Monday, April 27, 2015

UK & Europe

khat bristol

khat bristol

Bristol — POLICE in Bristol have made their biggest seizure of the herbal stimulant khat since it became illegal nearly three months ago.

Khat, now a class C drug, was sold and chewed openly in the city at about 30 cafes – known as mafrishes – before the ban came into force on June 24.

Police officers in Easton took to Twitter last week to tell followers they had made their biggest seizure of the drug since the ban – along with a picture of the dried khat in sandwich bags.

Twenty-four bags of the dried substance, with a street value of £250, were seized at a property in Stapleton Road, Easton on Wednesday, but no arrests have been made in relation to the incident.

At the time of khat being made illegal, the Bristol Post spoke to people from the 10,000-strong Somali community who hailed the move as a watershed moment.

But dozens of small businesses which sold the plant were likely to lose out.

Some community leaders also warned that the ban would criminalise Somalis who chewed the amphetamine-like plant.

It was also later reported that the ban was increasing anti-social behaviour in Easton.

Somali community activist, Abdi Mohamed, of the Bristol Somali Media Group, said the closure of khat cafes had forced young users on the street.

Residents complained in July that groups of up to 100 noisy men were congregating on streets near Stapleton Road late into the night.

The problem was at first attributed to the end of the daily dawn-to-dusk fast during Ramadan.

Police stepped up patrols in the area and put up posters asking for respect for neighbours during Ramadan.

But Mr Mohamed told the Bristol Post the antisocial behaviour was not just down to the Muslim month of fasting.

He said: “If you think about it, there were 20 to 30 khat cafes full every evening when the ban was not in place and now they are closed.

“These cafes were not just for people taking khat, they were for people to socialise in, too, and now a lot of people have nowhere to go in the evenings.”

Minutes from a meeting of the Bristol Somali Forum with senior police officers and council officials showed the authorities were warned about a potential problem before the ban in June.

The plant is grown predominantly in Kenya and has been chewed for centuries by members of the Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities.

A police spokesman said anyone caught with the Class C drug could face up to two years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Source: Bristol Post

Fadumo Dayib aims to become the first Somali woman to lead the country
Fadumo Dayib aims to become the first Somali woman to lead the country
Fadumo Dayib aims to become the first Somali woman to lead the country

YLE – A Finn of Somali origin wants to run as a candidate in the Somali presidential election in 2016. Fadumo Dayib is currently studying public administration at Harvard, but she thinks that Somalia is now ready for a female president.

Fadumo Dayib moved to Finland in the 1990s to escape the civil war in Somalia. She’s now studying at Harvard but planning to return to Somalia—and she thinks she can make quite an impact on the country.

”I want to be Somalia’s president because I believe women have a chance to lead Somalia,” said Dayib. ”Women lead the country economically, manage family budgets and are very visible in society, but they have been kept out of politics. Somalia is now ready for a female president.”

In addition to improving the position of women in Somali society, Dayib’s campaign themes are fighting youth unemployment, protecting minorities and improving education.

”It’s shocking that we have a younger generation that hasn’t experienced anything but war,” said Dayib. ”They can’t even imagine any other kind of future than war and destruction.”

Dayib will go to Somalia next year, when her campaign officially gets off the ground.

”There are Somalis and foreigners from all over the world in my campaign team,” said Dayib. ”Many of them have come voluntarily to support me, which means that they’re of the opinion that a woman can become president of Somalia.”

Clans crucial in Somali elections
Dayib travels to Finland in December to discuss her plans with Somali communities based in Finland. She does not want her campaign to be clan-based, which has been the custom in previous Somali elections.

”In the past, clans have chosen Somalia’s president,” said Dayib. ”Now there’s a hope Somalia can have a democratic election. I hope that people will vote for candidates, not clans.”

Two years ago, another Somali woman based in Finland, Amal Abdi Ibrahim, made an unsuccessful bid to run for president, but was denied because she was just under the minimum age of 40.

Somali democrats hope the 2016 elections could be a watershed in the country’s politics. The ’Vision 2016’ conference hosted by incumbent president Hasan Sheikh Mohamud in 2013 urged Somali political parties to free themselves from clan affiliation, that the 2016 elections be free and fair, and that a new constitution be established before the vote.

That’s a tall order in a country like Somalia, where politicians are at constant risk of violent attacks.

”It’s very dangerous to be a politician or candidate in Somalia,” said Dayib. ”I’ve been warned many times that I could be killed if I run as a candidate.”

Dayib acknowledges that the risk of being killed is indeed high.

”But I’m not scared of dying,” said Dayib. ”We all have to go at some point. If I die because I am defending something that I strongly believe in, then that’s an honour.”

Source: YLE

Sergeant Charles Pilbeam

Sergeant Charles Pilbeam

A police sergeant who stamped on a mentally ill prisoner’s foot during a strip search and told him ‘Welcome to Hackney’ has walked free from court.

Sgt Charles Pilbeam, 30, forced Somalia-born Abdi Ali-Ahmed to pick up scraps of paper in an interview room after twisting his ear and dragging him to the floor, St Albans Magistrates’ Court heard.

The officer then tried to initiate a cover-up of his brutal treatment, telling trainee constable Cordelle Sailsman not to report the incident, which occurred at Shoreditch Police Station on March 2 last year.

Two fully-qualified PCs, Brian Sharkey and Rob Baker, were also in the room when the incident occurred but gave statements which were ‘silent or very vague…on what actually happened’, the court heard.

The pair remain on active duty, while Pilbeam is currently suspended pending disciplinary proceedings.

The victim, who is in his twenties, had ‘a difficult childhood’ in war-torn Somalia and suffers from multiple mental health issues, the court heard.

During the incident, he was prevented from getting dressed after a full strip-search by Pilbeam.

Mr Ali-Ahmed had not been arrested but was being served with a dispersal notice, having voluntarily given up a small bag of cannabis.

Pilbeam, of Stevenage, Hertfordshire, was also convicted of assaulting a taxi driver while off-duty when he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today.

He had denied the offences but was convicted of two counts of common assault and sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

PC Sailsman, now a fully qualified officer, had told a trial last month he was ‘very certain’ the assaults took place on March 2 last year.

He claimed PC Baker ‘turned and looked at me and raised his eyebrows’ while their superior attacked the prisoner.

Charles Pilbeam
Sergeant Charles Pilbeam, 30, stamped on Somalia-born Abdi Ali-Ahmed and forced him to the floor during a full strip search at Shoreditch Police Station

PC Sailsman said Pilbeam later commanded him not to report the incident and said: ‘I’m sorry to have put you in that situation. Don’t make notes, I will write it up.’

The softly-spoken officer added: ‘I felt quite intimidated at the time.’

But PC Sailsman immediately reported the events to a superior at Stoke Newington police station.

He recounted Pilbeam was ‘breathing heavily, almost panting’, before the assaults, adding Pilbeam also stamped on Mr Ali-Ahmed’s shin.

He said when Mr Ali-Ahmed asked what the dispersal notice was, PC Baker replied: ‘We don’t want you in Hackney’.

After Mr Ali-Ahmed shredded the document and threw it on the floor, Pilbeam ranted, ‘You are going to f*cking pick that up. This is my police station and you are going to pick it up’.

Pilbeam then grabbed his homeless victim by the ear, pushed him to the ground and forced him to pick up individual shreds.

When Mr Ali-Ahmed asked why he deserved this abuse, Pilbeam replied: ‘Welcome to Hackney’.

PC Sailsman said later he heard Pilbeam on the phone to an inspector, calling Mr Ali-Ahmed a ‘local slag’ and reassuring him he would write up the incident.

In fact, documentation was completed late, only after Pilbeam had seen PC Sharkey and PC Baker in what he described as a ‘passing’ encounter.

Defence counsel Guy Ladenburg suggested Mr Ali-Ahmed was potentially violent, but PC Sailsman maintained he was ‘very compliant’ and seated at all times.

‘In my opinion, he was scared’, PC Sailsman commented.

Pilbeam had tried to undermine PC Sailsman’s testimony, telling the court the young officer was motivated to lie because of ‘constructive criticism’ he had dished out.

But District Judge John Zani, sitting at Westminster Magistrates Court, discounted the defendant’s account and found him guilty of assault.

As well as the suspended sentence, Pilbeam was also ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 compensation to Mr Ali-Ahmed.

He was also handed a concurrent eight week jail term, also suspended for two years, after being convicted of criminal damage and assaulting the taxi driver while off-duty last February 6.

He was also ordered to pay the driver £100 compensation and £620 for the costs of the two trials.

Daily Mail

Local Somalis told the Wandsworth Guardian the family had been there for 4 months
Local Somalis told the Wandsworth Guardian the family had been there for 4 months
Local Somalis told the Wandsworth Guardian the family had been there for 4 months

Serious concerns have been raised after a Somali family spent four months living on a high street bench.

The pair, understood to be mother and son, have centered their lives around the bench outside TK Maxx, in the busy Tooting High Street.They have multiple suitcases around them, a sun-lounger and a stool, and the lady, thought to be in her 60s, is often seen sheltering herself under an umbrella.

The pair are positioned in a busy shopping area
The pair are positioned in a busy shopping area

Each night the family is seen huddled under sleeping bags, sometimes cuddled up to one another.

Her son, thought to be in his late 20s, looks after his mother who spends most of her time on the bench.

Tens of thousands of cars drive past them each day, as well as shoppers. Locals from both the Somali community and others have stopped to offer them help, food and accommodation.

However, they have so far refused help and offers from the council for a roof over their heads.

The Wandsworth Guardian approached the pair, with a lady fluent in both English and Somali, to try to talk to them. However, attempts to engage were rebuffed.

What is known of the woman’s story is that she previously lived inBattersea and her husband died a few years ago.

It is understood his body was left for an extensive amount of time in the home and, following his death, the woman spent a considerable period in hospital.

Local Somalis, who have spoken to the pair, said the woman did not want temporary accommodation she had been offered but wanted to return to what she had before – a council house.

A local Somali, who asked not to be named, said: “I feel sorry for her. I wish somebody could help them. She feels the whole world is against her. I said ‘how do you survive at night?’ she believes she is safe.

“Why don’t they accept help? They are losing weight.

“She feels like: ‘I go into hospital and you take my home away from me’. She wasn’t warned – just went to hospital. Heartbroken.

“Relatives put her in hospital and she doesn’t trust anybody. He looks after her – she was sleeping on his lap the other night.

“She looks in pain sometimes. She has sore legs. She needs help – to go to the doctors.” It is not known how the pair get food or look after themselves but there have been reports of them using the local traders’ toilets.

A spokesman for Wandsworth Council said: “We are fully aware of this issue and have repeatedly tried to engage with the people concerned and offer them help and a proper roof over their heads but sadly all these efforts have been rebuffed.

“Unfortunately they are quite adamant that they do not want any help or support from us, nor from the other agencies who have also been trying very hard to support and assist them.

“We have been in touch with their extended family and also with representatives of the local Somali community in a bid to improve the situation, but sadly it remains unresolved.

“We are of course concerned for their welfare but unfortunately if they are determined not to accept any support then that is their choice and ultimately their right.

“We will of course continue to closely monitor the situation and continue to offer our support and assistance in the hope that they change their minds.”

Source: Your Local Guardian

Bristol somalis

Bristol somalis

A BRISTOL housing association has been nominated in this year’s National Business Awards.

Ashley Community Housing, based in Montpelier, is up for the Social Enterprise of the Year category after successive years of growth.

The award, which will be handed out in November, celebrates organisations which “exist to address a social or environmental need”.

Ashley Community Housing, started in 2012, is an association which provides housing for homeless people and gives them training to get into work.

Fuad Mahamed, the organisation’s founder, said the nomination was recognition of the important work at the organisation.

He said: “We have had a substantial impact in the city as well as the community we have worked with.

“We don’t just help with accommodation, we also help people with training and getting back into work and that’s what the award is all about really.”

The National Business Awards will be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in November.

Bristol Post

blind

blind

Daily Mail - A blind jihadist pictured fighting alongside ISIS militants in Syria has reportedly urged others to join the Islamist militants, saying having a disability is no excuse.

Taymullah al-Somali, a Dutch national who is believed to have travelled to the Middle East earlier this year, has been photographed numerous times alongside ISIS militants and is believed to be based in the capital of the self-declared caliphate, Raqqa.

The Somalia-born militant has been quoted on known Islamist social media accounts urging Muslims to join ISIS, reportedly saying: ‘Being blind didn’t stop me from coming to #Syria, what’s your excuse?’

Numerous images of al-Somali have recently emerged, showing him posing alongside an international group of jihadists – including at least two from Belgium, one of whom is reportedly named Hicham Chaib.

One image shows him posing with an anti-aircraft weapon while dressed in combat fatigues, while another chilling photograph shows him among a group of gun-toting militants holding a young child.

Another shot shows al-Somali outside an apparent sharia law court in the city of Raqqa, adorned with the black jihadist flags that have become symbolic of ISIS’ reign of terror in the Middle East.

Al-Somali, who is often pictured smiling, has become something of a poster boy for jihadists in the Middle East, who use his disability as a rallying cry that nobody is beyond joining ISIS’ ranks.

Although al-Somali’s true identity cannot be be confirmed, at least one Islamist website named him as Bashir Abu Mu’adh, who arrived in the Netherlands as a child in the early 1990s.

Earlier today Turkey’s top Islamic cleric and the successor to the last Muslim caliph’s most senior imam said ISIS’ declaration of a caliphate ‘has no legitimacy whatsoever’.

Mehmet Gormez, the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate – the highest religious authority in Turkey, added that ISIS’ death threats against Christians were a threat against all civilisation.

‘Since the caliphate was abolished … there have been movements that think they can pull together the Muslim world by re-establishing a caliphate, but they have nothing to do with reality, whether from a political or legal perspective,’ he said.

‘The statement made against Christians is truly awful. Islamic scholars need to focus on this [because] an inability to peacefully sustain other faiths and cultures heralds the collapse of a civilisation,’ he added,

Since ISIS’ advance across northern Iraq in June, Christians have fled the city of Mosul, where the militants are based, after they were given the choice to convert, pay a religious tax or be executed.

Mosul’s Christian community is one of the world’s oldest in the world, tracing its roots back two thousand years.

Source: Mail Online

invasion

invasionBritish far-right group ‘invades’ UK mosque, demands it remove ‘sexist’ signs

The far-right group Britain First posted a video showing several members of its ‘Kent battalion’ entering the Crayford Mosque and confronting an elderly man about signs labeling separate entrances for women and men. “You’ve got one week to take those signs down, otherwise we will”, a man in the video threatens.

The elder pleads with the group to remove their shoes first before entering the mosque, but he’s cut off with them saying, “When you respect our country, we’ll respect your mosques”.

VIDEO:

Oromo

London (Bartamaha) Magaalada London isbitaal ku yaalla waxaa xalay ku geeryoodey allaha u naxariste /qaadir Cismaan oo loo yiqiinnay Oromo oo ka mid ahaa qorayaasha Soomaliyeed ee qoraallada badan ka sameeyay colaadaha iyo dhaqanka Soomaaliyeed.

Waxaa la sheegay inuu qoraagu la xanuusana xanuun mudo hayey oo u ugu danbeyn ugu dhintay isbitaal ku yaalla London.

Mid kamid ah ehellada marxuumka ayaa u xaqiijiyey warbaahinta geerida Oromo, wuxuuna sheegay in maalmihii u dambeeyey uu hayey xanuun dhinaca beerka ah.

Cabdiqaadir Oromo oo ahaa qoraa caan ah ayaa qoray buugaag badan oo ka hadlayey taariikhda iyo marxaladihii ay Soomaaliya ay soo martay.

Buugaagta uu qoray waxaa kamid ah, Sababihii Burburka Soomaaliya, Sooyaalka Soomaaliya, Hadimda Gumeysiga iyo Ciirka Colaadda iyo burburkii Soomaaliya.

Allaha u naxariste Cabdiqaadir Oromo waxaa kalo uu lahaa buugaag iyagana uu si gaar ah uga hadlayo dadka Soomaaliyeed iyo dhibaatada dhexdooda taalla, waxaana ka mid ahaa; Ilmo Dahabo Tool-moon, Salaamullahaa Calal Xujaaj, Dhagax Kariye iyo Been Dhoobe, Toban Kunleey iyo kuwo kale.

C/qaadir Oromo intii ay dagaallada sokeeye socdeen dalka wuxuu qaybo ka mid ah noloshiisa ku qaatay Muqdisho, inkastoo uu deggenaa magaalada uu ku dhintay xalay ee London.

Bartamaha London

somali women

somali womenA volunteer for Wandsworth’s school admissions panel has been dismissed after publishing an offensive blog describing Somali women as buck-toothed herdswomen from a Saharan oasis.

Retired journalist Hugh Thompson, from Putney, will no longer sit on the borough’s Independent Appeal Panel making decisions about children who have been refused school places.

Following a panel meeting, on Wednesday, July 2, Mr Thompson, in his late 60s, published a post about a group of Somalis he referred to as “new Britons from the horn of Africa”.

He named the Somali boy and said: “His single mum turned up followed by her older mama complete with beard, another who spoke no English.

“In their shapeless cloaks and headgear, their buck-teeth and their fat little faces looking like proverbial herdswomen from some Saharan oasis. In this case called Tooting.

Wandsworth Townhall
Wandsworth Townhall

“Basically her son was a sensitive lad, slow learner, asthmatic and very shy. It was best he went to a school near her cousin and where other Somalis she knew fetched and carried their children. There was no father anywhere in the story, how do Somalis have children?”

Mr Thompson, who teaches English as a foreign language to immigrants in Merton, discussed the family’s application and went on: “Is there a point where we should show some tolerance of immigrant groups who rely totally on networks to survive.

“But they had made no effort either in terms of language, dress or custom to move towards the host culture.”

Mr Thompson described the boy’s mother putting her hands into the prayer position and tilting her head. He added: “Was this some traditional sign that she was a defenceless woman who needed the help and protection of those more powerful. If it was, it was rejected.

“Later one of the panel told of schools in London where Somalis groups split into their clans and fight it out in classroom and playground.”

A spokesman for Wandsworth Council said it was vital appeals were heard fairly and impartially and added: “We are aware of this blog post and as a result of the totally unacceptable, inappropriate and offensive language it contained, as well as the fact that it had breached the confidentiality of the panel proceedings, we have decided that this individual can no longer sit on the independent appeals panel.”

Opposition councillor and a governor of Smallwood School James Daley, said Tooting, where the family is from, was proud to welcome people from different faiths and cultures.

He added: “There is simply no tolerance for these kind of narrow-minded, offensive viewpoints – but it is of even greater concern that they come from an individual who held the power to determine the outcome of school place appeals. These are decisions which have an enormous impact on families – and are not to be taken lightly.”

After being contacted by a council solicitor, Mr Thompson removed the material and posted another entry admitting he had broken “professional and obvious rules”.

The long-term member of the Putney Society said: “I have been a fool and that’s the end of it. I knew there were certain rules and I broke them.

“I didn’t think it was very important as not many people read my blog.”

When asked if he regretted it, Mr Thompson said: “Yes and no. My blog is a diary of my life and things I think about – I write about them. Sometimes there are things I shouldn’t write about.

“I suppose on balance I probably do regret it yes. Only just.”

He denied the posts were racist but said the council was totally reasonable and totally just in dismissing him.

THIS IS LONDON

Zahra Halane Syria

Zahra Halane

Two British schoolgirls who ran away to Syria have been identified as star pupils who had 28 GCSEs between them.

Twins Salma and Zahra Halane sneaked out of their home during the night while their family slept two weeks ago.

The 16-year-old college students then boarded a flight to Turkey before crossing into Syria where they are feared to have joined their brother, believed to be fighting with Isis.

The Muslim sisters called their family from Syria to inform them they were safe and well but had “no intention” of coming home to Britain.

They are thought to have flown out to the war-torn state in response to the call to British Muslims to join 1,500 young British men already in Syria preparing to wage jihad. 

The sisters’ mother and father only discovered their daughters’ night-time departure the next morning at 8am when they went into their room and found their beds empty.

After checking they had not gone to college early, the family contacted the police to report the girls missing.

Officers were able to trace the girls onto a flight to Istanbul in Turkey.

Days later the twins contacted their family from Syria and counter-terrorism investigators were alerted.

“The family have been trying to encourage the girls to come home but they have suggested that they have no intention of doing so,” intelligence sources told The Sun.

“The case has been picked up by Counter Terrorism Unit who believe there is no purpose for them to be in Syria other than terror purposes.

“It is confirmed that they are in Syria and being dealt with by CTU, who are investigating how they got there and what they are doing out there.”

Questions have been raised over how the girls found the cash to pay for their lengthy journey while still in full-time education.

Counter-terrorism officers are investigating whether they were “recruited” and bankrolled by jihadists in Syria.

Just last month the girls, from Chorlton, Manchester, took part in a university information day at Connell Sixth Form College, which they both attend.

An image of one of the twins working at a laptop was posted on the college’s Twitter page but later removed.

After the girls disappeared, a source told The Sun: “The girls travelled to Syria after an older brother, who is believed to be an Isis fighter, travelled to the country. The girls were not on the radar. They’ve gone abroad as they wanted to be with their brother.”

Neighbours expressed shock at the twins’ departure.

“How do two young girls afford to fly out of the country without anyone stopping them?” One said.

“There are eight or nine kids in the house but I only normally see the boys going in and out. The girls are kept indoors. They don’t socialise with the rest of the estate.”

Another added: “My son goes to the same school as the younger kids, they seemed nice enough but they don’t really mix with everyone.

“What is the world coming to? You would never imagine it happening on our doorstep.”

Both girls, thought to be of Somali origin, have been described as “extremely religious”.

Some friends claimed the girls were not allowed to be seen talking to boys.

Their family, who moved to Britain about ten years ago, have no far made no public comment.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police confirmed they had received a report about the girls disappearing.

He said: “The girls flew from Manchester International Airport to Istanbul. Since their departure the girls have been in contact with their family.

“We are attempting to confirm their current location and secure the well-being of both girls.

“Officers are also providing regular support to the family.”

The Telegraph

dublin

A Somalian refugee who was attempting to smuggle more than €40,000 of cocaine into England via Dublin has been given a five and a half year sentence.

Ibrahim Mohamed (34), who had been granted asylum in the UK in 2001, said he was going to sell the drugs to people on the streets. He told gardai he had swallowed the 50 pellets containing the cocaine in Brazil of his own free will.

Mohamed apologised at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to Judge Mary Ellen Ring for his actions and said he had not told gardai at the time he had been forced to carry the drugs because he was scared.

Mohamed, of Hinckley Road, Leicester, England, pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at Dublin Airport on October 25, 2013.

Judge Ring imposed a five and a half year sentence and suspended the final three years. She noted he was a non national and that there was nothing to suggest any further involvement in the drugs trade.

Garda Mark Reay told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that Mohamed had travelled from San Paulo, Brazil, via Paris when he was stopped at Dublin Airport by a customs officer for a luggage search. A urine sample was also taken which detected cocaine.

Mohamed passed 12 pellets containing cocaine before being taken to hospital where he passed a further 38 with a total weight of 600 grams and a street value of €42,000.

He told gardai he had travelled to Brazil on holidays and had a contact in Africa who had put him in contact with a man from whom he bought the drugs. He had intended to get a ferry back to the UK and sell the drugs.

Mohamed fully cooperated with gardai and told them during interview he had not been forced to carry the drugs. He has four previous convictions and has been in custody since his arrest.

Mohamed told Judge Ring that he grew up in Somalia until the age of eight when his father was killed during tribal fighting. He lived in a number of countries before coming to the UK as an asylum seeker in 1998. He gained the status of Somalian refugee in 2001.

He worked in a food factory and has three children in the UK with a former partner.

Patrick McEntee SC, defending, that his client had done something stupid but had pleaded at the first opportunity and had been a model prisoner.

He asked the court to take into account his client’s “appalling background.” He said he was not aware if this conviction would have consequences for his status in the UK but said Mohamed would like to serve his sentence in England if possible.

Independent.ie

twinsTwin sisters have fled their home in Manchester to join ISIS fighters in Syria, it is feared.

The 16-year-old girls crept out of their bedrooms in the middle of the night, grabbed their passports and flew to Istanbul in Turkey.

By the time their parents found their beds empty at 8am last Thursday and called police, they were found to be on their way to Syria.

Counter-terrorism forces were then alerted when the girls contacted their family from Syria, where their elder brother is believed to be a jihadi fighter.

After 10 days of investigations, detectives are still struggling to track them down.

Greater Manchester Police said: ‘The girls flew from Manchester International Airport to Istanbul.

‘Since their departure the girls have been in contact with their family.

‘We are attempting to confirm their current location and secure the well-being of both girls.’

The family, of Somalian origin, is believed to have moved to Britain 10 years ago.

According to The Sun on Sunday, the strictly religious schoolgirls have told their family they are not coming home.

‘The family have been trying to persuade their daughters to come home but so far they have said they are happy to stay,’ a source told the paper.

Daily Mail

uk

ukA selfless teacher who saved the life of a seriously ill pupil by donating one of his kidneys has been hailed as a hero.

Ray Coe said he knew it was ‘the right thing to do’ after being told Alya Ahmed Ali, 13, was undergoing kidney dialysis and needed a life-saving transplant.

The 53-year-old is a special educational needs coordinator at the Royal Docks Community School in Custom House, east London, where Alya is a pupil.

She suffers from a condition called hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid in the brain, which has resulted in her having severe learning difficulties.

‘When we told Alya, she just gave me a big squeeze and her face lit up. It brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of that,’ he told the Newham Recorder.

‘For her parents, it’s not words that can express their gratitude. For them I have saved their daughter’s life. It’s like I am another family member now.’

The pair underwent a successful kidney transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in February and are both set to return to school after the Easter break.

Her father, Ahmed Ali, called Mr Coe a hero, adding he was ‘an amazing man’.

METRO

qad

qad

Home Office survey of people of Somali origin in Birmingham in 2005 found that 34 per cent said they had chewed khat in month before the interview.

The Home Secretary has rejected calls to rethink a planned ban on the drug khat, which is most commonly used by people of East African origin including a sizable Somali community in the West Midlands.

It follows warnings from MPs that there was no evidence the drug is harmful – and police will be forced to target specific immigrant communities if the drug is outlawed, risking “antagonism or friction”.

The West Midlands has the second highest concentration of people of Somali origin outside London, followed by Bristol, Greater Manchester and Leicester.

A Home Office survey of people of Somali origin in Birmingham in 2005 found that 34 per cent of the overall sample said they had chewed khat in the month before the interview.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee, which includes MPs David Winnick (Lab Walsall North) and Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North), had urged Ministers to rethink plans to classify khat as a class C drug, making the importation, possession and supply of khat a criminal offence.

But Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has now issued her response – and insisted she sees no reason to change her mind.

Khat is the common name for the leaves, stems and shoots of the plant of the species Catha edulis and is chewed in a social setting, typically at home, at parties and in khat cafes.

The plant is native to Africa and the Middle East and is cultivated commercially in Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen. An estimated 90,000 people use khat in the UK and its consumption is confined almost exclusively to the Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities.

Ms May presented changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to the Commons in October last year to criminalise khat, and these are expected to be approved in the near future.

The West Midlands conurbation was home to 8,517 people born in Somalia at the time of the 2011 census, the largest number of any built-up area outside greater London.

But the Home Affairs committee has warned that the decision to make khat illegal was not based on evidence that it causes medical or social harm – and the committee said it had not received any convincing evidence that the consumption of khat was harmful.

The MPs warned: “Controlling khat will create a crime which is only likely to be committed by members of certain specific communities, who already experience a degree of marginalisation within the UK.

“Enforcing that control will involve policing an activity that is carried out by a very small proportion of the population, all of whom belong to two or three diaspora communities, and a disproportionate number of whom are first-generation immigrants.

“To do this sensitively, in a way that does not create antagonism or friction between the police and the communities concerned, will present a very significant policing challenge.

“There is a high risk of alienating those who have until now pursued a perfectly lawful social activity, which could have a consequential impact on a wide range of police and law enforcement activity.”

But in a response, Ms May said: “I have made clear that the decision to ban khat was finely balanced.

“Having reviewed the Committee’s report, I am not persuaded to reconsider my decision which was made following an extensive consultation process and careful consideration, not least because of the breadth and complexity of the issues associated with khat in the UK and abroad.”

Birmingham Post

bristol somali girl

bristol somali girlFahma Mohamed’s incredible journey from Bristol schoolgirl to the global figurehead of the movement to end female genital mutilation (FGM) took another extraordinary step yesterday when she met United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

It is the start of the international campaign to end FGM, with Ban pledging that he will use the scope of the UN to promote the campaign.

The meeting came only one week after 17-year-old Fahma and other members of equality charity Integrate Bristol met education minister Michael Gove who promised to write to every headteacher in the country to draw attention to safeguarding guidelines and provide specific information about FGM.

City Academy pupil Fahma is one of nine girls in a Somali family that came to the UK when she was seven.
Her FGM petition on Change.org reached more than 234,000 signatures and led to the Guardian to lend their weight behind the campaign, which Ban praised as “creative and courageous”.

Bristol Culture

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A 17-year-old student is calling on Michael Gove to help end female genital mutilation in Britain by asking headteachers to train and inform teachers and parents about the horrors of the practice.

Fahma Mohamed is urging the education secretary to write to the leaders of all primary and secondary schools, urging them to flag up the dangers of female genital mutilation (FGM) before the summer holidays, when girls are at the greatest risk. An estimated 66,000 women and girls in the UK have been victims of FGM.

As the face of the Guardian’s new campaign to have FGM recognised as a key government priority, Mohamed, one of nine daughters in a Muslim Somali family that came to Britain when she was seven, believes Gove could do more to help curtail the barbaric practice.

She adds her voice to a broad coalition of global charities and campaigners who have joined with the Guardian to urge Gove to act. Supporters can add their names to a petition on the Change.orgcampaigning website. “If every single headteacher was given the right information, we could reach every single girl who is at risk of FGM,” said Fahma, from Bristol. “We could convince these families not to send their daughters abroad and help those girls at risk.”

According to government figures more than 20,000 British girls are thought to be at risk of being cut every year but, despite previous government promises to stop FGM, experts have warned that girls are not only still being taken abroad to be cut during the holiday “cutting season”, but are also being mutilated in Britain.

Medical groups, trade unions and human rights organisations estimate that there were 66,000 UK victims of FGM in the UK and more than 24,000 girls under the age of 15 were at risk. Victims can be as young as just a few weeks old.

Campaigners have called for better data on how many victims there are in the UK. The government responded on Wednesday night with an announcement that hospitals will begin keeping records of how many of their patients have undergone FGM.

The Guardian spoke to Manika, who was eight years old when she was mutilated in the Gambia. She is now 25 and lives in Scotland. “It really hurt. It’s like taking a knife and cutting someone’s flesh,” she said. After suffering physical complications, she is now terrified of having sex. “I can’t let my body move properly so that I can do it. I still have this at the back of my mind … it makes me feel scared.”

For her, the consequences are lifelong, and catastrophic. “After I saw the blade, I knew they would definitely hurt me,” she said. “This is just like you’re taking somebody’s life. It’s just like you’re taking a gun and shooting somebody to death. It’s just like it feels for me.”

Experts said some families, put off by expensive air travel, were clubbing together to pay for cutters to travel to Britain to mutilate their girls in “cutting parties”.

“We have found out that there is a lot of individuals carrying out this process in Scotland and it’s becoming quite popular for people from other countries to come here to get the process carried out,” said the MSP Margaret McCulloch, of the Holyrood equal opportunities committee.

Reports that “cutters” are at work, some operating out of expensive private clinics, have come from other major cities including London, Birmingham and Bristol, said Sarah McCulloch, from the charity Agency for Culture and Change Management. “Wherever communities [that practise FGM] are residing, it is a problem,” she said.

More than 140 million women and girls worldwide have suffered FGM, with up to 98% of girls mutilated in certain African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Traditionally seen as a rite of passage carried out to keep girls “pure” before marriage, it is condemned by campaigners as a means of controlling women’s fertility and sexual desire.

Despite three decades of legislation against FGM in Britain, there is yet to be a single prosecution. DCS Keith Niven, the Metropolitan police’s lead on child abuse, called on members of FGM-practising communities to come forward.

“I need information, I need people to tell me who it is that is committing these crimes,” he said.

The lack of prosecutions was a “failure” that has to be addressed, admitted the Home Office minister Norman Baker, speaking before the campaign’s launch.

“I’m hopeful we can defeat this in the UK and I think we are making progress. The next 12 months will be important. I’m pretty confident we will get some prosecutions,” added Baker, the government lead on FGM. New cases were being “seriously investigated” while some previously closed cases had been reopened, he added.

In France, activists accused Britain of cowardice, arguing that France had come close to eradicating FGM by carrying out controversial physical health checks on children and arresting parents if there was a suspicion that a girl had been mutilated.

Naana Otoo Oyortey, the executive director of Forward UK, which has been central to the FGM debate in Britain and has joined the Guardian’s campaign, said it could play a significant role in raising awareness of FGM. “We want the education secretary to come out and say work really needs to be done in school,” she said. “Why are we talking about prosecuting parents before we have even sent out information? There has to be a change of heart, and that has to start in schools.”

Fahma, who has seen at firsthand among friends and family the devastation that FGM can cause, said that eradicating FGM in a generation was achievable. “We are not going to be quiet. We are not going to shut up. It has taken us this long just to get people talking about it – we don’t care how long it takes to make people listen.”

Source: The Guardian

missing somali kid

missing somali kid

Police are appealing to trace two boys who have been missing since last night.13 year-old Mohamud Mohamud and 14 year-old Joe McFarland-Hills, have not been seen since yesterday evening.

Mohamud is a black male around 4ft 9ins and of slim build. He was wearing white trainers, brown jeans and a blue padded jacket. He was last seen at his home address in the NW1 area.

 

Joe is a white male who is of slim build and was wearing a blue jacket, a navy blue tracksuit, blue Nike trainers with red stripe and a black woolly hat. He was last seen at his home address in the NW3 area around 8pm.

The boys are believed to be together.

Source: ITV NEWS

Harrow Somali protestors

Harrow Somali protestors

More than 50 women from the Somali community took to the streets outside Harrow Civic Centre to protest against an adoption decision they say goes against their religious beliefs.

The women gathered outside Harrow Borough Council’s offices in Station Road as the child put up for adoption was due to go to its new family today.

According to the group, the child was due to be adopted by a lesbian couple, which protesters say is against their religious beliefs.

They say the mother and child’s religious beliefs and ethnicity have been ignored by placing the child in the home of the couple.

Protesters say the toddler was taken into care by social services just over a year and a half ago due to the mother’s health issues and was put up for adoption in last year.

They are calling for the council to delay the adoption to reconsider the move.

A Harrow Council spokesman said: “Adoption decisions are taken after lengthy and extremely thorough consideration of what is in the child’s best interests and we always strive to identify the best parents possible, and ensure a child is placed as early in life as possible. These are always difficult decisions.

“We have met Somali community representatives in this case and are happy to talk through their concerns.

“In addition the Somali community has offered to work with us on raising the profile of fostering and adoption in their community.”

warsan shire

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The inaugural Young Poet Laureate for London was today named as a Kenyan-born Somali woman who grew up in the capital.

Winner Warsan Shire, 24, said she would aim to inspire other youngsters as she was encouraged by her mentor, Jacob Sam-La Rose, at a Wembley youth centre after her family won asylum because of conflict in her war-torn homeland.

She said as Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy was due to announce her appointment in a ceremony at Parliament: “Had I not met him, I would not be doing what I am.”

Warsan will carry out her duties as part of the Spoke programme, commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation.

Source: Evening Standard

khat somalia

khat

By HELEN COLLIS — European imports of khat – a plant chewed as a stimulant – have rocketed recently with border officials seizing 1.3 tonnes of it in Geneva alone this year.

Swiss customs staff have documented the vast hauls at Geneva airport over the last two years and show that, despite being made illegal, smugglers often made no attempt to hide the plants. Whole suitcases have been neatly ram packed full of bundles of the plant and nothing else.

The amount of khat seized by Geneva customs officials has soared nearly ten-fold in two years, from 168.6kg in 2011, to 623.5kg in 2012, and to date this year, 1.3 tonnes.

Khat (Catha edulis) is a plant from Africa which is chewed as a stimulant, provoking a feeling of euphoria. It is popular in a number of countries, particularly in the Horn of Africa, and its use in Europe appears to have grown substantially in the last few years.

It has been banned in the US and most EU states, including Switzerland, with British Home Secretary Theresa May announcing last month she would enforce a UK ban on khat, effectively classifying it as a Class C drug.

According to GenevaLunch.com, relatively small amounts of the drug were in the past found mainly in traffickers using the forests and back roads around Geneva to cross the border.

The smallest amount they had seized was 1.48kg being brought into the country by a Swiss resident, but now the largest haul recorded is 95kg. The find was picked up in the freight area of the airport where it was heading for the United States, the news service said.

The traffickers in Switzerland tend to be Somalis who live in the UK although more recently, customs officials have reported a trend in traffickers from Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, according to the local news service.

The natural stimulant tends to be sold by the ‘box’ costing between £14 and £21 for around 200 grams. After the euphoric feeling subsides, it is said to be followed by a low, and subsequent passivity.

Among communities in Ethopia, Somalia and the Yemen, chewing the flowering plant has a long history as a social custom dating back thousands of years.

But the leaves contain cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant that can be  addictive. It has a molecular structure similar to that of amphetamines.

Consumed in excess, it is said to provoke hallucinations and psychological problems, although in 1980 the World Health Organization classified it as a drug of abuse that can produce ‘mild to moderate psychological dependence’ (less than tobacco or alcohol).

In the UK, Mrs May has pushed for its ban, despite advice against the move by an official advisory body.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in the UK reports that more than 2,500 tonnes, worth about £13.8m, was imported to the UK in 2011/12, bringing in £2.8m of tax revenues.

Khat ‘houses’ in Britain have been linked to terrorism, with police targeting those in Woolwich, London, amid fears they are recruiting grounds for Islamic extremists.

Mrs May’s proposed ban means khat will be treated as a class C drug, like anabolic steroids and ketamine.

Source: Mail Online

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