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article imageSomali-Canadians condemn the Westgate mall terror attack Special

By Farid Abdulhamid     Oct 12, 2013 in World
Toronto - On Thursday, October 3, 2013, Somali-Canadians converged in large numbers at Toronto’s Holiday Inn at 600 Dixon Road to condemn the Westgate mall terror attack in Kenya that claimed 67 innocent lives and left hundreds of civilians with gunshot wounds.
The historic public event was also an opportunity for participants to express their condolences to the bereaved, pray for the victims of the heinous and barbaric attack as well as console the hundreds of survivors who suffered traumatic physical and mental injuries. More importantly, Somali-Canadians extended their unwavering solidarity and support for the people and Government of Kenya. Over the last two decades, the East African economic powerhouse has hosted close to one million Somali refugees fleeing the mayhem in the war-ravaged nation as well as offering educational, business and economic opportunities to thousands of Somalis who have settled in Kenya’s urban centres.
Eastleigh, a sprawling Nairobi suburb, is a thriving hub that is home to a large Somali business community engaging in trade and merchandise that range from electronics to apparel, to money transfer, general commodities and even real estate development. But Kenyan authorities have also raised concerns the area maybe a recruiting ground for armed militants whose bloody violence has wrecked havoc on Nairobi streets and throughout North Eastern Kenya, a region largely inhabited by ethnic Kenyan Somalis.
Somali-Canadians were outraged by the Westgate mall terror attack in Nairobi  Kenya.
Somali-Canadians were outraged by the Westgate mall terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Apart from Kenyan victims, other nationalities were also affected by the barbaric attack on Westgate. Two Canadians, Annemarie Desloges, a diplomat who worked at the Canadian embassy and Naguib Damji, a businessman from Vancouver were among those killed while Desloges’s husband, Robert Munk, escaped with injuries. Toronto-born teens, Somali-Canadian sisters, Fardosa Abdi, 17, and Dheeman Abdi, 16, were caught in the September 21, senseless shooting. At the time of the attack, both Fardosa and Dheeman were shopping at the upscale Mall in Nairobi’s Westlands when the terrorists struck.
Fardosa was critically wounded suffering massive injuries to her legs after the mall attackers opened fire and hurled a grenade at the teen sisters. Fardosa had to undergo a series of surgeries at Nairobi’s Aga Khan Hospital to reconstruct her legs while Dheeman who suffered gunshot wounds to her hand and leg was treated and released. Since Kenyan hospitals could not provide advanced treatment for Fardosa, the teen sisters were airlifted back home to Toronto, Canada, on an air ambulance. Fardosa is still undergoing treatment at the Sunnybrook hospital where doctors are trying to save her legs.
MC Hassan  Karate  addressing the public during the historic United Against Terror event in Toronto.
MC Hassan "Karate" addressing the public during the historic United Against Terror event in Toronto.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack saying it was in retaliation to Kenya’s incursions into southern Somalia where the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) last year drove the militants from their Kismayu stronghold. But Kenyan government officials and regional security analysts maintain that long before Kenya acted, the militants had carried out a spate of cross-border attacks killing and maiming civilians mostly in the North Eastern region while Nairobi was also targeted a number of times.
In one grisly incident, the popular Kamukunji MP, Yusuf Hassan, was targeted last year in a grenade attack while leaving a Nairobi mosque. He sustained serious injuries to his legs. Five civilians including a child died in that incident.
Toronto area MPs, Mike Sullivan (York South-Weston) and Dr. Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North) were among the Federal politicians who joined the Somali-Canadian community to condemn the Westgate Mall terror attack. Also in attendance was Mr. Ahmed Hussen, Toronto area lawyer and President of the Canadian Somali Congress.
Event organizer, Hassan Abdillahi Omar “Karate” the anchor of the popular Toronto-based, Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM called upon his community to take a hard stance against terrorism.
“Somali-Canadians cannot sit back and watch the bloodletting by militants bent on destabilizing Kenya and its Horn of Africa neighbours. It is time we send a strong message to condemn terrorism in Kenya and throughout the world” he said.
Mr. Hassan “Karate” further appealed to Somali-Canadians to forge a united front in the fight against terror.
“The event is the first of its kind in our community. It has brought together all those who stand united against terrorism not just in Kenya but everywhere. We need to demonstrate to the world and our Kenyan brothers and sisters that our community does not condone terrorism. We need to express our solid support for the Kenyan Government in its ongoing war against terrorism. It is also important that we show our solidarity with the people of Kenya who have been traumatized by Al-Shabaab’s Westgate terror attack and other similar attacks that have taken place in that country” said Hassan “Karate.”
Mr. Ahmed Hussen  Toronto area lawyer and President of the Canadian Somali Congress addressing the p...
Mr. Ahmed Hussen, Toronto area lawyer and President of the Canadian Somali Congress addressing the public during the United Against Terror event.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Mr. Ahmed Hussen, the President of Canadian Somali Congress said it was extremely important for the community to show solidarity with the individuals and families affected by the Westgate attack.
“As Somali-Canadians, we came out to extend our condolences to all the families who lost loved ones including the families of the two Canadians who died in the terror attack. It was also a moment for us to express our solidarity with all the bereaved families as well as those who sustained injuries, including the two young Canadians from our community who were wounded in the attack. More importantly, we came out to condemn the terror attack” said Mr. Hussen.
Sheikh Sadiq Ahmed Khalif addressing the public during the Toronto anti-terror event. Somali religio...
Sheikh Sadiq Ahmed Khalif addressing the public during the Toronto anti-terror event. Somali religious scholars have condemned the Westgate attack.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
In the ongoing fight against terror, Hodan Ahmed Jama, a Toronto-based Somali-Canadian observed that Al-Shabaab can easily be defeated with the support and direct involvement of the people.
"The best way to defeat Al-Shabaab is to empower local communities and regional governments that are closer to the people. This will allow people to have a stake at fighting terrorism."
Ubah Abshir, a community activist, says that Somalis and Muslims must condemn terror and work in solidarity with Somalia’s neighbours.
“Al Shabaab is the biggest enemy of entire humanity. In their selfish ego to cause mayhem, the lives of innocent civilians are irrelevant. They strike at their victims indiscriminately regardless of age, race, color, religious belief or gender. All Muslims, especially Somalis must condemn Al -Shabaab's cowardly and sickly attack. Also, we must stand with our neighboring countries, such as Kenya and Ethiopia in order to eliminate Al Shabaab” she said.
When it comes to combating terror, Ubah also holds the view that Somalia’s regional governments should take the lead.
“As Hodan said, the international community must support regional administrations in the fight against terror. On daily basis, it is the regional states and their communities that are in the frontline in the ongoing war against Al-Shabaab” said Ubah.
Youth activist  Nawal Isse  addressing the public during the Toronto anti-terror event.
Youth activist, Nawal Isse, addressing the public during the Toronto anti-terror event.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Activists Nawal Isse (left) and Ubah Abshir  were among the hundreds of Canadians who turned out to ...
Activists Nawal Isse (left) and Ubah Abshir, were among the hundreds of Canadians who turned out to condemn the Westgate mall terror attack.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Mr. Mohamed Dubat, a long time Somali-Canadian community leader, heaped praise on organizer Hassan “Karate” and his organizing team for bringing together the Somali public and Canadian politicians in the historic anti-terror event.
“What happened in Kenya was shocking and horrible and the entire humanity is against it. As Somali-Canadians, we have taken a hard stance against terrorism. The Toronto United Against Terror event was attended by Canadians of all walks of life including Federal, Provincial and Municipal politicians who joined our Somali-Canadian community to condemn Al-Shabaab. It received the attention of both the Federal government and opposition politicians. We thank Mr. Hassan “Karate and his team for a job well done” he said.
The community leader hailed the Canadian media for covering the event adding that Somali-Canadians would like to see similar mobilization in western countries with large Somali populations.
“We are pleased that the public meeting to condemn Al-Shabaab’s terror received extensive media coverage with television crew, radio broadcasters and news writers all present to convey our anti-terror message to the Canadian public. We would like all Somali diaspora communities in Europe and across North America to follow suit and join the anti-terror platform. We are sharing the Toronto experience across the borders and we would like to see the Somali anti-terror movement grow globally” said Mr. Dubat.
Speaker Mohamed Hassan (above) was personally affected by the Westgate tragedy. He is an uncle to te...
Speaker Mohamed Hassan (above) was personally affected by the Westgate tragedy. He is an uncle to teen sisters, Fardosa Abdi, 17, and Dheeman Abdi, 16, who were wounded in the terror attack.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Messrs Jibril Mohamud (middle)   Hassan  Karate (right) and Mahdi speaking to the media.
Messrs Jibril Mohamud (middle), Hassan "Karate"(right) and Mahdi speaking to the media.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Mr. Said Dhafuuje, a Somali father based in Toronto, spoke at length to the Digital Journal. He was among the many Somali-Canadians who came out to condemn terrorism.
“We are outraged by what happened in Kenya and saddened by the mass killing of innocent Kenyan civilians and victims from many other nationalities. Al-Shabaab does not represent us and we would always stand united against their terror acts. The terrorists’ objective was to drive a wedge between Somalis and Kenyans. They have failed because Kenyans and Somalis are far more united than ever before. Al-Shabaab are extremely unpopular in Somalia and the only way they can solicit support for their barbaric acts is to create a backlash against our people. They cannot divide us and we would never fall for their dirty tricks” he said.
According to Said Dhafuuje, Somali-Canadians are ready to defend their adopted homeland against any potential terror attacks.
“Even in the Diaspora, Al-Shabaab’s attempts to recruit vulnerable young Canadian men into their ranks are a tactic aimed at creating more havoc for our people such as racial profiling. They are always looking for ways to force us into their corner. We would like Canadians authorities to know that our community and mosques have nothing to do with Al-Shabaab. As a people, we have sought a safe haven in Canada and we would not allow terrorists to destabilize our adopted home. We would always stand with Canada to confront any potential terror threats on Canadian soil or anywhere else in the world.”
Community leaders and guest speakers take their seats  during the historic event.
Community leaders and guest speakers take their seats during the historic event.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Participants listening to the proceedings during the United Against Terror public event.
Participants listening to the proceedings during the United Against Terror public event.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
With the Toronto event, Mr. Dhafuuje said that the community has initiated an important process – that of creating awareness on the dangers posed by terrorism while rallying Somali-Canadians to condemn such acts. On fighting terror inside Somalia, Mr. Said concurred with Hodan Ahmed and Ubah Abshir emphasizing that localized, state-based action is critical to halting Somalia’s deadly insurgency.
“The best the international community can do is to empower Somalia’s regional states to combat Al-Shabaab by improving their security forces and fighting capability. If given the necessary resources, local communities and their regional governments can help crush terrorism in no time. We are proposing a model that will take the war to Al-Shabaab region by region. This means that regional states in Somalia should take the lead in the fight against terror” concluded Said Dhafuuje.
Speakers at the Toronto event made it clear that terrorism has no place in Islam. They lambasted the perverted view of militants who in the name of religion, kill and maim innocent civilians to advance their violent ideology. Somali-Canadians have vowed to stand united against terrorism and the overwhelming majority support Kenya’s efforts in fighting terror. Event participants have called upon Kenya and her East African neighbours to step up the war on terror and to eradicate the menace throughout the region.
Mr. Jibril Mohamud speaking to the media.
Mr. Jibril Mohamud speaking to the media.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Nawal Isse and Ubah Abshir join fellow Canadians at the anti-terror event in Toronto.
Nawal Isse and Ubah Abshir join fellow Canadians at the anti-terror event in Toronto.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Youth activist  Nawal Isse  speaking at the Toronto event.
Youth activist, Nawal Isse, speaking at the Toronto event.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Mr. Faisal Hassan (middle)  Constituency Assistant at Mike Sullivan  MP for York South-Weston speaki...
Mr. Faisal Hassan (middle), Constituency Assistant at Mike Sullivan, MP for York South-Weston speaking to attendees at the anti-terror event.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
October 3  2013 United Against Terror public event.
October 3, 2013 United Against Terror public event.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
A large crowd turned out at the Toronto event to condemn terror attacks in Kenya and globally.
A large crowd turned out at the Toronto event to condemn terror attacks in Kenya and globally.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Somali-Canadians have demonstrated their unwavering support for the people and Government of Kenya i...
Somali-Canadians have demonstrated their unwavering support for the people and Government of Kenya in the wake of Westgate mall terror attack.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Somali-Canadians have vowed to stand united against terrorism.
Somali-Canadians have vowed to stand united against terrorism.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Participants at the United Against Terror public event.
Participants at the United Against Terror public event.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
Somali-Canadians turned out in large numbers to condemn the Westgate terror attack.
Somali-Canadians turned out in large numbers to condemn the Westgate terror attack.
Photo: Ogaal Radio, 88.9FM
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