Monday, January 9, 2017

Somali-Canadian Economist named to Carleton University's '75 for 75'  

Carleton University, a leading university in Ottawa, Canada, recently named Somali-born economist to its list of distinguished alumni.
Abdulqafar Abdullahi, a senior macro-fiscal economist with the World Bank and a member of Ottawa Somali community, is among Carleton Universities '75 for 75'.
To commemorate the institutions 75th anniversary, Carleton University is profiling 75 of it's most distinguished graduates from the Faculty of Public Affairs; releasing five new names every month until June 2017 when a reception will be held for the honorees.
The impressive list of honorees is a cross section of industry leaders and visionaries. It includes the current Mayor of the city of Ottawa, Chief Statistician of Canada, Attorney General of Ontario, Chief Economics Commentator of the Wall Street Journal, the host of CBC's Power and Politics, and Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada to name a few.
Success is a ladder
Mr. Abdullahi immigrated to Canada in 1992 after earning an MBA from Delhi University in India. After completing his studies in India he spent two years in Singapore and Thailand where he worked in various temporary jobs including a part-time teaching position at Assumption University in Bangkok.  Once he arrived Canada, unlike many educated immigrants who came over, Abdullahi was fortunate to have found work in his field.
“Despite the high unemployment rate when I arrived, I resisted in taking a job outside my field, and I was more fortunate than many of my fellow immigrants”.
He worked for Pearson Canada, the largest publisher of textbooks and academic material in Canada. Mr. Abdullahi worked there for seven years, becoming an integral part of the company. He was promoted to Senior Regional Sales and Editorial Representative.
The work gave Mr. Abdullahi the opportunity to travel Canada and the courage and confidence to go back to school.
“Although I was happy with my job in the Publishing industry, I realized a graduate degree from a respected Canadian University would be advantageous in the long run."
Abdulqafar Abdullahi went back to school and earned his Master’s in Economics from Carleton University in 2000. He soon landed a coveted job as an Economist with the Federal Department of Finance. For the next 13 years, he held various senior positions in Federal Government.
Abdulqafar Abdullahi has lived in Ottawa since 1998 and has been a role model for the Somali-Canadian community. As an educator, Mr. Abdullahi taught Economics at Algonquin College for 12 years and has mentored hundreds of Somali university students in Ottawa navigate their career paths.
"When I first started working with the Federal Government, there weren't many Somalis employed there," Abdullahi says as he reflects on his earlier days with the Department of Finance, "the last time I was at Portage (Federal Government office complex) I noticed there were a lot of young Somalis working there. It's great to them progressing with their careers and lives."
Rebuilding a Central Bank from Scratch
An economist by trade and a patriot at heart, Abdullahi sought out to rebuild the fragile Central Bank of Somalia in 2013. He served as a Senior Economic Advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank.
The precarious security situation coupled with personal reasons led to his own resignation from his post and the decision to return to Canada.
However, although he did not know it at the time, he would soon be back working on a plan to fix Somalia's fractured economy.
"Not long after I resigned from the Central Bank of Somalia and on my way to my old job, I received an offer from the World Bank that allowed me to continue to help Somalia in a different capacity."
Today, Abdullahi's position with the World Bank enables him to still work closely on forging an Economic policy for Somalia as the country begins to find its footing.
“I lead the intergovernmental fiscal relations support to Somalia and I am a member of a team that is providing technical support on macro-fiscal issues to the federal and state governments,” he says. “We’re helping Somalia develop its own model of a federal system of government by sharing international experiences and lessons learned from other countries—including lessons I learned while working on Canada’s equalization program.”
Somalia’s Diaspora community has been instrumental in sustaining its economy through remittances flow and investments. Now, Somalia needs the expertise and knowledge of its diaspora community to rebuild its institutions and government systems.
“Many Somalis have gained knowledge and experience and built successful careers in their adopted countries and could make incredible contributions to Somalia today”.

Please visit the  Carleton University's Faculty for Public Affairs for Mr. Abdullahi's full profile.

Friday, January 6, 2017

This photo of Ilhan Omar's swearing-in ceremony shows exactly why representation matters

Ilhan Omar, first Somali-American State Legislator
On Tuesday, Ilhan Omar made history in the United States in more ways than one when she was sworn into the Minnesota House of Representatives: She became the first female Muslim and Somali-American legislator.
Omar, who serves House District 60B in Minnesota, held the Quran during her swearing-in ceremony, becoming the second person to do so after Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim U.S. congressman and contender for DNC chairmanship.
One photo, in particular, shows just how powerful this moment was and exactly why representation matters in the political system today. In this photo, Omar is seen standing tall — donning colorful accessories and her bright orange hijab — among a sea of white faces. This is a historic sight that doesn't come too frequently for young women of color and Muslim Americans, especially in politics.
The U.S. Congress proves just how white, male and Christian dominated some of our political institutions are. The 115th Congress, which was sworn in on Tuesday, is the most diverse yet. Despite this, Congress is still about 80% male, around 80% white and about 8% are non-Christian. This is far from representative of the U.S. when, according to the Washington Post, more than half of Americans are female and white non-Hispanics only make up about 63% of the country's population.
The new Congress includes a record number of 21 women. In addition, women of color serving in the U.S. Senate quadrupled this year with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) inducted to the U.S. Senate joining Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

Why so many Somali-Americans celebrate their birthday on Jan. 1

When Mohamed Cali lived in Somalia, he sometimes saw people blowing out candles on cakes in the Hollywood movies he watched, but he didn’t understand what the practice actually meant.

He wasn’t aware that birthdays mean so much in Western countries that people celebrate them every year — a ritual that is uncommon in the East African nation. “If you don’t celebrate your birthday every year, then it’s tough to remember it,” said Cali, founder and president of a Minneapolis-based Somali-language radio station, KALY 101.7-FM.

But then, in the early 1990s, the U.S. government extended its refugee resettlement program to displaced Somali families fleeing clan-based warfare and droughts that brought them to crowded Kenyan refugee camps.

And it was in one of these camps where Cali filled out his first application to enter the United States, which the federal government requires of refugees entering the country. He had the right answers to most of the questions on the document, except one.
“I knew the year I was born,” said Cali. “But I didn’t know the date and month. [In Somalia], nobody asks your date of birth or your home address or Social Security information to get something.”
To complete the immigration papers, a resettlement official from the United Nations gave Cali Jan. 1 as his legal birth date.

As it turns out, that date is a popular one among refugees worldwide — and in Minnesota, where Cali not only shares his official birthday with many other Somali-Americans, but with many immigrants from places that don’t typically have official birth date records, including countries in East Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

All of which is why thousands of foreign-born Minnesotans turned one year older on New Year’s day, a phenomenon now so common that it draws waves of inside jokes this time of year on social media among the state’s immigrant communities.

Estimated birth dates

Somalis in Minnesota come from diverse backgrounds: Some led a nomadic lifestyle back in Somalia, where people relied mostly on a traditional calendar system for dates; others lived in big cities and towns where people used the 12-month calendar system their entire lives.
Those who came of age outside the cities are most often not familiar with their birth dates. In rural regions, where many people don’t have formal educations, people don’t use the January-December calendar system to record important dates. Instead, they use the four seasons of the year and historic national events as markers of significant dates.

“If someone was born in Abaartii Dabadheer [a major drought that took place in the ‘70s], the nomads would say he or she was born Abaartii Dabadheer,” said Abdulahi Warsame, who runs news programs at KALY radio. “Everybody gets it. And people can translate what that means into the modern calendar.”

Ahmed Ismail Yusuf: “There were a few of us who had driver’s licenses or passports in Somalia. And we all had to make up birth dates on the spot to get those documents.”
In Minnesota, the Somali-Americans who fall into this category are often the community’s oldest generation, who spent the better part of their lives in a nomadic lifestyle. That often means refugee resettlement agencies in the camps assigned them estimated birth dates, which might be a couple of years older or younger than their actual birth dates.

The same is true for Afghans, Sudanese, Ethiopians and Iraqis, according to a 2013 Minnesota Law Review report that noted that more than 200,000 immigrants and refugees in the U.S. have Jan. 1 as their date of birth. “These approximated birth dates allow the government to administer benefits and track and control immigration flow,” Ross Pearson wrote in the report, “but they lack both certainty and accuracy.”

Few records

For Somalis, there are also historical reasons for the lack of accurate dates of birth. In the early 1960s — when Somalia gained its independence — more people emigrated to cities and town across the country for access to education, transportation and employment. As a result, many in the country began to rely on the Western calendar system for work and school schedules as well as for holiday vacations.

Yet the impoverished Somali government didn’t have adequate social institutions that documented birth dates or issued certificates for new babies. On top of that — like many countries in the developing world — most citizens of the country didn’t have official identification cards and driver’s licenses, said Ahmed Ismail Yusuf, author of “Somalis in Minnesota.”

“There were a few of us who had driver’s licenses or passports in Somalia,” Yusuf added. “And we all had to make up birth dates on the spot to get those documents. Everybody knew they weren’t real. Even government officials knew about that.”

In some cases, though, parents kept personal files and photos of their children’s births. Others kept archives of radio announcements, which has long been common in the country when a couple gets married or a child is born.

But when the civil war broke out in 1991, many families — like Cali’s — lost those documents as they crossed oceans or walked for weeks to find stability in neighboring countries. “Nobody was concerned about IDs or birth information,” Cali said. “People were in survival mode. They didn’t have the luxury to talk about when they were born. They were busy working to stay alive.”

Birthday celebrations take hold in America

Today, however, young people in Minnesota’s Somali-American community pay as much attention to birthday celebrations as their non-Somali counterparts.

Yusuf, who has a 10-year-old U.S.-born son, said his child never misses a birthday.

“The kids and their parents live in two completely different worlds,” he said. “My son counts down to his birthday every single year. Many years back, I used to laugh at him when I heard him or other people talk about birthday parties or celebrations.”

Cali, whose children were also born in the U.S., said his kids also celebrate their birthdays — and he celebrates with them: He takes them out to eat and buys them gifts. “I still get confused about their dates,” he said of his eight kids, who were mostly born in March, April and May. “The only way I can remember is to look at their documents.”

And today, the combination of America's preoccupation with celebrations and the commonality of Jan. 1 birthdays has led to a predictable phenomenon. The first day of each year, messages poking fun at Somali-Americans with New Year's Day birthdays blanket Facebook and Twitter feeds.
As one Twitter commenter noted Sunday: “Happy birthday to every Somali on earth.”

Source: MinnPost

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Today marks the observance of the Birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 

Mawlid (Arabic: مَولِد النَّبِي‎‎ mawlidu n-nabiyyi, "Birth of the Prophet", sometimes simply called in colloquial Arabic مولد mawlid, mevlid, mevlit, mulud among other vernacular pronunciations; sometimes ميلاد mīlād) is the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad which is celebrated often on the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. The 12th Day of Rabi' al-awwall is the most popular date from a list of many dates that are reported as the birth date.
The origin of Mawlid observance reportedly dates back to the period of the early four Rashidun Caliphs of Islam. The Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588. The term Mawlid is also used in some parts of the world, such as Egypt, as a generic term for the birthday celebrations of other historical religious figures such as Sufi saints.
Most denominations of Islam approve of the commemoration of Muhammad's birthday; however, some denominations including Wahhabism/Salafism, Deobandism and the Ahmadiyya disapprove its commemoration, considering it an unnecessary religious innovation (bid'ah or bidat). Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday in most of the Muslim-majority countries of the world except Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are officially Wahhabi/Salafi.
The date of Muhammad's birth is a matter of contention since the exact date is unknown and is not definitively recorded in the Islamic traditions. The issue of the correct date of the Mawlid is recorded by Ibn Khallikan as constituting the first proven disagreement concerning the celebration. Among the most recognisable dates, Sunni Muslims believe the date to have been on the twelfth of Rabi' al-awwal, whereas Shi'a Muslims believe the date to have been on the seventeenth.
Mawlid is celebrated in almost all Islamic countries, and in other countries that have a significant Muslim population, such as India, the United Kingdom, Nepal, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Canada. The only exceptions are Qatar and Saudi Arabia where it is not an official public holiday and is forbidden. However, as a result of Wahhabi and other strict traditionalist Muslim influence, since the last decades of the late 20th century there has been a trend to "forbid or discredit" Mawlid (along with similar festivals) in the Sunni Muslim world.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Muslim MTA Worker Called 'Terrorist,' Pushed Down Stairs at Grand Central Terminal: Officials

The attack comes amid a 35 percent spike in hate crimes year over year in the city

A Muslim MTA worker was called a terrorist and pushed down the stairs at Grand Central Terminal on Monday, the latest in a string of alleged bias attacks sweeping the region, authorities said. 
The woman, wearing her New York City transit uniform, was on her way to work and had just gotten off the 7 train when the suspect shoved her, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.
She hurt her ankle and knee in the fall and was taken to NYU Langone Hospital for treatment.
The attack comes amid a spate of apparent instances of bias crime and hateful language throughout the region following the presidential election.
Swastikas were painted inside a 1 train on Saturday, and KKK recruitment materials were distributed in two Long Island Railroad stations. 
In New York City, hate crime has spiked 115 percent since Election Day, with 43 cases reported compared with 20 cases in the same period in 2015, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. Bias against Muslims has doubled, with four cases reported since Election Day compared with two reported in the same time period last year.
Overall, hate crimes are up 35 percent year over year, with a 45 percent uptick in arrests, Boyce said. 
Discrimination has also been reported in schools. Suffolk County officials sent a letter to each of its school districts in recent weeks offering to help deal with race-based bullying, and in at least one instance students chanted "build a wall" in the hallways.
There have been similar reports of bias across the U.S. in the wake of the presidential election. Most of the cases appear to involve graffiti or violence directed at racial or ethnic minorities and in some reports the perpetrators indicated support for President-elect Donald Trump.
Most recently, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab was harassed in the 23rd Street subway station by three men who allegedly called her a terrorist, chanted "Donald Trump" to her and told her to get out of the country, officials said.
And in the Mineola village of Long Island, police were investigating after someone spray-painted a red swastika along with the words "Make America White Again" on a Washington Avenue home last Wednesday, along with racist remarks against African American and Middle Eastern people. Similar words were spray painted on a sidewalk on Elm Place. 
During a "60 Minutes" interview in November, Trump looked at the camera and said that any supporters of his who are harassing people or destroying property should "stop it."
Shortly after the election, Cuomo announced a hotline for New Yorkers to report instances of discrimination.
Anyone who wants to report an instance of bias or discrimination can call 888-392-3644 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. New Yorkers who want to report a crime or fear their safety should still call 911.



Sunday, December 4, 2016

Halimo Hassen ’17 Named a Schwarzman Scholar

The sociology major will study for a year at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Halimo Hassen
Halimo Hassen ’17 plans to complete a master’s degree in international affairs, concentrating on public policy. “I’m hoping the scholarship will serve as an experience that will allow me to continue to give back throughout my life,” she says. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Halimo Hassen ’17, a sociology major from Atlanta, Ga., has been named a Schwarzman Scholar—one of 129 top students from around the world who next year will participate in a one-year master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Hassen will be Dartmouth’s third representative to the Schwarzman program, following in the footsteps of Jordyn Turner ’16 and Jacob Gaba ’16, who are members of the program’s inaugural class this year.

“It’s a testament to Dartmouth’s global reach that our students have been represented in the Schwarzman’s first two classes,” says Provost Carolyn Dever. “Halimo is a remarkable student with a passion for public service. That she has been recognized on this international stage should make the entire Dartmouth community proud.”

Founded by Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman, CEO, and co-founder of the global investment firm Blackstone, the Schwarzman Scholars program seeks prepare a new generation of international leaders “to respond to the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century,” according to the program’s website.

“I was exploring graduate fellowships and the Schwarzman scholarship seemed new, innovative, and placed an emphasis on leadership,” says Hassen. “It’s an opportunity to study in a different country for a year, learn about China as a major world power, and learn a new language in a completely different environment in the process.”

Through the program, Hassen plans to complete a master’s degree in international affairs, concentrating on public policy. “I’m hoping the scholarship will serve as an experience that will allow me to continue to give back throughout my life,” she says.

She was also drawn to the opportunity to shape a new program. “The first few cohorts will define the future of the scholarship, and I wanted to be a part of that,” she says.

At Dartmouth, Hassen—the daughter of Somali and Ethiopian refugees and a first-generation college student—has mentored fellow students through the First Year Student Enrichment Program (FYSEP).

FYSEP director Jay Davis ’90 says, “From the moment I first met Halimo during FYSEP’s pre-orientation program, it was clear that she brings passion, commitment, and compassion to all that she does,” he says. “I have known few students who can match her dedication to making others’ lives better.”

Through her major, she has conducted research on the impact of globalization on Somalia after that country’s civil war and has studied how increasing diversity in work teams can improve business outcomes.

“In the classroom, I appreciated Halimo’s ability to ask pressing and difficult questions while at the same time being lighthearted and genuine with her peers,” says Janice McCabe, an associate professor of sociology, with whom Hassen took two courses, “Sociology of Gender” and “Education and Inequality.” “It was clear that she was interested in exploring inequality from a sociological lens and that she was committed to social justice on campus and globally.”

Hassen has worked as a student manager at the Collis Student Center, and served as secretary and co-director of CoFIRED, the Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality, and DREAMers—a group that received a Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award in 2014 during her tenure. 

She completed the Harvard Summer Ventures in Management program and participated in the Jumpstart Advisory Group, a program that helps women and members of minority groups build business leadership skills.

She has received scholarships from the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, the GE Reagan Foundation, Coca-Cola, the Horatio Alger Association, and the Ron Brown CAPtain program, and received a Capital One Case Competition prize.

Hassen’s siblings Hassan Hassen ’18 and Ridwan Hassen ’15 have also studied at Dartmouth; Ridwan was named a Rhodes Scholar in 2015. “I am very thankful to my family and my close friends,” Halimo Hassen says. “They have been a tremendous support system and have challenged me to excel in every possible way.”

“Throughout my time in college, I’ve started initiatives that have assisted low-income, high-achieving high school students in the college admissions process,” she says. “In the future, I hope to expand these initiatives to a broader scale and help to work towards ameliorating educational disparities.”

Of those younger students, Hassen says, “I hope to inspire them to dream big and do more.”

About Schwarzman Scholars:

Founded in 2015, Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling, and developing a better understanding of China.

For information about applying for Schwarzman Scholarships and other programs, and to see a list of past recipients, visit Dartmouth’s National Scholarships/Fellowships website.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Center for Constitutional Rights Says President Lacks Authority to Detain Prisoner

November 30, 2016, Washington – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a lawsuit challenging the ongoing detention of Guantánamo prisoner Guled Hassan Duran, a 43-year old Somali citizen. Duran was captured in Djibouti and rendered to the CIA in March 2004, according to the declassified executive summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. He was transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006, where he has since been held without charge. The lawsuit challenges the legality of his continuing indefinite detention.
“In the 12 years that Mr. Duran has been held in U.S. custody, neither President Bush nor Obama was willing to charge him with a crime, and yet the government claims the authority to continue imprisoning Mr. Duran indefinitely – perhaps for the rest of his life,” said CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy. “That is an absurd distortion of the constitution and the laws of war. The government will now – finally - have to explain how and why Mr. Duran ended up at Guantánamo, and why he remains there over a decade later.”
Attorneys argue that, whatever the government’s initial justification for detaining Mr. Duran in 2006, that justification has since unraveled. Among other reasons, attorneys point to Mr. Duran’s capture far from the Afghan theater of war in Djibouti, the declared end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, and the reality that any conflict that may persist with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or successor franchise groups bears no resemblance to the conflict in which the government claims Mr. Duran was captured in 2004. While they do not concede that his detention was ever lawful, attorneys argue that, now, surely, any legitimate reason to detain Mr. Duran has expired under the laws of war.
In January 2010, President Obama’s Guantánamo Task Force designated Mr. Duran for continuing indefinite detention. In August 2016, Mr. Duran appeared before the Periodic Review Board (PRB), which ultimately declined to approve him for release from Guantánamo. The Center for Constitutional Rights criticized the process, noting that he appeared before the PRB without counsel and that the board routinely relies on evidence obtained through torture in making its determination.
For more information and to read today’s filing, visit CCR’s case page.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for nearly 15 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that nearly all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.