Cardiff, Wales, July 14, 2012 – Members of the Somali community in
Cardiff have come together for the first time to fight extremism and
In a move described by Cardiff South and Penarth MP Alun Michael as a
“big step forward”, leaders announced the launch of a roadmap aimed at
breaking down the barriers in education and integration facing young
It comes almost nine months after two teenage boys from Cardiff were
arrested near the Somali-Kenya border after one of the boys’ fathers
traveled there to bring them home.
Abdirhman Haji Abdallah said he traveled to the African country in an
effort to “save” his 18-year-old son, Mohamed Abdirahman Mohamed, who he
believed had been “brainwashed” into joining terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
The boys were arrested by anti-terror police and deported to the UK,
where they were questioned and released without charge.
Mohamed’s uncle Eid Ali Ahmed, a consultant within the community who
helped design the roadmap, told delegates at a conference to mark its
launch he had “failed” his nephew. He said:
“My nephew, Mohamed, was somehow confused about Islam. I did not give
him what I wanted to give him. That is what triggered me to do this for
him and to make life better for every Somali child here in Cardiff.”
He said opening up youngsters’ access to education, improving their
language skills and ensuring they learn the “right” Islam could all help
He said that when Somali refugees first began arriving en masse in
Cardiff during the 1990s, many thought they could “change the world”.
But he said divisions had formed between different Somali community
groups, which had damaged the community as a whole and held back its
“Every community has divisions, but the way we do things, it has to be
changed,” he said. “Today I’m impressed to see so many young people
“Today we are stocktaking. Now we are saying we have to be the best –
that is my conviction and that is the conviction of many parents and
“It is a difficult process, but it is a process for everybody. Every
Somali in the world knows about Cardiff, knows that Cardiff and Wales
are very good friends to Somalis – but I think now we have to deliver.
“We can give you advice, we can tell you about our experience, but it is
for you young people to take on this initiative.”
Labour MP Mr Michael told delegates he was “proud” of the work that had
been done since October.
“We are all here because a young man ran away and was very fortunate to
only get to the border of Kenya and not to have been in the way of the
campaigns against Al-Shabaab,” he said.
“What happens normally after such an event is the community says, ‘this
is not something we want to deal with’.
“Often that person is pushed away from their family because the family
is angry, but it is at this time that we need to pull that young person
closer to us.
“We need to challenge their views, but we also need to pull them into
the family and into the community. That is exactly what happened in this
case. That is why I’m proud of your community.”
He said the community had taken a “big step forward” since the events of
October, but added its roadmap presented an “enormous challenge”. He
“If you tackle the big issues at the places where things are going wrong
and if you tackle the other side of the coin, which is being proud of
what is going right, then we will see the Somali community in Cardiff
taking the sort of place it could take and being a leadership community
in the city.”
South Wales Echo