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Monday, June 30, 2014

The City That Offers Sharia-Compliant Loans to Muslim Business Owners -

The City That Offers Sharia-Compliant Loans to Muslim Business Owners -

Inside the Karmel Square shopping mall in southwest Minneapolis, women wearing headscarves paint customers' feet with henna. Others sell beaded caftans in narrow stalls. On the first floor, shopkeepers kneel toward Mecca to pray.
Somali entrepreneurs in the neighborhood have transformed an abandoned machinery warehouse into this bustling indoor bazaar. Karmel Square is one of several commercial districts they've revived in recent years with support from an unexpected ally: the city.
Since 2006, Minneapolis has loaned more than $1 million to Muslim business owners through a program that complies with sharia law, which prohibits Muslims from paying or earning interest in a financial transaction. The program, which is operated in partnership with the African Development Center, makes Minneapolis the only city in the country to offer Islamic financing at a time when states are trying to ban sharia from the courts. "Minneapolis is a very welcoming city," says Kristin Guild, the city's business development manager. "Because [Somali immigrants] wear headscarves, they are visible as entrepreneurs and people see that they are setting up businesses in our town and creating jobs."
Minnesota is home to the country's largest Somali community, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim. An estimated 32,000 people of Somali ancestry live in the state, and about one-third of them live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, according to the latest census figures.
In the past 10 years, North African immigrants have opened teashops, pharmacies, and child-care centers in southwest Minneapolis storefronts that were once boarded up. But many of these entrepreneurs struggled to grow their businesses because Islamic law forbids Muslims from earning or paying interest, known as riba. So they couldn't take out loans or participate in the city's low-interest financing program for small businesses.
"We had to be creative to meet the demand," says Nasibu Sareva, executive director of the nonprofit African Development Center, which brought the idea of creating an Islamic financing program to the city in early 2006. City leaders were unaware of the sharia restriction, but agreed to the plan. Less than a year later, the city's community and economic development department launched the sharia-compliant Alternative Financing Program.
This is how it works: A barber who needs new chairs for his shop goes to the African Development Center or another nonprofit lender that has partnered with the city. The lending partner buys the chairs, splitting the cost with the city, and then resells the chairs to the barber at a 2 percent profit. The barber pays it off in monthly installments. This is called a Murabaha sale.
The first person to participate in the city's program was Shukri Gedi, a 50-year-old woman from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Gedi had opened Global Clothing and Accessories in the Karmel Mall in 2004 with money from her relatives. She sold headscarves, caftans, and long black robes from her stall in the bazaar.
But when she needed money to import more products, Gedi refused to take out a traditional loan. "We feel it's haram [forbidden], and that brings a lot of stress," says Gedi, who learned about the riba-free financing through the African Development Center.
Gedi says the initial $20,000 loan and a subsequent $25,000 loan helped her keep her store open during the recession. Income from the business has helped put two sons through college, she says. "It feels good to be able to support them with school," says Gedi, who has about $1,000 left to pay off on her loans.
Since launching the program, Minneapolis has made 64 loans worth a total of $1.2 million. It has also partnered with several other nonprofits in the area. Last year, one woman used $40,000 to renovate the building for a new child care center. Another woman who makes gourmet hot sauces got $40,000 for marketing materials and new equipment.
Islamic financing is a relatively new concept in the United States. Only a handful of banks and financial companies provide mortgages and loans that abide by sharia law. The Neighborhood Development Center in St. Paul created the first nonprofit model of riba-free financing in 2001 after Somali entrepreneurs voiced their concerns. It was immediately lambasted on right-wing radio. "They utterly missed the point, but I was a little bit nervous," says Mihailo Temali, the center's CEO. "We were the first in the nation."
More recently, media coverage of a Minnesota homeownership program that provided Islamic financing options prompted then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty to shut it down.
Minneapolis business development staffers point out that their program is open to anyone, even non-Muslims. Immigrants from Morocco, Ethiopia, and other North African countries have brought commerce back to long-neglected neighborhoods, like Lake Street in Lyndale. Once a commercial corridor in the early 1900s, shops on Lake Street began closing as consumers moved to the suburbs.
With the help of the city's program, more than 20 businesses are open again on Lake Street. "I think this will spread," says Temali. "One of the most outstanding features of the United States is its long history of incorporating immigrants into the economy instead of excluding them."

At least two killed in Somali market bomb blast - government official | News by Country | Reuters

At least two killed in Somali market bomb blast - government official | News by Country | Reuters

At least two people were killed and seven wounded when a bomb ripped through a busy market in the Somali capital on Monday, a government official said.
It is not clear who carried out the attack but in the past similar attacks in Mogadishu have been claimed by al Shabaab militants, who have vowed to wage a series of attacks during Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month which started on Sunday.
Islamist al Shabaab gunmen shot dead three people on Sunday and said the killings were just the start of the group's Ramadan campaign."It was a bomb they planted in a small room in the market that the local government staff used as they collected tax," Ahmed Hassan, the district commissioner of Kaaraan district, told reporters.The government and African Union peacekeepers have stepped up security to try to prevent assaults during Ramadan by al Shabaab, which has waged a seven-year campaign to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law.In the past year or so, al Shabaab has killed dozens of people in guerrilla-style assaults in Mogadishu, on U.N. offices, the presidential compound, parliament and the courts. (Additional reporting by Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by George Obulutsa and Alison Williams)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

America on Somalia’s side |

America on Somalia’s side |

Lately, major news headlines on Somalia have diminished the hope for relief of the human suffering in Somalia. Some of these news headlines include the disastrous political, security, and humanitarian consequences of two yearlong planned military offensive of African Union forces (AMISOM) against three Al Shabab stronghold cities (Elbur, Qoryoley, and Huddur), the UN global warning about children facing “starvation and death” and 2 million more in “food insecurity,” deadly violence instigated by the hysteria of clan federalism (land ownership) in Kismaio, Belet Hawo, Marka, Baidoa, and in Khatumo regions ( Sool and Sanaag) disputed by the ethnic enclaves of Puntland and Somaliland, the political infighting among Somali leaders, the surreal talk about 2016 constitutional referendum and national political election, the surprise resignation of the Special Representative and Head of AU Mission for Somalia Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the “extremely alarming” outbreak of measles declared by WHO and UNICEF, the crackdown and forced repatriation of Somali refugees in Kenya, and the provocative declarations of Ethiopia and Kenya leaders who insist that their forces will not leave Somalia as long as they are not satisfied with the political and security situation in Somalia.
The ongoing level of humanitarian disaster belies the shameful claims and fanfares of progress touted by donors’ officials and Somali leaders for justifying the financial resources dispensed or looted on behalf of Somalia. Foreign officials and Somali leaders would like to brag about ceremonies, travels, meetings, small and expensive projects that ceased to function like Mogadishu solar street lighting and market places, while in the western democracies the focus is on problems and shortfalls for accountability and actions. In Somalia, institutions are not earning credibility.
In May, a coalition of Aid organizations warned the world that Somalia faces a humanitarian crisis with 50,000 severely malnourished children at death’s door, while 2.9 million persons are at risk of hunger.Immediately, the UN appealed for 60 million dollars for emergency food assistance to avert a famine similar to one experienced in 2011 which killed more than 250 thousand people.
These few selected news headlines provide partial explanation of the multiple external and domestic self-reinforcing problems afflicting Somalia. After seven years of international and local efforts on security, constitution, and political process, Somalia has yet to be stabilized, integrated, and governed by central and local authorities with clear hierarchical jurisdictions.
In the midst of these distressing news headlines, the Under Secretary of US State Department for Political Affairs, Wendy R. Sherman delivered speech on a US policy in Somalia on June 3, 2014, at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. The speech did not bother to acknowledge that Somalia is also member of the Arab region (Middle East).
In a positive light, the United States proclaimed to be on Somalia’s side for support in governance, security, and development goals. However, the speech contained different messages that could muddle its understanding, interpretation, and implementation.

Central Message

The speech emphasized the US priority interest of an international readiness for counter-terrorism operations for which president Obama requested $ 5 billion fund that will be used to build the security capacity of international allies. One of the major reasons mentioned for the renewed US involvement in Somalia is to have a secure and united Somalia that will confront the forces of extremism and terror (Al Shabab). Therefore, Somalia has to have a central government able to combat terrorism, piracy, illicit trafficking, and radicalism. Unfortunately, IGAD, EU, and UN are implementing policies which divide Somalia into North and South and South into clan enclaves mired into clan disputes.

Message of compassion and hope

The speech recognized the long suffering of the Somali people for colonization, cold war, civil war, and natural disasters which impeded them to establish shared roots in Somalia. The US government wishes that Somalis have a home where they can live with dignity, a sense of ownership, and respect of each other. It offers to help Somalis to realize the unfulfilled promise from independence. This compassionate commitment uplifts the Somali spirit and augurs a new dawn for the Somali-American relation.
The speech recalled the unfolding humanitarian crisis by stating that an estimated 3 million Somali citizens lack secure supplies of food and 860,000 are in need of emergency help. The US is major contributor to the World Food Assistance for Somalia.

Message of generous Support

Since the diplomatic recognition in January 2013, the US Government provided $ 485 million to the Federal Government for security and recovery purposes. This figure is separate from the $ 500 million paid to African forces fighting in Somalia.
However, the speech makes clear that the lack of genuine consensus on a credible national government in Mogadishu is a major obstacle to substantial international support. This signals a rethinking of US Government about the federal government. As explained in the book, “Hard Choices,” of former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Government spearheaded the end of transition and beginning of permanent government administration. As a solution for change, the United States believes that “the Somalis have to decide whether they want to exist as disparate clans isolated from the world and with one and another or as united country will all the attributes, benefits, and responsibilities that such unity brings.” This existential challenge calls for a quick and an unambiguous response from the Somali people.

Message for internal strife and foreign intervention

On January 3, 2013, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was unequivocal about the end of the transition and the dual track policy in Somalia. But, the new US policy seems to extend the transition and maintain the dual track policy in place on the basis of the following remarks:
1. Somalia now has an interim parliament, a president, and a prime minister, and roadmap calling for a  permanent constitution and national elections.
2. The united states will remain actively engaged with both national and regional leaders to strengthen institutions and promote cooperation on every level.”
3. In the Q&A session, Under Secretary Sherman said that since terror is not about location, the response has to be a regional approach.
These statements convey conflict-provoking message. Regional Neighbors could interpret them as a continuation of the transitional status and of dual track policy, and a legitimate excuse for direct intervention and indefinite occupation as argued by the Government of Kenya. In reaction, liberation war, regional fragmentation, and clan disputes could continue and gain support.
The neighbors of Somalia-Ethiopia and Kenya- lack the capacity, interests, and values to accomplish the interconnected key elements of US policy in Somalia: rule-based security, democratic governance, and socio-economic development. As a strategic policy, they took advantage of the political and social vulnerabilities of Somalia and established IGAD controlled political framework founded on an institutionalized foreign driven political and security process. The focus of IGAD-UN led process is to promote political hostility and clan federalism which hinder Somalia’s unity, stability, and statehood.
If the provisional constitution failed to promote national unity, for sure, Jubbaland Agreement between federal government and clan militia Raskamboni with Ethiopia as a guarantor cannot be a model for internal unity. Somalia is not only cursed by geography but also by history and clan culture.
If the United States ignores to dissociate itself from the inherent risks in the biased premises on which IGAD-UN led political framework is built upon, the US policy in Somalia could face setbacks and credibility problems. The United States cannot support clan federalism and factionalism on one hand and constitutional democracy, citizenship, and human rights on the other hand.

Message of criticism

The speech did not express enthusiasm for the federal government or any other authorities. The Under Secretary repeated all the problems of crime, corruption, lack of transparency and accountability, insufficient political inclusion and local participation blamed to the federal government. Nevertheless, President Obama decided to propose the first US Ambassador as a sign of commitment to Somalia and not to the federal government. The process may take some time for different reasons.
As it is clear from the speech, the Somali government does not have the green light and necessary prerequisites to appoint an Ambassador to the United States but it could form a team within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who will engage with the representatives of the US government on wide ranging issues of statebuilding. The cooperation with the United States requires extensive preparations, knowledge, sensitivity, and dedicated attention.

Personal observations

The speech comes at a time when Kenya, Ethiopia, and UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) headed by Ambassador Nicholas Kay took full control of the political and security affairs of Somalia. The ability of the federal government to lead the country on the basis of the letter and spirit of the constitution has dramatically eroded. It became embroiled in political deception, willy-nilly decisions, and financial mismanagement that undermined its domestic and foreign credibility.
The truth is that the pivotal test for Somalia is not only an internal one, but it is also an external one since the security and politics of Somalia have been globalized. There is correlation between federal government’s ineptness and corruption and external actors’ role and policies. This is not a blame shifting but reflects the reality.
Mogadishu Airport and Jazeera area have become a zone off for Nairobi Beach, makeshift offices, bases, and hotels where diplomats and international community stay and meet Somali leaders including the President during their visits to Mogadishu. The lack of trusted security beyond Mogadishu Airport is another irrefutable testament to the failure of the international efforts in Somalia. Former Governor of Benadir Region and Mayor of Mogadishu Mohamud Ahmed Nur a.k.a. Tarzan has conceded the total absence of security foundations in Mogadishu districts and many sources indicate that Mogadishu is still confidently controlled by Al Shabab operatives.
The United States as the last superpower and guarantor of the international order and stability should do more to help Somalia to become a valuable member of the international community. Somalia needs honest partnership to regain the characteristics and credibility of sovereign State. For their part, the leadership elite of Somalia will commit a historical dereliction of responsibility if they let pass the opportunity of bringing the people of Somalia together as a nation for ending the decades long of suffering and political turmoil.

Illegal cheetah trade: Terrorists earning millions | World | News | Daily Express

Illegal cheetah trade: Terrorists earning millions | World | News | Daily Express

An estimated 300 cubs are stolen every year across Ethiopia and Somalia, where they are an endangered species, and taken to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Cubs can fetch up to £6,000 and there are fears some of the money is filtered into armed militia groups such as the Somali jihadist group Al Shabaab.
The Born Free Foundation’s chief executive Will Travers said: “We are talking about a trade that is already worth a million pounds and a ­million pounds can buy you an awful lot of armaments to help your reign of ­terror wherever you want to do it.”
Born Free campaigners in ­Ethiopia believe farmers poach cheetah cubs then sell them on to traders heading for Somalia for just five to 20 dollars each.
The cubs are driven across the border and smuggled on to cargo ships bound for Yemen before being taken to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
However, there is some hope for the endangered animals. Some have been rescued and taken to the Born Free Ensessakotteh Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre near Addis Ababa.
It is now caring for nine cheetahs, one adult and eight adolescents. Four were rescued from Ethiopia while the other five were rescued from over the border in Somalia.
Mr Travers said: “Up until recently, the authorities in Ethiopia had nowhere to put the cheetah cubs when they were rescued but now they have our centre, which has been jointly set up with the ­government.”
There is a craze among Arab businessmen for keeping cheetahs in the grounds of their sprawling mansions.
Mr Travers called this horrendous abuse which leads some ­species towards extinction.

Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab has 'regional agenda' beyond Somalia: | Business Standard News

Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab has 'regional agenda' beyond Somalia: | Business Standard News

Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants have the "capability and intent" to spread their attacks beyond their strongholds in Somalia, a UN special representative warned today, calling for greater regional cooperation to combat the threat.

"The Shebab is an organisation that has a regional agenda. The very top leadership of the organisation see themselves as pursuing something above and beyond just a Somalia national agenda," said Nick Kay, the UN's special representative in Somalia.

"It has had the capability and intent to carry out attacks across the region for some time," Nick said, adding that this intent is "stronger now".

The Shebab has recently stepped up attacks against countries that contribute to the 22,000-strong, UN-backed African Union force deployed against them in Somalia since 2007.

Neighbouring has been a particular focus of Shebab violence, most notably with the attack on the Westgate shopping mall last September in which at least 67 people were killed.

The group also claimed responsibility for two raids earlier this month in a Kenyan tourist area which killed around 60 people.

On Thursday, Shebab gunmen had attacked an African Union military base in central Somalia dressed in stolen government army uniforms, killing at least two soldiers from Djibouti, the AU said.

"It does require the countries of the region, with the support of the international community, to be much more joined up in their approach," Kay said today, calling for greater information-sharing and stronger border controls.

"It is very, very important that Somalia is stabilised and that the Somali people enjoy a government that is truly accountable to them and truly working in their interests," he added.

Somalia is due to put in place a new federal constitution in 2015 and hold elections in 2016, although the security situation could delay progress.

Chased out of Mogadishu in mid-2011, the Shebab have also abandoned key bastions in the country's border areas but retain control over vast swathes of Somalia's rural hinterland from which they carry out regular guerrilla attacks against government institutions and international forces.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

17 Indicted in NY International Drug Ring Case - ABC News

17 Indicted in NY International Drug Ring Case - ABC News

An international drug ring flooded parts of New York, Massachusetts and Ohio with several tons of a narcotic known as khat that came from Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia, authorities said Friday in announcing criminal charges against 17 defendants.
The khat, a plant containing controlled substances similar to amphetamines, was shipped to the United States through the United Kingdom, China, Holland and Belgium, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton.
"Khat is a dangerous and illegal drug with worldwide reach," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Trafficking often funds other criminal activity. Traffickers who threaten our communities and inflict untold harm on countless families will be brought to justice."
The suspects were facing arraignment in a 215-count indictment that was unsealed in Brooklyn's state Supreme Court. The suspects lived in New York City and Rochester, New York; Everett, Massachusetts; and Blaine, Minnesota. One suspect was identified as a resident of England. Prosecutors say the ring laundered proceeds in Minnesota and wired the money to locations in Dubai and England.
The arrests follow a nearly year-long investigation, authorities said.
Khat is popular in parts of the Middle East and Africa, but it's classified as a dangerous narcotic in the United States. Users chew the leaf, producing a mild high. Prosecutors said that among its active ingredients are cathinone and cathine, which are classified as controlled substances.
Investigators said surveillance video showed some of those involved hiding large quantities of khat in various buildings. They would then put the khat in approximately 25-pound boxes for redistribution.

Ramadan message for 2014 for Muslims and followers of Islam : Wisdom from Quran and Hadith :

Ramadan message for 2014 for Muslims and followers of Islam :

The time for Ramadan is here again, so once more we will be actively involved in Ibadat, or acts of devotion, including fasting, prayers, Taraweeh, late night prayers, Quran recitation, and other forms of worship. However, before we become too engaged in our Ibadat, let’s remember our larger goals for this month so that we can make the most of the coming days and weeks. Therefore, as part of our Ibadat and obedience to Allah this Ramadan, let us seek to improve our relationship with Allah by asking for His forgiveness and blessing, getting a broader perspective on doing good, striving to excel in all good acts, and making lasting changes in our inner and outer lives.
 islam on A Ramadan Message: A Time for Growth in Love, Devotion and Lasting Change

Drawing Nearer to Allah

First and foremost to remember as we engage in the various Ibadat during Ramadan is that these acts of devotion offer us the opportunity to get closer to Allah and to increase the love we have for Him in our hearts. As Muslims, our faith requires that our love for Allah and his Prophet (Sallalahu alaihi wasallam – May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) supersedes any love we have for any other object or creation. Many scholars agree on the basis of sound ahadith that Allah creates the individual—his soul and his heart—in such a way that his natural tendency is to love Allah. However, as a person’s heart is gradually intruded upon by doubts, desires, and temptations, that love has to be rekindled from time to time through both faith and knowledge.
Ramadan provides us with the perfect opportunity to increase the love we have in our hearts for Allah by devoting this period to perfecting our Ibadat. For example, as-salat (prayer) is one of the key Ibadat we will engage in during Ramadan, so during this time, we can focus on increasing the quality and khushu of our prayers. For those new to Islam, “khushu” refers to the soft, silent, humble, devoted state of the heart in prayer as it stands or bows before Allah. We can improve this state during that Ibadah by perfectly focusing our hearts and minds on our prayerful recitations and on Allah.
The Prophet (SAW) said:
“When one of you stands in prayer, he is conversing with his Lord, so let one of you know what he is saying to his Lord and do not raise your voices above one another in reciting when praying.”
Narrated by Ahmad (4928) and classed as saheeh by Shu’ayb al-Arna’oot in Tahqeeq al-Musnad
The importance of prayer is also evident from this hadith, in which Abu Hurairah quoted the Prophet (SAW) as saying:
“Whoever goes to the mosque in the morning and evening, Allah will prepare for him an honorable place in Paradise every time he goes and comes.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 631, and Muslim, 669
We should use the same principle when engaging in other Ibadat such as reciting the Quran, performing dhikr (the remembrance of Allah), giving charity, and other devotions. Let’s make sure, therefore, that our intentions when performing Ibadat are solely for the purpose of pleasing Allah and that we devote our worshipful efforts to increasing our love for Him in our hearts.

Broaden the scope of your good deeds

In Islam, the practice of good deeds extends beyond the realm of such Ibadat as prayer and fasting. Unfortunately, for many devout Muslims, the broader definition of good deeds is often lost. Many Muslims are quite steadfast in prayer and fasting, but they tend to be less committed to other moral standards stressed by both Allah and His Prophet (SAW). Ramadan provides us with an excellent opportunity to broaden our horizons when doing good deeds, as we have repeatedly learned from both the Quran and the hadith but rarely practice in our lives.
Such opportunities include:
  • Visiting the sick
  • Repairing family relationships and other personal ties
  • Being kind and respectful to our spouses
  • Paying our respects at funerals
  • Helping others in their time of need
  • Other acts of kindness and devotion
In another hadith quoted in Sahih Muslim, Abu Huraira narrates that the Prophet (SAW) said:
“Who began this day fasting?” Abu Bakr said: “I did.”
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Who participated in a funeral procession today?” Abu Bakr said: “I did.” The Prophet (SAW) said: “Who fed a needy person today?” Abu Bakr said: “I did.” The Prophet (SAW) said: “Who visited a sick person today?” Abu Bakr said: “I did.” Then, the Prophet (SAW) said: “These things cannot all meet in a single person but that they will enter Paradise.”
Doing such good deeds during Ramadan could earn us even greater rewards. However, let’s make certain that whenever we perform any good deeds or charity, we don’t boast about them by telling other people. Good actions are solely for the purpose of pleasing Allah, so whatever we do should be between Allah and us. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (RA) related Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying:
“… one who keeps reminding people of what he has given, will not enter Paradise.” (Tirmidhi)

Raise your standard for doing good

Islam encourages us to constantly increase our levels of doing good. Efforts of this type, which we would not normally do except for Ramadan, help us to improve even further. We know that even the behavior of the Prophet (SAW) became better during Ramadan. Many ahadith tell us that the Prophet (SAW) was the most generous person, and he was even more generous during Ramadan. During that time, he would give more in charity and treat people even more kindly than usual. He would also devote more time to reading the Quran, praying, reciting dhikr, and spending time in I’tikaaf (retreat).
Imam Ahmad remarked:
“And nothing he was asked for but he would give it.”
Al-Bayhaqi, too, reported that ‘Aaishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said:
“When Ramadan would start, the Prophet (SAW) would release all prisoners of war and fulfill the need of every person who would ask him for something.”
In the light of that guidance and motivated by Allah’s promise to reward us more during this month, we should push ourselves to increase the range and quality of good deeds in our lives.

Commit to permanent change

With all its blessings and opportunities, Ramadan shifts us into high gear for increasing our obedience to Allah and seeking His pleasure. Yet, though many of us start this period with enthusiasm, our usual habits often prevent us from achieving permanent change. So as we start the month of Ramadan, let’s dedicate ourselves to real, lasting change—to increasing our heartfelt love for Allah and reflecting that love in our daily actions. We can do this best by leaving behind what He dislikes and wholeheartedly embracing the good, not only during Ramadan but throughout the entire year and, even better, throughout our entire lives. To encourage sustained change, we must allow the seed of sincere intention—the gift from Allah of our true nature—to grow in our hearts and guide our behavior. In doing so, we will notice that Allah will lighten things for us and elevate our status in this life and the next.
Remember the Hadith Quudsi, which says:
“… if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.
Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, Hadith No. 502
Since permanent change requires breaking through old habits and mental barriers, let’s ponder what our pious salaf tell us about the kind of effort needed to effect a lasting change:
  • Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir said: “I struggled against my own self for forty years until it became right.”
  • Thaabit al-Banaani said: “I struggled for twenty years to make myself pray qiyaam al-layl, and I enjoyed it (qiyaam al-layl) for (the next) twenty years.”
  • ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez said: “The best of deeds are those which we force ourselves to do.”
  • ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Mubaarak said: “The souls of righteous people in the past used to push them to do good deeds, but our souls do not do what we want them to do except by force, so we have to force them.”
  • Qutaadah said: “O son of Adam, if you do not want to do any good except when you have the energy for it, then your nature is more inclined towards boredom and laziness. The true believer is the one who pushes himself.”
Sometimes doing good may involve a lot of patience, so let’s remember that Allah rewards us according to the effort we expend. The Prophet (SAW) said:
“Ahead of you there lie days of patience, during which being patient will be like grasping a hot coal. The one who does good deeds then will have a reward like that of fifty men who do such deeds.”
Narrated by Abu Dawood (4341); also al-Tirmidhi (3085), who said it was a hasan hadith, though it was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (494)
In conclusion, as we hope and pray for Allah’s mercy during this time of Ramadan, let us all focus on the lasting transformation of our hearts and souls. Let us shed what is impure and untrue while strengthening the good and the true so that the change that follows can carry us forward through our remaining days and years, both on this earth and in the hereafter.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Holy Month of Ramadan will start in most Muslim country on Sunday, June 29, 2014

The holy month of Ramadan will start on Sunday in most Arab countries. The noon was not sighted in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Egypt, where they announced that the Ramadan would start on Sunday.
Like every year, the non-sighting of the moon in most Arab countries will create confusion among Muslim living in Europe and North America, especially as the Fiqh Council of North America, which bases its decision on astronomical calculations, announced that first day of Ramadan of this year is Saturday 28 June.
“The Fiqh Council of North America recognizes astronomical calculation as an acceptable Shar’i method for determining the beginning of Lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal. FCNA uses Makkah al-Mukarrama as a conventional point and takes the position that the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and moon must set after sunset in Makkah,” the FCNA said in a release.
The calculations of the Islamic calendar are based on the lunar calendar, which causes the Islamic months to move in the Gregorian calendar approximately 11 days every year. The beginning of Islamic months may also vary from one country to another depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not.
On this happy occasion, the staff of Morocco World News is delighted and joyful to wish all our readers, as well as all Muslims all over the world a happy and blessed Ramadan. May the Almighty bless all of us with mercy, tranquility, forgiveness, good health and longevity. We pray to God that this month of Ramadan will bring with it peace and happiness, repentance and piety and ease the pain and sufferings of the weak and the needy.
Ramadan Kareem to you all. May God’s blessing be with you.

Ramadan 2014: Top 10 Quotes and Five Texts to Share with Family and Friends

Ramadan 2014: During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset with no food or water.
Muslims around the world will be observing Ramadan, the first day of the Islamic holy month of the same name, this weekend.
In 2014, Ramadan is expected to begin on Saturday, 28 June, in the United Kingdom.
Throughout the next 30 days, adults will be fasting and praying from sunrise to sunset, and abstain from smoking and sex. The breaking of the fast at dusk is known as Iftaar and begins by eating dates.
However, the practice may vary slightly among Muslims from different regions. The exceptions are for pregnant women, those who are ill or travelling, and for the physically weak.
The observation of Ramadan month marks the anniversary of the Quran being revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. It is observed annually after the sighting of the new moon and lasts for 30 days until the next new moon appears.
The observance is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam along with belief, worship, charitable donation and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Ramadan concludes with Eid ul-Fitr, when morning prayers are followed by feasting and celebrations.
Quotes to Share for Ramdan:
·         Ramadan is the month whose beginning is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose end is freedom from fire.

·         Whoever prays at night in Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.

·         Whosoever recites only one 'Ayat' in Holy Ramadan, he will be awarded as if he had recited the full Qur'an in other months.

·         When the Ramadan month starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and devils are tied up.

·         It was the Ramadan month, when Quran was sent down to earth as a gift to the entire mankind, giving us guidance to live our life and know the difference between right and wrong.

·         Ramadan month is the month to feel hunger, hunger the poor people face every day and share the sorrow of sick people, to review our lives and get closer to Allah.

·         Even if all the trees on earth were pens, and the ocean inks, with seven more oceans added to it, the words of Allah would not be exhausted: for Allah is infinite in power and wisdom.

·         Ramadan is the month to fast, pray, read Quran and do charity and in return receive rich rewards from Allah.

·         If you open your heart and ask honestly from Allah, he is not going to ignore you, but he will focus on you to make you happy.

·         Whoever Allah wishes to show goodness, he gives him understanding of the religion.

SMS or Messages to Share with Your Family and Friends

·         May the Ramadan bring you peace and prosperity, good health and wealth, and brighten your life forever.

·         R ead in abudndance the Holy Quran
A bstain from food, drink and cohabitation
M aintain your nightly trips to Masjid for Taraweeh
A bsolve yourself from Hellfire through seeking forgiveness
D eeds of good, never too many to have
A ttempt to find and utilise the Night of Power in the odd nights of the last 10
N ever return to the sins you have turned your back on in this month

·         This holy month of the Quran,
Pray that you be blessed and freed from the clutches of Satan,
Ask Allah for forgiveness and do good deeds

·         A beautiful greeting wishing that your family receive bountiful blessing and peace throughout the Ramadan Month.

·         The holy month starts when the crescent New moon is visible, May this Ramadan month brings you bountiful joy and happiness and helps you gain rich rewards on Judgment Day.

·         Ramadan month unites everyone, its teachings gives us happiness and gives satisfaction when we help others, and rewards which we receive are bountiful, Ramadan Mubarak.

Young Brothers From Somalia Learn About The Joys Of Baseball « CBS Pittsburgh

Young Brothers From Somalia Learn About The Joys Of Baseball « CBS Pittsburgh

It may seem like the whole world is caught up in soccer and the World Cup right now, but it’s baseball that’s captured the fancy of a couple of boys from Somalia – refugees who are living here in Pittsburgh.

All they had to do was let it be known they wouldn’t mind giving baseball a try.

Ibrahim Mugasa, 9, and his 10-year-old brother, Ramadhani, are refugees now living in Lawrenceville

When their tutor at a Pitt program for refugees, called “Keep It Real,” found out they were interested in playing ball, he got the North Hills Athletic Association (NHAA) to let them learn by playing in an instructional league this summer.

“I think they’re just happy to be part of the team, and to be playing a sport together, and to have that experience that all kids like to have,” said Louie Al-Hashami, the boys’ tutor.

“At their first practice, they were pretty timid; but now, when I dropped them off for their last game, they were running right with their teammates, really enthusiastic,” added tutor John Dodderidge.

The league says it’s been a great experiment. The boys took to their teammates and their teammates took to them. They also caught onto the game quickly.

They’ve certainly got rule number one down: “Keep your eye on the ball.”

“It gives me the chills because I was pretty excited to take on the task of making sure they develop the right way,” said John Leuch, the boys’ coach. “And when we first saw them, they couldn’t really catch or throw or didn’t have the proper mechanics, and after the second or third practice, it was like they’d been playing baseball for four years.”

“This is the first time we’ve ever gotten a chance to do something like this and it just made the whole community feel good,” Dean Bonenberger, the president of the NHAA, said.

The NHAA says it now hopes to introduce more kids from the “Keep It Real” refugee tutoring program at Pitt to the joys of baseball.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rooney Mara to star in A House In The Sky | News | Screen

Rooney Mara to star in A House In The Sky | News | Screen

The memoir A House In The Sky will be developed as a starring vehicle for Mara, who will also serve as a producer alongside Annapurna’s Megan Ellison, with whom she optioned the rights.
Annapurna’s Chelsea Barnard will serve as the executive overseeing the day-to-day development and production.
A House In The Sky recounts the story of Amanda Lindhout, who was kidnapped in Somalia by a terrorist group and held captive for 15 months.
ICM Partners represents the book’s co-authors Lindhout and Sarah Corbett and negotiated the sale of the novel with Annapurna’s Chris Corabi and Vanessa Fung.
WME and Management 360 represent Mara.
  • Dermot Mulroney will star in Insidious: Chapter 3 for Blumhouse Productions. Focus Features will distribute the horror film in the US on April 3, 2015. eOne distributes directly in the UK, Canada and Spain and Sony holds remaining territories.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Oregon's would-be Christmas festival bomber denied new trial | News by Country | Reuters

Oregon's would-be Christmas festival bomber denied new trial | News by Country | Reuters

A Somali-American man convicted of trying to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon was denied a new trial on Tuesday by a federal judge who rejected the defendant's claims that his constitutional rights were violated by warrantless surveillance.
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen and former Oregon State University student, faces a possible life prison term for his conviction last year on a single charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
No date has been set for sentencing.Mohamud was arrested shortly after attempting to use his mobile phone to remotely detonate an artificial car bomb planted near a Portland square that was crowded with thousands of people attending a ceremony the day after Thanksgiving in 2010.No one was hurt, and authorities say the public was never in actual danger.During a three-week trial in federal court, defense attorneys argued that overzealous law enforcement officers posing as al Qaeda militants invented a crime and entrapped their client.But the jury agreed with the prosecution's argument that Mohamud, 19 years old at the time of the crime, was already radicalized and could have backed out of the bomb plot at any point.Mohamud's lawyers argued in court earlier this month that his constitutional rights were violated because investigators obtained evidence through warrantless interceptions of electronic communications between the defendant and foreigners who were under surveillance.In that hearing, one of Mohamud's federal public defenders, Lisa Hay, said it was as if the government had a warrant for a letter in a delivery truck, but "grabbed the whole truck" and examined all of it's contents.Siding with the prosecution, U.S. District Judge Garr King in Portland wrote in a 56-page decision that he was "unpersuaded (that) incidental communications collected" in this way without a warrant violated Mohamud's rights.The case comes at a time of increased public debate about government monitoring of electronic communications of Americans, in light of disclosures made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden of U.S. surveillance activities.Mohamud's public defenders declined to discuss the ruling, and federal prosecutors could not be reached for comment."We are disappointed with the court's decision," American Civil Liberties Union attorney Alex Abdo said in a statement."To accept the court's reasoning is to grant the government effectively unfettered access to Americans' international calls and emails," Abdo said. (Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Ken Wills)

United Nations News Centre - UN officials welcome move to set up interim administration for south-west Somalia

United Nations News Centre - UN officials welcome move to set up interim administration for south-west Somalia

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the top United Nations envoy in Somalia have welcomed the agreement reached to establish a new interim regional administration in the south-western part of the country.
The new Interim South West Administration will comprise the regions of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle, according to the agreement signed yesterday in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. “The Secretary-General commends all parties involved for their diligent negotiation of this important agreement, and looks forward to its prompt implementation,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement. “He recalls that the formation of inclusive regional administrations is a key milestone in Somalia’s path towards a federal system of governance, in line with the Provisional Constitution and the aspirations of the Somali people.” The agreement was also welcomed by Nicholas Kay, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), who congratulated all parties for their commitment to finding a solution through dialogue and negotiation. “I urge all parties to continue to work closely with the Federal Government and ensure an inclusive administration is established swiftly,” he stated in a news release issued on Monday. Mr. Kay said the agreement is “a significant step forward” in Somalia’s progress towards federalism, and will also clear the way for improved security and a more effective campaign against the insurgent group known as Al-Shabaab. Set up in June 2013, UNSOM is tasked with, among other things, providing UN ‘good offices’ functions to support peace and reconciliation; assisting the Government and the existing African Union peacekeeping force known as AMISOM with advice on peacebuilding and state-building; and helping build capacity in human rights and the rule of law.

Cabinet approves agreement reached by opposing sides in South West Somalia

Cabinet approves agreement reached by opposing sides in South West Somalia

The Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia His Excellency Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed chaired an extraordinary session of the Somali Cabinet tonight that led to a unanimous approval of yesterday’s agreement reached by the opposing sides in South West Somalia.

Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed described the agreement reached by the two sides as a progressive one that represents a positive step towards reconciliation in Somalia and the establishment of a federal system.

“The Federal Government of Somalia welcomes the agreement signed yesterday by the opposing sides in South West Somalia. We will continue to encourage and support the agreement. This government is ready to take part in the finalization and implementation of this agreement, which will be a lasting solution to the conflict. The people of the region are brothers and sisters and must come together to establish an inclusive interim administration,” said Prime Minister Ahmed.

The Somali Minister of Youth and Sports Khalid Omar Ali, who spoke to the press after the session, said the Council of Ministers unanimously approved the agreement after a long discussion on the terms of the agreement reached by the two opposing administrations in South West Somalia.

“The Cabinet’s extraordinary session tonight was on the agreement reached yesterday by the opposing administrations in South West Somalia. This agreement is part of the government’s vision to encourage reconciliation among the Somali people. The government will be a big part of the implementation of this agreement and the completion of anything that is missing. The Council of Ministers also said that the government is ready to engage the people who are not happy with yesterday’s agreement. The government will continue to work towards fostering understanding among the people of Somalia,” said the Minister, who also said that this agreement will open the way for improving security and strengthening the security operations against the insurgent group al-Shabaab.

The Federal Government of Somalia, under the leadership of Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, played a significant role in brokering yesterday’s agreement between the opposing sides in South West Somalia. The terms of the agreement included establishing an interim regional administration and appointing an inclusive committee to facilitate the formation of the regional administration.

Office of the Prime Minister
Mogadishu, Somalia

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Massachusetts mayor: "Enough is enough," stop sending my city refugees - CBS News

Massachusetts mayor: "Enough is enough," stop sending my city refugees - CBS News

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 center 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent of refugees who struggle are the focus and not the 95 percent 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."

BBC News - Kenya coast raids: 'Five dead' in new attack near Mpeketoni

BBC News - Kenya coast raids: 'Five dead' in new attack near Mpeketoni

At least five people have been killed in an attack on the Kenyan coast, close to the scene of raids last week in which more than 60 people died.
Officials said an armed gang descended on the village of Witu, about 15km (9 miles) from the town of Mpeketoni.
No group has said it carried out the latest attack.
Somali Islamist group al-Shabab said it was behind the raids on Mpeketoni, near Lamu but President Uhuru Kenyatta has blamed local political groups.
Lamu County Commissioner Stephen Ikua confirmed on Tuesday there had been a new "unfortunate attack" overnight.
An emergency security meeting has been called to assess the situation, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reported Mr Ikua as saying.
The "attackers used machetes and other crude weapons... the victims have cuts and injuries," local village chief Kaviha Charo Karisa told Reuters news agency.
Al-Shabab said the previous raids were in response to the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia.
Map showing Mpeketoni in Kenya
Kenyan fighter jets launched renewed air strikes on the group's bases in Somalia in recent days as part of an offensive by the African Union force.
Officials said the assaults on the villages of Anole and Kuday left more than 80 militants dead, although this could not be independently verified.
Kenya sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to help the weak UN-backed government defeat the militants.
Last week's attacks in Mpeketoni started on the evening of 15 June as locals were watching a football World Cup match on television.
Gunmen went on to carry out further assaults in villages nearby the next day.
The Kenyan government has since put out advice urging people to watch World Cup matches at home rather than gathering in bars or others public places.
The Kenyan Red Cross says about 600 households are currently taking refuge in two camps after fleeing the violence around Mpeketoni.

Conference Communiqué : Global Somali Diaspora (Horusocod)

Conference Communiqué : Global Somali Diaspora (Horusocod)

The first-ever Global Somali Diaspora Conference was held on 21st – 22nd of June 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey. The conference, which was the culmination of many consultations and smaller meetings among Somali Diaspora over the past year, was attended by 100 leaders, activists, professionals and community representatives from Australia, Asia, North America, Europe and Africa. The participants of the Conference agreed on the importance of a unified global Somali Diaspora Organization and resolved to create an organization named “Global Somali Diaspora”.

The conference was addressed by the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey H.E. Professor, Dr. Emrullah Isler, Former Somali Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Osman Jama Ali (Kallun), H.E. Maryam Qasim, the former minister of social services, Turkish Diaspora Agency Vice President Mr. Mehmet Kose, Somali Ambassador to Turkey, H.E. Mohamed Mursal, Turkish Ambassador to Somalia, H.E. Dr. Cemalettin Kani Torun, and many other notable speakers. A memorable performance was provided by the Somali composer, singer and song-writer Al-Ustad Ahmed Naji Saad.
After two days of deliberations, participants resolved to:
I.        Form a global Somali Diaspora organization with chapters around the world that connects communities and mobilses them for a positive action.
II.       Express profound gratitude to the government and people of Turkey for hosting the conference and the warm hospitality.
The Global Somali Diaspora organization is a membership-based, non­political, advocacy organization that strives to become a home for all peoples of Somali origin. It will work with all governments, regions, groups and organizations for the betterment of Somali people.
The objectives of this organization are:
1.   To mobilize, organize and empower the Somali communities in the diaspora.
2.   To promote the language, culture and heritage of Somali people.
3.   To provide a voice and advocacy for all issues pertinent for the Somali communities in the Diaspora and in the homeland.
The new Global Somali Diaspora organization has Board of Trustees and Board of Advisors each comprising of 9 people representing the five continents. Mr. Abdi Barud (Hariir) of Bristol, UK was elected as an Executive Director and Mr. Sadik Warfa of Minnesota, USA as a Deputy Executive Director.

The last marqaan

The last marqaan

As Ahmed (not his real name) walked home from his local marfish in Ealing, West London at 11.55am last night he was in a mixed mood. As of 12am today Khat in the UK is officially banned and a class C drug. Anyone using it, selling it or supplying it will be breaking the law and would be dealt with in accordance with the seriousness of their crimes with supplying been the most serious offence which carries a 14 year prison sentence. 

The British Prime Minister (PM), writing exclusively for Hiiraan Online, argued that the decision to ban khat was based on the destructive social impact it has on families and society as a whole and that it was widely supported by the Somali community which had been asking for this for years.
David Cameron argued that khat affected communities like the Somalis in the UK blamed the drug for “family breakdown, unemployment, and debt and crimes links to the global illicit drugs trade.” As a result of this concern his government had decided “enough was enough” and acted swiftly towards banning it.  The British PM wrote that the action of banning Khat shows that his government, which is also committed to developing Somalia as a nation too and keeping it on the global agenda, “cares about, and listens to, our British Somali community.”
Just before 12am this morning when the Khat ban came into legal affect Ahmed had spat out the khat into a bin near a Somali restaurant, gargled his mouth with bottled water and sat in the restaurant to contemplate the banning of the drug he had enjoyed since arriving in the UK in 1999.
“This was the last mirqaan night for me because I have to stop now. I don’t agree with ban and I don’t like David Cameron but we have to obey the law,” said Ahmed who did not want his real name revealed. “I am law abiding person and I have a job I can lose if I chew khat again but some men are still in the marfish chewing and they are now criminals because it is after midnight.”
Chief Constable Andy Bliss, the lead Police officer in the Khat strategy, made it clear in his exclusive statement to Hiiraan Online that “Policing efforts will focus on those individuals who choose to import, export or supply khat after the Ban is implemented.” He went on to write that:
 “The police approach is based on a policy of proportionate escalation.  As part of this approach, the Government has introduced a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) as a further option for dealing with khat possession offences.  This will be at the lower level fine, unlike the cannabis PND which is at the higher level.  This differentiates between cannabis as a Class B drug and khat as a Class C drug.”
Somali community leaders all over the UK have urged Khat users over many meetings held before the ban to obey the law and to seek support from the available and qualified agencies to help with health and social issues after the ban. On the other hand, they also pleaded with the public service providers in health, education and employment to respond to the needs of their community in a culturally sensitive way so as to ascertain the best possible outcomes for them.
HOL English News Desk

Sunday, June 22, 2014

GEESKA AFRIKA ONLINE The Horn of Africa Intelligence News Group » Somalia: Why Puntland in peace and Mogadishu in crises?

GEESKA AFRIKA ONLINE » Somalia: Why Puntland in peace and Mogadishu in crises?

The Somalis, as part of their tradition, are more often than not, attached to historical events so as to make ruling or find a solution to any standing problems. In that regard, the history of war and peace is a unique reference in the eye of Somali elders. Barely any events and stories pass without necessarily quoting war sayings and peace proverbs. Somalis are fussed by three forces as part of identity and survival, these are: pastoralism and culture which are a way of life, secondly the Somali language that stands out to be an exceptionally unique identity and order that brings them together and isolates them from other non Somalis, the third force is the clan politics-the latter is a vital fact as all Somalis believed political clan representation as a “matter of life and death.” Somalia remained a stateless society up until the emergence of the Ethiopian Somali freedom fighters and the commander of the Dervish forces, Sayyid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan, alias Mad-Mullah who liberated them from European colonization. The Dervish, which was the strongest army in the history of all Somalis in the Horn of Africa during the 19th century, had its headquarters in Puntland of Somalia. The Dervishes also operated faintly between different temporary locations such as Daratole (Doolo zone-Ethiopia,) Buuhoodle (Danot District of the Ethiopian side), Eyl District, Aynabo and Taleeh districts. However, Sayyid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan never considered South Somalia, mainly Mogadishu, the headquarters. His reason was perhaps that he could not trust any pledge of loyalty from Mogadishu residents. For some reasons the past leaders of Somalia, including the late president Abdullahi Yusuf, never agreed to the idea that Mogadishu is an appropriate capital city for Somalia. They believed that there were numerically small tribes with fragmented Persian and Arabian genealogy who dwelt in Mogadishu long before the arrival of European (Italian) colonialists that crowded Mogadishu. The Hawiye tribe, who arrived late to Mogadishu city, badly mishandled minority tribes in Mogadishu with impunity, and exempted them from the city leadership administration. This uncouth aggression from the Hawiye tribe against the minority Mogadishu tribes made the glorious Mogadishu unstable and a “time bomb city.”
Mogadishu, since the collapse of the Said Barre regime in 1991 became an apparition city; a city of death, devastation, rape and looting; it has entirely lost its fame and pleasure in the eyes of Somalis. Many Somali elites believe that Mogadishu featured the endless Somali civil war needs to be taken into account critically and re-analyzed if at all a national reconciliation is foreseeable solution for Somalia.  If an area becomes devastating and by extension an “axis of evil” hideout, the only solution could be shifting it out completely or imposing total isolation in order to punish the inhabitant, however, the later resolution is not a preferred choice.
Mogadishu continues to be the spotlight of so much demolition and human death when other cities such as Garowe, Hargeysa, Kismayo and more enjoy some sort of diminutive security and stability. The metropolitan city (Mogadishu) has completely lost its attraction drastically, simply because of the continuous onslaught of human beings. Thus it is very normal and acceptable for a country to change its capital city as long as it is for the interest and benefit of its people. The most imperative element in human emotion and psychology is “peace,” if this element is under threat, human beings’ capacity of creativity and production will cease, leadership will disappear and all hopes will shrink desperately. Consequently, any desire of change of a country capital city is normally based in three factors, i.e. political, social and economic reasons, considering the past example of various countries that changed their capital city, such as Tanzania-changed capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma and Nigeria changed her capital city from Lagos to Abuja. The then Somalia Transitional Federal Government’s decision to use Baydhabo as a temporary seat for the government was also a courageous and important political decision that brought relative stability in the country in those days of late president Abdullahi Yusuf.
In just about two perfect decades and plus, Somalia is in a civil war; killing and counter-killing became the order of the day. Somalia refugees scattered all over the five continents in the globe. Suffering and insolvency subjugated the world medias. Insurgencies of different fashions and with diverse ideologies ranging from ‘warlordism’, religious fundamentalism, and certain ‘cartelism’ conquered Somalia’s affairs in a fashion no less than the cruelest irony of the 21st century. Much more is the fundamental abuse of honor and virtue in Somalia.
The worst form of human catastrophe has swallowed Mogadishu.  High level of crimes committed against humanity in Somalia took place in Mogadishu and its vicinity. No man better knows what good is than he who has endured evil of killing in Mogadishu. Each and every one of the successive Transitional Federal Governments formed since 1992 suffered humiliating defeats from sympathizers of the axis of evil permanently stationed in Mogadishu. All the religious and warlords insurgencies were basically sheltered in Mogadishu and its immediate environs. Although faint peace and stability was apprehended in other parts of Somalia such as Puntland, Somaliland and of late increasingly in Jubaland, still the headhunting, public shootings, bomb blasts, summary executions and all sorts of evil against humanity are carried out in Mogadishu.
Why Garowe will be the perfect option for Somalia’s capital city
Garowe city, one of the Somali commercial towns was formally incorporated into Italian-ruled Somalia during the colonial period. Following the Somalia independence in 1960, Garowe was made a district center of Bosaso, the seaport city with a perfect natural harbor. The city would subsequently be re-assigned in the early 1970s as the regional capital of an area consisting of Las Anod and Eyl. With a leg on each side of the Nugal Valley, this new administrative division was later named  the Nugal province.
Following the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, Garowe was the only city that experienced the least war vandalism; a homogenous commercial city was later renamed as the capital of Puntland, autonomous state of Somalia a homegrown constitutional conference was held in Garowe in 1998 over a period of three months, first of its kind in any part of Somalia since the collapse of the Said Bare regime. Attended by the area’s political elite, traditional elders (Issims,) members of the business community, intellectuals and other civil society representatives, the autonomous Puntland State of Somalia was subsequently officially established so as to deliver services to the population, offer security, facilitate trade, and interact with both domestic and international partners.
Puntland is a historical identity for all Somalis; every Somali ancestor has got a time immemorial historical reference to Puntland. It is the part of Somalia that had a long history of trade dealings with the pharaoh kingdom of Egypt. In addition, Puntland has a history of respecting conventions such as the trade dealings with Said Barqash, the Sultan of Zanzibar and the British protectorate of Somaliland. Garowe city at the moment is a perfect option for being Somalia’s capital city. As the saying goes “diversity is the touchstone of virtue.” Somalia at present needs a new capital city, a new formula to replace the endless Mogadishu desolation, and open a new chapter of peace and reconciliation as change is as good as rest.
Opinion: Geeska Afrika Online regular Contributors & Columns By. Dr.  Ali Sheikh is an MBA-IB. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

APA - Azerbaijani student attempts to commit suicide as protest against Somali events - RESCUE VIDEO – UPDATED

APA - Azerbaijani student attempts to commit suicide as protest against Somali events - RESCUE VIDEO – UPDATED

The Ministry of Emergency Situations has issued a statement on the fact that a girl attempted to commit suicide in Baku.
The ministry’s hotline “112” received a call that a girl was going to commit suicide in Narimanov district of Baku, APA reports.

Rescuers revealed that the girl was going throw herself out of her apartment on the 14th floor.

The rescuers took necessary measures at the site, told with the girl and rescued her using a favorable moment.

The rescue operation ended at 11:03 local time. 

A 20-year-old girl attempted to commit suicide.

Narimanov Police Department told APA that the incident was recorded in the apartment 46, Hidayatzada Street 37a.

Baku resident, student of Baku State Social-Economic College, 20-year-old Gunel Hasanova attempted to throw herself out of her apartment on the 14th floor.

Hasanova was forced to change her mind by the police and employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, who arrived at the scene.

The police informed that Hasanova wanted to commit suicide as a protest against the treatment toward the people in Somali and their sufferings from hunger.

Somali journalist killed in bomb attack - Yahoo News

Somali journalist killed in bomb attack - Yahoo News

A Somali journalist died in Mogadishu Saturday after a bomb believed to have been attached to his car was remotely detonated, police and witnesses said.
The victim, prominent local journalist Yusuf Keynan, was working with Mustaqbal radio, a private Mogadishu FM station, and also contributed to the Nairobi, Kenya-based UN humanitarian radio Ergo.
"It was a local journalist who was targeted in the attack. The bomb attached under the seat of his car went off, leaving him dead," Somali police official Abdi Garane said.
Somali security forces sealed off the area to investigate the incident, the second killing of a journalist in Mogadishu this year.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Mogadishu has been hit by a string of attacks by the country's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, who are fighting to overthrow the war-torn country's fragile internationally-backed government.
Recent Shebab attacks have targeted key areas of government, or the security forces, in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities and African Union troops that they are winning the war against the Islamist fighters.
On Wednesday a student doctor was killed and seven others wounded in a bombing at Keysansey hospital in northern Mogadishu, which is run by the Somali Red Crescent Society with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). That attack also involved a bomb being attached to a car.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said it was "deeply shocked" by what it called a "senseless murder of the Somali humanitarian journalist."
The victim was among the winners of 2013 Somali Media Awards organised by NUSOJ and the United Nations.
"We condemn the heinous murder of our colleague and call for prompt investigations into the case," NUSOJ Secretary General Mohamed Ibrahim said. "We demand the killers be brought to justice."

BBC News - Khat ban: Why is it being made illegal?

BBC News - Khat ban: Why is it being made illegal?

The leafy plant khat, which acts as a stimulant when chewed, is about to become a banned class C drug in the UK. But how big a problem is it and why are ministers making it illegal?
It could be a scene from a market in Mogadishu. Dozens of Somali men are throwing cardboard boxes at each other across a dusty warehouse floor.
Money is exchanging hands amid all the noise and hustle. In fact, this is happening on an industrial estate near London Heathrow and by Tuesday all this activity will be illegal.
That is because of what is inside the boxes that have just been delivered to this depot.
It is a plant called khat or miraa or - more mystically - "Tea of the Arabs". Users chew the bitter leaves of this natural stimulant. It is supposed to make them more alert and raise energy levels, which is why supporters of khat say it is as harmless as coffee or tea.
'Join the jobless'
At the moment, according to the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), about 2,560 tonnes are imported to the UK every year. The Treasury even benefits from £2.5m per annum in taxes on the khat trade.
From his West London depot, Mahat - who did not want to give his surname - oversees the importing of 7,000 boxes of it a week - fresh off the overnight flight from Nairobi.
Men working among boxes of khat in west London depot Cafe owners from around the UK come to the west London depot to collect boxes of khat to distribute
"Obviously the ban is going to completely shut down my business," he said. "We will have to join the million jobless around here and look for other jobs."
Around the UK there are also hundreds of khat cafes where men from the Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities go to chew.
Looking at the other end of the supply chain, Kenyan khat farmer FG Machuma is worried about how the ban will hurt 500,000 farmers who cultivate the plant in the Horn of Africa.
"This is going to render our people into destitution including women and children."
Khat - its effects and risks
A man chewing khat leaves
The two main stimulants in khat speed up the user's mind and body, like a less powerful amphetamine.
It makes people happy and talkative but can cause insomnia and temporary confusion.
Chewed for a few hours it leaves users with a feeling of calm, described by some as "blissed out".
The drug could make pre-existing mental health problems worse and it can provoke feelings of anxiety and aggression.
It can also inflame the mouth and damage teeth, and there are concerns about the long-term risk of mouth cancers.
The estimated £15m a year generated for African economies exporting khat to the UK was one of the reasons MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee opposed the ban.
In a report last year they argued that "the potential negative effects, both on the diaspora communities who consume khat in the UK, and on the growers who cultivate it in Africa, outweigh any possible benefits".
FG Machuma Khat farmer FG Machuma says chewing the leaves is no worse than drinking alcohol or smoking
The committee told Home Secretary Theresa May: "Khat has no direct causal link to adverse medical effects. There's no good evidence to suggest a direct link between khat use and psychosis."
And the MPs on the committee were not the only ones with concerns. The government's own advisory council also cautioned against a ban, concerned at the lack of evidence that it harms health or wider society.
The ACMD concluded: "Beyond contradictory anecdotal statements no credible evidence has been found to show a direct causal relationship between khat and the various harms for which its consumption is claimed to be responsible."
But in an article for the World Health Organisation on Yemen, where an estimated 90% of adult males chew for three to four hours a day, Dr A A Gunaid from Sana'a University has warned: "Khat chewers experience euphoria followed by depression, while people who are genetically predisposed are extremely vulnerable to psychosis."
In the end, the home secretary pushed ahead with plans to make khat illegal.
'Distracting from education'
Data from the NHS in England for 2010/11 shows 112 people starting drug treatment cited past involvement with khat.
In Wales, six referrals have been recorded since 2009 on the Welsh National Database for Substance Misuse.
Karen Bradley, the Home Office minister overseeing the ban, admits hard evidence is difficult to come by, partly because the communities which use the drug are so small.
Karen Bradley Karen Bradley: "This affects a very small community"
So given the lack of definite figures and sketchy medical evidence why does the UK government still want to control it?
"We took the decision based on the strong views of the Somali community, particularly the mums and wives," the minister says.
"They felt that khat was stopping the Somali community from integrating; it was distracting the husbands and sons from getting the education and the jobs that their wives and mothers desperately wanted them to get."
She is also keen to point out that the active component chemicals in khat - cathinone and cathine - are actually already banned in their own right - cathinones were sold as legal highs until 2010 when they were made class B drugs.
Khat plants Khat is mainly grown in Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen
Liban Noah is a community worker from one of the 32 community groups the government says actively lobbied the Home Office for the ban.
And as the minister points out, Mr Noah - from Hayes, west London - managed to get support from many Somali women who are concerned that men using khat do not engage properly with their families because of their habit.
Suaad Abdiaziz is one of those supporting the ban and she has a blunt message for Somali khat-users in their cafes: "You should be taking care of your children and working - not sitting in a room chewing khat."
Mr Noah also contests the idea that khat does not affect the mental health of those who chew it for hours on end. He insists it does because of the insomnia it triggers.
"They don't eat food, they don't sleep when they abuse khat," he said. "That causes huge mental problems and the evidence is that Somali mental breakdown is increasing."
Al-Shabab warning
The imminent ban will bring the UK into line with much of the EU and the US where khat is already a controlled substance.
Ministers say this was also a deciding factor in the arguments to criminalise it.
"The UK was at risk of becoming a base for organised criminals who wanted to smuggle khat to other countries where it was controlled," said Ms Bradley.
Vice's Alex Miller examined the potential impact of the ban for BBC Newsnight.
Some security experts have even argued that the East African extremist group al-Shabab has profited from the export and sale of khat.
This was dismissed by the ACMD, which complained it had not been provided with "any evidence of al-Shabab involvement despite repeated requests for this information from a number of national and international official sources".
Inevitably - as with all bans - a black market will emerge and the price of khat for those who buy it in the UK will rise. In America, khat currently sells for 10 times the pre-ban price in UK (it costs on average £3 a bunch).
Back at the west London depot, Mahat may be winding down his own import business to stay on the right side of the law, but he believes others will still find a way to bring it into the UK.
"Yes of course they will smuggle it," he says with certainty. "You will see khat around the UK streets."
Source: Talk to Frank