedi said that when CSIS visited him a few months ago, they showed him pictures of 10 Muslim men from Calgary and asked him what he knew about them or their whereabouts. In February, Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Michel Coulombe testified before the Senate national security and defence committee hearing that an estimated 130 Canadians had gone abroad to join terror groups in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and north Africa. Coulombe estimated that some 30 alone had left for the Syria-Iraq area. Coulombe also announced in late March that CSIS was tracking up to 80 Canadians suspected of having participated in terror activities abroad before returning to Canada. Low profile Shirdon’s passport-burning video was made to be seen — at one point, he lists the places ISIS wants to attack: "God willing, after Syria, after Iraq, after Jazeera (the Arabian Peninsula), we are going for you Barack Obama" — but he kept a low profile in Calgary. The source who declined to say if Shirdon belonged to the same group as Ashrafi and Clairmont did say that those two men and at least four others would hold secret meetings to avoid detection. So far, it’s been enough to keep CSIS and the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team playing catch-up. Calgary police said they’ve been watching radicalization in the city for eight years, and briefed city politicians on their work after news of Ashrafi’s suicide bombing. Neither the City of Calgary, local police or the RCMP would speak with CBC News on the extent of the threat to Canada or what is being done to tackle religious extremism at home. Source: CBC.CA
  19. Hodan Nalayeh knows what it takes to successfully integrate into a new culture and society. As one of 11 kids, she immigrated to Canada from Somalia with her family at age six in 1984 – and has thrived ever since.After graduating from Etobicoke’s West Humber Collegiate Institute, Nalayeh went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Windsor, then a postgraduate certificate in broadcast journalism from Seneca College.Following an early career in American radio and TV – where her credits included American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance – Nalayeh has now returned to her roots as host and executive producer of City’s Integration: Building a New Cultural Identity.The weekly, half-hour program showcases the Somali-Canadian experience through stories that “empower, enlighten and inspire.” Now mid-way through its 26-episode first season, Integration has, through the power of social media, spread beyond Toronto to the international Somali Diaspora.Full episodes of the show can be viewed online at more information, go to, follow @IntegrationTV on Twitter or visit the Integration TV page on Facebook.Q&A with Hodan Nalayeh1) Tell us about your background.My family was one of the first Somali-Canadian families to arrive in Canada in 1984. I was turning seven when we arrived in Edmonton, Alberta, which was -40 degrees in the middle of winter. My parents arrived with 11 children, and we grew up in Alberta as one of the few Somalis there for many years. My mom, however, thought people thrive better in networks, so she wanted us to relocate to Toronto, because it was better connected here and more Somalis were coming here in the 1990s. So we relocated to Toronto in 1992 and we moved to 79 John Garland Blvd.2) What was the neighbourhood like at that time?There was a lot of diversity, meaning that it was a lot of West Indians and there wasn’t really a lot of Somali families. Our house was across the street from the projects, so again you run into that not being part of the community again, because we were one of the few Somali families in that area. But as time progressed, more Somalis started moving in and I guess that’s when the whole place became more of a community place. Of course, it had a known bad reputation growing up anyway, because there was a lot of violence and things like that, but we didn’t really associate with that because we were busy going to school.3) The name of your show is Integration: Building a New Identity. What does “integration” mean to you?Integration means basically knowing who you are, as a person and as a culture that you come from, but also realizing that you are Canadian – because we are here now, growing up in this country, and we have children in this country. So, basically it’s taking those two identities and making the best of both worlds.You leave behind whatever you left – the war, the fighting, the corruption in that country – and you come to a country like Canada where you have democracy and freedom to practice your religion, to be who you want to be, to have all these opportunities. Basically, integration is balancing that new life, where you still keep your culture, but you embrace the new culture that you’re in. And I think a lot of Somalis have struggled with that – they haven’t embraced the culture of the new, because they’re afraid if they become too Canadian, they’re going to lose themselves.4) What was your inspiration for the show?What inspired me was what happened with the Mayor Ford scandal, because I saw that my community didn’t have a voice. There they were, being stigmatized by the media referring to all these young Somalis as “drug dealers”, but nobody was questioning why a prominent person like the mayor, who knows better, would be in a neighbourhood doing that. These were kids in poverty who were selling drugs because they can’t find jobs and don’t have any other outlets, yet the mayor, who is a multi-millionaire, is going into these neighbourhoods and doing drugs.So I think the media was unfair (in its portrayal of young Somalis), in that, instead of looking at it from the perspective of, you know what, there isn’t really any outreach to the Somali community, and there isn’t really that many leaders for us that have integrated, because many of the professionals in our community kind of shy away from getting involved, and that’s not right. We need to be more proactive for our community and kind of get back to the neighbourhood and say ‘I’m a role model, and I can help these kids realize a better vision for their lives.”5) Tell us about the show.It’s every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on CityTV and it’s basically a half an hour of inspiring young people, inspiring the community, but also talking about the social challenges that we have, because you can’t be all positive and not address the negatives. But we always try to leave with a solution.Basically what we do is share stories. A very powerful one we did is mental health in our community, which is a very big topic in Canadian society, period, but it’s actually even worse in a visible minority community like ours, because it’s such a shame...I had one girl on who suffered depression after a car accident with her sister, but her family was telling her ‘there’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t need medicine.’ But she realized if she didn’t get help, she would probably kill herself.So it’s just advocating on behalf of these people and telling their stories so that people can see themselves in it, and then want to be inspired by those stories.We also find successful people, like a Somali chiropractor who has seven clinics in Toronto, and a young Somali guy who designs apps and has a top-selling kids app right now – things that you would never know about Somali people.Integration also shows our religion, which is Islam, in a different light, which had not been shown on Canadian television before. We have an imam who’s very prominent in the community, his name is Sheikh Said Rageah and he is very powerful. He’s connecting with not just the Somali viewers, but with non-Somalis, too, by explaining the religion from a positive perspective, because obviously our religion has had a bad rap, too.6) What is your ultimate goal with the show? Who do you hope to reach?I hope to inspire young Somalis to really be active in their communities and to do more, to get involved, to be inspirational for the next generation. I have two children; I’m a mom of two young boys. I hope when they grow up and they’re going to university, they can say they have a media that talks to them and there are positive stories about who they are and what they’re about. I think it’s all about leaving a legacy for our children and giving back to the next generation.Source:
  20. In the last few years, Chase Lewis has patented two life-saving inventions, been a finalist in five national science competitions, and earned the Presidential Volunteer Service Silver Award. Oh, and he’s only 14 years old. Lewis, who is homeschooled, has long been interested in science and inventions. “My grandfather was an aeronautical physicist who worked on the Apollo program,” Lewis said. “I’ve gotten to spend some time with him, and we talk about science and inventions all the time.”Just last year, Lewis came in first in the ePals/Smithsonian Invent It Challenge and won a patent application for his entry, the Rescue Travois. The Rescue Travois is a cheap device that Lewis created in order to help individuals carry sick or injured people long distances easily. Lewis came up with the idea after reading about the famine in Somalia and how parents weren’t able to carry their sick children to hospitals and refugee camps.This year, he won again for his age group, and patented a football shaped canister that would allow first-responders to throw smoke masks up to people stuck in building fires.“I was thinking I would do something with fire retardants, but then I thought about the unfortunate fact that most people die from smoke inhalation before the fire fighters can even get to them,” Lewis said.Then, with the help of his 3-D printer, which he bought with competition prize money, Lewis thought up and printed his football canister. The canister has even caught the attention of Xcaper Industries, a company that manufactures smoke masks.Though Lewis has a special passion for science and inventing, he attributes a lot of his success to the flexibility he has in being homeschooled.“For all this time I’ve been home-schooled, I’ve had the ability to work on anything and everything I want to as long as it doesn’t kill me or somebody else,” Lewis said. “I’ve been able to grow up in a hands-on environment where I can tinker, and I’ve learned that the real-world has a lot of character that you won’t be able to find in an online world.”Next up for Lewis? No big deal, he's just been working on ways to improve current military body armor. Tony Stark, watch out, you may just be getting some real-life competition.Source:
  21. As a former detractor who has not been a fan of the Obama administration’s foreign policy toward Somalia, it is an overstatement to say that I watched Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman’s speech on June 3 with certain level of skepticism. Of course, nothing more than that healthy dose necessary in politics to clear the vision and fine-tune the mind. Nonetheless, I wasn’t expecting any substantive change.So, when a friend called me right before Ambassador Sherman unfolded the new policy to ask what I thought was coming, my response was, “Nothing more than kinder, gentler drone diplomacy.” But I was wrong, though not entirely.Ambassador Sherman’s speech at the USIP was perhaps the most comprehensive and insightful presentation on Somalia in the past two decades. Aside from the meaning conveyed through the script, the ambassador delivered it with the right temperament and tone.The Domestic SidePerhaps the most hope-inspiring aspect of the speech is the unequivocal declaration that the U.S. sees “unified Somalia” in its best interest and how the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) must get its house in line in order to help facilitate a negotiated political settlement.“Moving forward, [FGS] must preserve the strengths of these regional administrations while reconciling them with Somalia’s national identity. The appropriate means for accomplishing this include dialogue, ballot box and the judicial process,” said Ambassador Sherman. The U.S. “believes stable federal Somalia with a credible national government in Mogadishu is in the best interest of all Somalis. But to achieve this, there must be willingness to compromise on every side,” she added.Ambassador Sherman also underscored the importance of having clear and agreed-upon layout on geographical boundaries and demarcation of authorities- something that the Provisional Constitution omits. Aside from its potential to ignite future clan or greed-based wars, this contentious issue is critical “because investors would be reluctant to make commitments if there is confusion on who is in charge,” she declared.The Foreign SideThe speech was dotted with sufficient diplomatic signals that not only indicate U.S. readiness to do business with Somalia, but also to establish — especially with regard to the regional powers — that “there is a new sheriff in town.”Officially, the U.S. now have boots on the ground to train the Somali National Army, systematically do away with the ever-mushrooming private security contractors, and pave the way for an AMISOM exist. Though the latter has done a great job in helping to stabilize Somalia, it has been on a downward trajectory with regard to public confidence and support by Somalis ever since Kenya and Ethiopia had joined its ranks. Ever since they joined AMISOM, al-Shabbab which was swept out of Mogadishu since 2011, made a comeback with belligerent vengeance. Among other violent operations, they attacked Villa Somalia where both the Somali President and Prime Minister work and live and the Parliament while in session.What About The Ways of Old?Does this mean the Obama doctrine distinctively known for its “high-tech clandestine wars” and better known as “drone diplomacy” is being domesticated in the Horn? Hardly!The alarming trend in which the Obama administration has carried out at least “239 covert drone strikes, more than five times the 44 approved under George W. Bush,” as well as the (dual) multitrack policy in which the U.S. has dealt with all, save al-Shabaab, political actors of all shades would be retained as a safety net.All eyes are on the FGS and how it may decipher the new policy and what actions it might take.It has been sixteen months since then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answered a question regarding when the multitrack policy may end. Clinton said:“Today, we are taking a new step in our engagement….[we are] moving into a new era. I believe that our job now is to listen to the government and people of Somalia who are now in a position to tell us, as well as other partners around the world what their plans are, how they hope to achieve them. And, to leave no room for a doubt, she added “So, we’ve moved into a normal sovereign nation to sovereign nation position and we’ve moved into an era where we’re going to be good partner—a steadfast partner to Somalia, as Somalia makes the decision for its own future.”Geopolitics and Geo-economyThe gist of the message to the Somali leadership was this: Yes, terrorism is a threat. Yes, we still plan to drone down bad guys. But, make no mistake: We do not make foreign policy based on manageable threats that emanate from self-destructive religious thugs and simpletons, and we certainly did not builda massive floating military base for whale-watching. If it was only about terrorism, we would’ve never left Iraq and Afghanistan, and we would’ve shielded the president who used to put on military gear and visit Somali soldiers in the front lines.No offense, but with China’s rapidly expanding influence in the African continent and Russia’s sudden strategic moves to lure us, along with our European friends, into an economic checkmate, we thought our latest policy move could be the game changer that both our countries direly need.Reconciliation For ClosureAmbassador Sherman was correct in underscoring that “The truly defining test (for Somalia) would be an internal one.” Somalis, she said, “have to decide whether they want to exist as desperate clans isolated from the world and in conflict with one another or as a united country with all the attributes, benefits and responsibilities that such unity brings.”“Somalis should know if they choose to continue to come together, they will have enthusiastic and substantial international support.FGS should take this as a last call to save the Somali nation. The current leadership should let go their political bickering and immediately pave the way for a genuine reconciliation by appointing a non-controversial, credible traditional or religious patriot who could assemble and lead a diverse reconciliation commission.While “security, governance and development” are indeed important objectives, they are practically impossible to achieve without genuine reconciliation, and without the political will to sideline our good neighbors. And the latter can only be done by suspending Somalia’s membership of IGAD. Abukar Arman is a former diplomat (Somalia's Special Envoy to the US). He is a widely published political analyst. His focus is post-civil war Somalia, extremism, Islam, and US foreign policy. He is a DiploAct of a sort (fusion of diplomacy & activism).You may follow him on Twitter: @AbukarArman or reach him via e-mail:abukar_arman@yahoo.com
  22. MOGADISHU — As the Daily Sabah, we organized a trip to Somalia's capital Mogadishu, which is the most dangerous city in the world, according to the United Nations. In the country, which was ruined during the decades-long civil war that partially continues, we saw investments made by the Turkish government and Turkish NGOs. Although Turkey delivers humanitarian aid to dozens of countries around the world, Somalia is unique in that Turkey trains Somalis in areas from construction to the military. In an interview with the Turkish ambassador to Somalia, Kani Torun, we obtained information about the motivations behind the Turkish presence in the country and the threats posed by the al-Qaeda linked Bayt al-Shabaab, which targets Turks. The ambassador also discussed the facilities, projects and services carried out by Turkey. What are the motivations behind Turkey's presence in Somalia, and why did Turkey specifically choose Somalia to make both humanitarian and financial investments? Turkey has historical links with Somali dating back to the 16th century, the era of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. In some parts of Somalia, you can still see the heritage of the Ottoman Empire. The empire built water channels, castles and mosques. But Turkey became interested in Somalia in 2011 when there was a deadly drought across the country that forced thousands of people to leave their homes and flee from the south to the capital Mogadishu. Internally, displaced people needed food urgently. When this tragedy happened and the Somali government called on the world for aid, the Turkish government responded positively. Since the world ruined the country, the central government was too weak to cope with these problems. Moreover, the international community had left Somalia due to the war. On Aug. 19, 2011, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Mogadishu with some members of the Cabinet and his family. His visit was historic. Somalis called the visit an icebreaker. After Turkey came, other international actors followed. Our initial motivation to come was to help and deliver humanitarian aid to our Somali brothers. Turkish people donated as much as $300 million via both government institutions and NGOs. This money was used for humanitarian aid. After six months, namely April 2012, the U.N. announced that the famine was over. Following the announcement, we started services to develop the country while continuing the delivery of humanitarian aid. Somalis, who have cultural and historical ties with us, needed help. Also, Turkey wanted to expand its influence, as we wanted to improve our bilateral relations with not only Somalia but also with other African countries for mutual benefit. We call this a win-win situation. Somalia is a part of this strategy. That is why we started developing the country. Can you please tell us more about the activities carried out by Turkey in Somalia? Our activities focus on three main areas: humanitarian aid, helping in the development of the country and making financial investments to consolidate business. We have never stopped the delivery of humanitarian aid, as the people are still in need of main nutritional goods and clean water. In terms of development, we work mainly on four areas: health, education, infrastructure and the establishment of institutional buildings. We have built two hospitals so far. Another one is being built and will be in service in a few months. It will be one of the biggest hospitals in Africa. Another hospital is under construction and will be ready at the end of the year. We will build four more hospitals in different parts of Somalia. In terms of preventing illness the Turkish Red Crescent and the Istanbul Municipality have initiated a project to clean up the streets, as the city was full of mountains of rubbish when we came here since the civil war destroyed not only buildings but also municipal services. We have cleaned the rubbish and water channels and placed rubbish bags. Our trucks collect rubbish daily to turn Mogadishu into a normal city. We have built and opened four schools and two others just for orphans. One more will be opened soon. Additionally, we will build five more schools in several districts of the country. We are about to open a nursing school to train Somalis. We have selected 15,000 Somali students and given them full scholarships for their education in Turkey. In terms of infrastructural facilities, we have built 86 kilometer-long roads - 22 kilometers of which have streetlights. This is huge progress for Somalia. As soon as we came, we accelerated the renovation of the airport terminals. In March 2012, Turkish Airlines (THY) launched flights to Mogadishu. Before THY, there were no international flight from Somalia. Thus, THY is the only international airline company flying to Mogadishu. In a few months, the airport will be entirely renovated. We are changing the image of Mogadishu through infrastructural facilities. Before our investments, no other country came here. The UK opened an Embassy and the U.S. is to open one. But their embassies will be in the airport complex. They still think that Mogadishu is a no-go area. Yet, we are changing this mentality. The Somali diaspora has started to come back and contribute to their country. We also established governmental institutions by which I mean that we train Somalis and show them how to administrate ministries and security institutions and how to organize their work. Since the civil war destroyed everything, there was no government at all. But Somalia needs to be institutionalized. We are helping them to create these institutions. We train Somali police, intelligence and the military. Somalis are trained in Turkey in military academies to become colonels. Somalia will not need international forces for security in the coming years, as its army will be educated and well organized. I would like to touch on business activities as well. We have encouraged many Turkish businessmen to come here to make investments. A Turkish company currently runs the seaport, and another one runs the airport. Somalis are very businessoriented people, and we want to set up free zones to increase trade and investments. If Turkish businessmen bring Turkish goods, Somalis can sell them all over Africa, since the country lies in a critically strategic position. I believe that the best aid is trade. If we increase trade and create job opportunities for the people, they will not need humanitarian aid. Despite Turkey's struggle to develop the country and better standards of living in Somalia, why does the allegedly al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab target Turkey? If we deliver only humanitarian aid, Shabaab does not touch us. But when we started supporting the government, establishing institutions and training the army, Shabaab announced that Turkey was its enemy for cooperating with its enemies, referring to the Somali government and NATO. Yet, the main motivation behind Shabaab's attacks is that Turkey's presence, investments and projects help Somalia to become stabilized both politically and economically. The more people see that investments bring peace and stability the more Shabaab loses followers. Somalis understand that financial investments bring peace and prevent clashes. Therefore, they stop obeying and being loyal to Shabaab. Similarly, the PKK tries to sabotage road and airport construction in Turkey's southeast, since these developments bring stability to the region and destroy the loyalty of people. The Somalis prefer Turkey to Shabaab, as the group cannot offer any job opportunities or make any developments to better conditions. Do you think Shabaab is the only actor that is disappointed with the Turkish presence? Is there any other regional or international actor that does not want Turkey to be in Somalia? Shabaab is the main group that considers Turkey an obstacle to reaching their goals. However, some other international actors might be disappointed with Turkey's investments. The developments led by Turkey pave the way for a stronger Somali government. Some others may consider a strong central Somali government a threat for themselves. But Turkey insists that a peaceful and stabile Somalia is not a threat for the region. To the contrary, it will help the region. Yet, we do not compete with any other country. We are here to help Somalis, and we cooperate with the Somali government. What is the future of Somali-Turkish relations? Are there more plans and projects to be made? Somalia is divided into regions. Some of them claim independence. We have very good relations with all of them. Our relations are not limited to the central government. But we strongly support unity and the territorial integrity of Somalia. For instance, Somaliland, in the north, claims independence, and we are a mediator between Somaliland and the central government. We will increase our investments in other regions as well. Political relations will be strengthened with Somalia. We are about to complete several projects in Mogadishu. We will start projects in other cities in terms of health, education and other areas. How do the Somali people respond to Turkey? Do they see Turkey as an imperial power? We have very good relations with the people. We have huge popular support. The people admit that other countries came here because Turkey is here. They say that Turkey, a long-lost brother, came here to save us as they did before in history when the Portuguese navy attacked in the 16th century. Turkey bases its activities on mutual benefit and respects for Somalis. That is why they do not see Turkey as an imperial power or even compare it with other international powers. Source:
  23. In Somalia, Bantu children were denied education for decades, but this Somali Bantu boy, a new Tanzanian citizen, attends school in Chogo settlement in northeastern Tanzania.Tanzania’s Ministry of Home Affairs has granted citizenship to 3,000 people who were originally Tanzanians but were captured by Arab slave traders centuries ago and sold to Somalia. They returned following the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia. The ministry has also granted citizenship to 162,256 Burundians who migrated to Tanzania in 1972, ending a decade long confusion over their status. However, the government is facing a dilemma over whether to relocate them to other parts of the country or keep them in Tabora where they have lived for 40 years. The UN refugee agency had advised that the refugees be distributed to 52 districts countrywide. However, the relocation came to a halt when some of the areas earmarked asked for money to establish development projects to support them and others rejected the idea due to security concerns. The Bantu-Somalis are ethnically from the Wazigua tribe from northeast Tanzania. Centuries after their ancestors left Tanzania, they retraced the route they took as slaves. At a meeting with the former refugees to grant them naturalisation certificates in Tanga, the Minister for Home Affairs Mathias Chikawe said some 150 Somali-Bantu refugees had opted out, hoping that the situation in Somalia would stabilise and they could return. “I call upon the refugees granted the citizenship to refrain from being persuaded by terrorists to participate in terrorism,” Mr Chikawe said. The process to grant citizenship to Somali-Bantus was put on hold in 2010 after the government discovered that the process was marred with corruption. The refugees who rejected citizenship will remain at a refugee camp and maintain their refugee status. Mr Chikawe said the former Burundians are now Tanzanians, and that the government is hesitant to relocate them to other parts of the country because it would contravene their right to live in any part of the country as new citizens. UNHRC Representative in Tanzania Joyce Mends-Cole said making the Somali-Bantus citizens would enable them to build their lives and become self sufficient. “The decision by the Tanzanian government to welcome the descendants to reapply for their citizenship voluntarily is commendable. It shows the catalyst role Tanzania has played to look for solutions to global solutions,” she said.Source: The East African
  24. (KUTV) Somalian refugees are trying to grow the economy with goat ranches in Salt Lake. A recent goat birth excited Somalian refugees on a ranch just last week. Their hope is to turn the goat farm into a more profitable business particularly for other refugees.The goats are used to get rid of unwanted weeds and grasses on open land."We see our future here," said Ismael Mohamed, a refugee and goat herder.The refugees come from three different tribes or communities in Somalia. In their country, raising and eating goats is a regular part of life. "We don’t see anybody here have the goats," Gustave Degratiasi, another refugee said. Kennecott Copper, Utah State University’s Work Force Services and the LDS Church are changing that. They’ve introduced what’s called the East African Goat Project. They start by bringing goats on Kennecott Land. "We can apply herbicides, we can use mechanical means, but both of those provide quite an impact to the environment,” said John Birkinshaw, Kennecott Land resource manager. “Using goats as another tool is much more sustainable." Birkinshaw said UDOT did a project north on Legacy Highway recently where they had to import 2,000 goats from Texas to clear land. The Somalians' ranch currently has 75 goats. Each refugee has a job elsewhere and is only volunteering their time at the ranch. They've been working for about two years and plan to have hundreds in another two years. Once they have 500 or more goats, the ranching becomes a full-time job. "It makes me have more faith to see the future," Mohamed said.
  25. Amid tight security, Egypt’s President-elect Abdul Fattah Al Sissi is to be sworn in on Sunday as the country’s second head of state in two years. Al Sissi, who won a landslide victory in last month’s election, will be sworn by the 13-member general assembly of the Supreme Constitutional Court. He is likely to be transported to the venue in southern Cairo aboard an army helicopter for security reasons. As thousands of security forces have been deployed in the area, the elite Republic Guards have been put in charge of the court building where Islamist president Mohammad Mursi, deposed by the army last year, took the oath of office in 2012. Egyptian presidents used to go to their swearing-in ceremonies in a motorcade to greet their supporters, a tradition likely to be skipped by Al Sissi. The new president, who led the military’s overthrow of Mursi, has recently disclosed foiling two attempts on his life allegedly masterminded by Islamist insurgents. His swearing-in will be followed by an inaugural ceremony at the presidential palace in eastern Cairo. Kuwait Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, and Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz are among several dignitories who will attend the ceremony, according to Egyptian officials. Monarchs of Bahrain and Jordan as well as presidents of Palestine, Eritrea and Somalia are expected to attend too. In a sign of displeasure with alleged rights abuses in the post-Mursi transition, the bulk of Western countries will be represented by their ambassadors in Cairo at the inauguration. Meanwhile, the US has said it will be represented by Thomas Shannon, the counsellor to Secretary of State John Kerry. Washington and Cairo have been key allies since Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. However, the Egyptian-US ties have deteriorated since Mursi’s ouster, although Washington stopped short of calling the Islamist leader’s removal a coup. Mursi was Egypt’s first freely elected president, but his one-year rule was marred by political instability and public discontent about socio-economic problems. Earlier this week, the White House said it is looking forward to working with Al Sissi, but expressed concerns about what it called restrictions on freedoms of assembly and expression in Egypt. Only four countries — Israel, Qatar, Syria and Turkey — have not been invited to Al Sissi’s inauguration. Qatar and Turkey, staunch supporters of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, have been critical of Egypt’s new rulers. By ignoring Syria and Israel, Egyptian authorities have sought to avoid embarrassing Arab allies, who maintain no ties with both countries, observers say. Al Sissi’s supporters plan massive celebrations nationwide to mark his inauguration. Celebrated Emirati singer Hussain Jasmi was to perform Saturday evening in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of a 2011 uprising that forced long-time president Hosni Mubarak out of power, media reports said Al Jasmi has recently soared to popularity in Egypt with his hit “Boshret Kheir” or “A Good Omen”, which encouraged Egyptians to vote in the May 26-28 presidential elections. In the run-up to the inauguration, Egyptian police launched a nationwide crackdown on Mursi’s backers and arrested dozens of them for allegedly planning to disrupt street celebrations. In December, Egyptian authorities labelled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation after blaming it for a deadly attack on police headquarters in the northern city of Mansoura. Al Sissi, 59, is Egypt’s fifth ruler drawn from the military since a 1952 army-led revolution ended the monarchy system in the country. Print