Carnage in London, assassination in Mogadishu
Recently, we witnessed the atrocities that brought carnage to London’s public transport network and loss of one of Somalia’s prominent peace activists, Mr. Abdulkadir Yahya who was assassinated in his home in Mogadishu. It is for those who are in the why-business to explain the motives behind these attacks, nevertheless, it is reasonable to say that these two unrelated events have one common denominator, both creating havoc in their respective localities. The Somali community in Britain feels the agony of these two awful events. They feel that they may become the victims of reprisals following London’s bombings. The recent execution-style killing of Somali peace activist also dampens the hope of restoring law and order in Mogadishu further into the void. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said “such acts of violence undermined the prospects for peace and reconciliation.”
July 7 was a dark day for Londoners regardless of their background. It was around nine in the morning when London underground train system was rocked by a series of blasts. Explosions were reported at Russell Square, Liverpool Street, Aldgate East, Kings Cross, Edgware Road, and Moorgate tube stations. It was not only the subway that came under attack. A bomb exploded on a double decker bus at Tavistock Square. A spokesperson for the Police said “A series of explosions rocked London's transport system at rush hour on Thursday morning, causing numerous casualties and leaving millions of passengers in shock.” These blasts paralysed London’s transport network and the capital was in a state of extreme confusion. The bombs killed more than 50 and wounded over 700 people.
A fear of backlash against British Muslims including the Somali community started as soon as news of the bomb explosions spread. Although Muslims were quick to condemn the atrocities and encouraged the government not to foster a climate of suspicion towards Muslim but that did not stop some people to point the finger at Muslims. The Muslim Council of Britain, the main body of British Muslims received thousands of hate mails and threats within the first 24 hours of the explosions.
Many politicians particularly Ken Livingston, the Mayor of London, have shown quality leadership during this testing time. However, the sense of insecurity is not far from the surface as many Muslims remember what happened after September 11 when there were incidents of reprisals against visible Muslims. And the Somali women who follow the true teachings of Islam could be the victims of reprisals because of their distinct dress.
These attacks have brought back bad memories of atrocities for the Somalis in Britain as they experienced a prolonged civil war which killed a quarter of a million people. Somalia is an unsafe country and the killing of Abdulkadir Yahya is a manifest reminder.
Yahya was a victim of an apparently political killing in Mogadishu on 11 July 2005. He was the co-founder and director of the Centre for Research and Dialogue, an affiliate of the War Torn Societies Project International (WSP). He was shot by unidentified hooded gunmen in his home. In 1996, when another Somali peace activist was assassinated, Amnesty International said “Elman Ali Ahmed murder has sent a chilling message to Somalis desirous of peace and normality -- that no one is safe.” The same can be said about the assassination of Yahye if not more. The hope of restoring peace is somehow greater than it was nine years ago. In a peace drive unseen in Mogadishu’s recent chaotic history has increased that hope and the death of Yahye may dash that hope.
Somalis in Britain are victims of a civil war and refugees in this country. In short, they are double victims. However, to live in Britain respectfully and share common good values with the rest of the British society while retaining one’s culture is a challenge that Somalis cannot duck. “These evil deeds make victims of us all. The evil people who planned and carried out these series of explosions in London want to demoralise us as a nation and divide us as a people.” the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said in a statement. Somalis share this fear with other Muslims in Britain.
Unfortunately, they have a problem of their own. They are witnessing the inability of the new government to bring about peace and reconciliation. It is a great challenge for all Somalis especially those who use their minds creatively and do not normally make decisions based on instincts and emotions to save Somalia and restore peace and stability in the country. Many prominent peace activists are tireless campaigners for peace and some like Elman and Yahye have sacrificed their lives for it.
To bring peace is not an easy task, however, the death
of Yahya shall not discourage us from rallying around our peace
activities and we shall pick up the pieces where he left and finish his
mission by demonstrating our solid resolve. We owe him and all those
killed in the name of peace to accomplish their mission by bringing
about peace and stability to our country and to the world.
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