While I was on my way to Cub Foods to buy gifts for Eid, I got a call from a friend about the killing of yet another young Somali man. On September 29, Abdihshakur Adan Hassan became the sixth Somali man to be murdered in the metro area since December 2007.
When I got to the Village Market Mall at 24th and Elliott in Minneapolis, more than one hundred members of the Somali community had already gathered to mourn the shooting of Abdishakur Adan Hassan. The throng of people was shopping at the mall on the eve of an important Islamic holiday, Eid-al Fitr or the fast-breaking festival that comes at the end of Ramadan.
Relatives of the murdered man wept as police cordoned off the street to bar people from the shooting scene. Hassan was shot in the chest at a parking lot at the back of the mall as he went into the mall for a haircut.
Just a week earlier, another Somali man was shot and killed in a similar manner in the Cedar Riverside area. Ahmednur Ali, a college student at Augsburg was shot to death as he left the Brian Coyle Center where he had finished his first day of work.
As the crowd huddled itself into small groups to console each other, Rahmo, an elderly woman of about 63 years, approached one of the groups and said that she was saddened there is no respite to the spate of killings.
“Ahmednur was killed just four days ago and now this one,” Rahmo said. Referring to the police, she added, “There is no one who is doing anything about it.”
Like Rahmo, many in the Somali community have voiced concern and frustration that in ten months since the strings of killings have begun, no one had been brought to justice. [A juvenile has now been arrested in relation to Ahmednur’s murder.] Many believe that this lack of prosecution has encouraged the killers to kill even more.
Rahmo raised her hands in the air praying, “Oh, Allah, save us from Somalis.”
A young lady who gave her name as Halima said she was angry and sad at the same time, because Hassan will not be able to enjoy the holiday with the rest of his family. “I am sad because we are supposed to be happy for the fast-breaking ceremony, but angry because of the death of Hassan.”
Halima did not agree with Rahmo on whether the police were doing enough. Halima said that the police alone cannot solve these murders. She added that the Somali community must help the police.
“The Somali community knows who is behind these murders, but it’s not ready to share that information with police,” said Halima. “So where do you expect the police to get answers from?”
This exchange between Rahmo and Halima is reminiscent of a larger one going on in the Somali community. Since the beginning of the year, six men of Somali origin have been killed.
Mohamed Wadi, a counselor at a Lincoln High School in Minneapolis said that he feels sad that such brutal killings are taking place among the Somalis in the Twin Cities.
“This is especially frightening, since we have been driven out of our country because of insecurity,” he said, “and it is disheartening to see the same thing happening here.”
Mohamed says that the community is shaken and feels insecure. He says that, as in Somalia, he avoids going to certain places. Mohamed admits that he doesn’t go to the Somali malls or other places such as Cedar Riverside area in the evenings for fear of being harmed. “What is more discouraging is that this is the United States of America,” he added.
Saeed Fahia, executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community of Minnesota, said that police are investigating the killings but urged that they should be more assertive by talking to the youth. “No solution will be possible without involving the youth,” Fahia said.
Additionally, Fahia suggested that more Somalis should be hired into the police force. He likened it to a similar wave of killings that occurred in San Diego, but could only be reversed after more Somalis joined the police force.
Abdirahman Muktar, youth manager of the Brian Coyle Center, advises that more resources should be sought to engage the youth. He said that the youth have a lot of time on their hands and they don’t know what to do with it. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” Muktar said.
Minnesota is home to the largest number of Somalis in the United States. They started arriving in Minnesota after civil broke out in Somalia following the overthrow of then-president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Abdifatah Shafat is a participant in the Citizen Journalism Workshop sponsored by the TC Daily Planet and EXCO, the Experimental College. He lives and works in Minneapolis.