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Think Out Loud

Somali Communities

Pete Springer/OPB

Two days after the bomb plot in Portland last week local Somalis gathered together for a “Peace and Unity” rally. At that rally Bashir Warsame, the executive director of the Somali Community Services Coalition said:

All Somali people are sad and I believe we want to show this as well as show that we want to increase support for our troubled youth.

Kayse Jama (who was on our show on Monday) spoke at the rally. He said:

This incident brought together all of us as a community.

Jama emphasized that the thousands of Somali-Americans who live here identify as Oregonians and as Americans. Somali leaders have been quick to point out that they condemn and reject violence, especially because many of the people who came here from Somalia were refugees fleeing violence in their homeland. Jama made reference to “at-risk” Somali youth and called on everyone present to do their part in making these young people feel like a part of the community at large. Portland is not alone in combating extremists who seek to entice Somali youth. Somali leaders in Minneapolis have been dealing with this issue for some time.

Somali-Americans are dealing with the stigma of terrorism on top of the recurring issue of piracy, but there are many success stories to come out of Somalia as well. In June, The Oregonian highlighted the story of a Somali teenager living happily in Beaverton, looking after her siblings and towards a bright future. She and Kayse Jama are just two of the many people who have come here, fleeing a war-torn country, to find new opportunities and a welcoming community.

Are you from Somalia? What was it like for you to come to Oregon? Do you see evidence of troubled Somali youth? What’s your experience?


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