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Columbus, Ohio

Dublin Ohio exhibit shows Somali immigrants integrated into central Ohio

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Among U.S. cities, Columbus is second only to Minneapolis in the number of Somali immigrants.

But how many of us really know our Somali neighbors?

The Dublin Arts Council has taken a step toward introducing 15 extraordinary young men and women from the area who are of Somalian descent.

In “Urur Dhex-Dhexaad Ah: Community In-Between,” the council presents color portraits of the subjects along with first-person video stories, written narratives, photographs, Somali artifacts and maps detailing the immigrants’ worldwide journeys.

The exhibit, which continues through Nov. 3, focuses on integration and represents the first in a series of three. In 2018, a council exhibit will address the subject of immigration and, in 2019, identity.

“The response thus far has been extremely positive,” council spokeswoman Janet Cooper said. “I’m so pleased to see the substantial amount of time that gallery visitors are spending with the portraits and the additional content.”

Organizing the exhibit and creating the 123-page book that documents the project were Qorsho Hassan, an educator and researcher in the Somali community, and Ruth M. Smith, program coordinator of the Online Master’s in Art Education program at Ohio State University.

The color photographs are straight-on portraits of the subjects, who are mostly in their 20s and identified only by first name. Most of the photos were shot by two recent central Ohio high-school graduates, Asia Nuur and Faduma Hasan, who participated in a workshop to learn their skills.

Most of the subjects are first- or second-generation immigrants, and each is remarkable in various ways.

For example:

• Nima Dahir, 21, is a graduate of Ohio State University who will be doing economics research at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

• Ilhan Dahir, 23 (sister of Nima), also an Ohio State graduate, is a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England studying refugees, migration, global governance and diplomacy.

• Hoda Hassan, 27, a medical student at the University of Toledo, is specializing in child psychiatry.

• Ahmed Shukri, 21, who moved to the United States when he was 4, became the first Somali deputy sheriff in Franklin County in 2015.

• Ibrahim A. Warsame, 27, attended medical school at the University of Toledo and is now an anesthesiologist.

In their videos and narratives, all 15 discuss the challenges of assimilating into American society, the devotion they feel to the United States as well as Somalia, and the rigorous emphasis their parents put on education.

“My parents decided to move to the United States because they saw this as the place that their kids would have the greatest chance of achieving whatever it was that we could or wanted to achieve,” Ilhan says. “The American dream, or this idea that you can accomplish anything in this country, isn’t really theoretical to them. It’s very practical, and it’s very real.”

Some of the subjects address what life was like in the United States just after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“After 9/11, my mom thought I’d be safer if I just took my head scarf off, at least for a while, because we weren’t sure what was going on at the time,” Hoda says. “That was when I really first experienced questions about everything and not really understanding who I was because I didn’t look like the person I was the day before and I wasn’t wearing a scarf. I think that was the first time I questioned everything.”

Many of the the Somalis featured in the exhibit display maturity beyond their years. The 18-year-old young man known as Chowder the Poet — who, with Isiah (I.C.) Chillous, created a spoken-word video that runs in the room containing the artifacts — talked about education.

“In school, all you get, in my view, is information,” he said. “You don’t really get knowledge. Knowledge is the whole application of that information — understanding where it goes, being wise about certain things and understanding certain scenarios.

“I think a lot of my knowledge, if I have any, comes from my life, my background — and a little bit of it comes from school. Most of it comes from my parents, where I grew up, my environment, America and back home.”

In addition to the portraits, the exhibit includes traditional Somali fabrics and artifacts, including currency, tapestries, a drum and carved utensils.

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Columbus, Ohio

Central Ohio’s Somali community mourns deadly attack

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Somalis who call Central Ohio home are mourning an attack considered the deadliest in their native country.

On Saturday, a truck bomb killed more than 300 people in the capital city of Mogadishu.

Somali-Americans living in Central Ohio went to a north Columbus mosque with a clear message on the violence.

“Pray for the victims and number two, condemn with the strongest term what happened in Mogadishu,” explained Horsed Nooh, director of the Abubakar Assidiq Islamic Center.

For Nooh, Saturday’s deadly attack strikes close to home.

“I lost some family members. I lost some friends. Many of them were the brightest minds from Columbus. They grew up here, they graduated from these schools and they went back to contribute.”

Sharif-Ali Hashim also has loved ones in the African capital city. He said while they’re physically fine, emotionally they are hurting.

“My brothers, I have my sisters, relatives, friends, I talked with them and everybody and some of them they were in tears,” said Hashim.

Hashim explained people are turning to their faith to comfort their pain.

“Without faith, you cannot move.”

Currently, members of Central Ohio’s Somali community are working on a fundraiser to help attack victims and their families.

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Columbus, Ohio

Central Ohio Somali community fears being targeted after teen’s murder

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BLACKLICK (WCMH) — Was a local teen murdered because he’s Somalian? The Council for American-Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR, said in the wake of the shooting, many in the Somali community fear they’re being targeted.

Police haven’t ruled 15-year-old Mohamed Abdulkadir’s death a hate crime, but CAIR said after the shooting, many Somali families are worried they’ll be attacked because of their ethnicity.

NBC4 spoke with a Somali family in the neighborhood where the shooting happened. They said being Somalian had nothing to do with Abdulkadir’s death.

Suheyb Ahmed, 13, is having a hard time coping with the loss of his life-long friend.

“I was like, ‘It’s not possible, he can’t be dead. Like, it was somebody else. Maybe they were just confused,’” he said.

Suheyb and his mother Khadra didn’t want to show their faces on camera. They said Abdulkadir, who lived across the street, was like family.

“We were really close friends. He lives right there. We would always go play soccer or football or basketball together,” said Suheyb.

The Ahmed’s have lived in the Blacklick neighborhood for 14 years.

“I love this neighborhood and we don’t have any problems,” said Khadra.

They said they’ve never felt targeted at home or school.

“This issue is not for hate or racist, this is something came from the kids. We feel safe,” said Khadra.

Romin Iqbal, with CAIR Columbus said Somali families he spoke with in the neighborhood don’t feel the same.

”There’s a lot of fear in the community, in the Somali community,” said Iqbal.

He said they’re scared and that another Somali student was threatened after the shooting.

“I’ve been told that parents are not letting their children go outside and play in the park outside their homes,” said Iqbal.

Iqbal said he’s forwarded the information he’s gathered to the FBI and police.

Suheyb just started 8th grade. He said he loves school. Life just won’t be the same without Abdulkadir.

“He was at the wrong place wrong time,” he said.

The Licking Heights School District said CAIR told it about the alleged threat against a student Tuesday.

It said it will continue to work with police and said dozens of students have been interviewed as part of the ongoing investigation.

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Columbus, Ohio

Services held at mosque for teen student murdered in drive-by shooting

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BLACKLICK, Ohio — The Waggoner Grove subdivision was quieter Tuesday evening than it was 24 hours after a 15-year-old was gunned down in his neighbor’s driveway. That’s because neighbors, friends, and family were attending the service for Mohamed Abdulkadir at a mosque on Mock Road at 5 p.m.

The boy’s nickname was “Honey Bun” and friends remember him as a good kid who liked to be around family and play games.

One hundred yards from the crime scene where Abdulkadir’s body lay dead underneath a sheet Monday is a church where the teen used to go to play basketball.

Pastors at Eastpointe Christian Church remember seeing Abdulkair on the court with his friends. “He was fun. A decent ball player and very respectful,” said family pastor Andre Norman. “We want to be a light to this community. We know that God has called us not only to this community but make disciples of all nations.”

The neighborhood has a lot of children. Many of the families in the area are refugees from Somalia. Abdi Farah knew the victim and said he was a fun loving kid who wasn’t supposed to die that day. “For sure I want to see an arrest. Whoever did this needs to pay for it,” said Farah.

The homeowner who lives in the house where the drive-by happened on Churchside Chase Drive said she is afraid for her six children. She said her 17-year-old son had been suspended earlier in the day after a fight at the school. Two other boys were also suspended she said for ten days. “It was a fight,” said Farah. “I don’t know why people bring guns to fights.”

Pastor Dan Stoffer said their church wants to be a bridge to the Somali community who may be feeling isolated and afraid. “We want to do whatever we can to help in the midst of this tragedy, to love on the family, take care of the kids, just kind of be that center of hope and love for our community,” said Stoffer.

The district issued a written statement from Supt. Philip Wagner:

It has been a difficult day for the school district as we are working together to ensure our students and staff are supported during this time. Our hearts especially go out to the family impacted by this tragedy.

Today and for the next few days, we will have additional counselors and teachers available at all school buildings for students and staff who are grieving. Additionally, we will continue to work to find ways for students to feel safe and supported at school. We want all to know that our first priority is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all students to learn.

As with all tragedies, we could use your help. If you have any information about the events surrounding yesterday afternoon or any issues that have developed due to the events, please report them to the confidential tipline, Safer Ohio at (844) 723-3764. We have been working with the Columbus Police department to share information that assists with their investigation.

Finally, all Licking Heights events scheduled for Tuesday, September 19, 2017 for all schools will remain as scheduled. While this is a difficult time for our school district, we feel the reinforcement of a sense of normalcy is beneficial for our students. Furthermore, there will be an increased staff and security presence at school events as a means of support for all of our attendees.

Philip H. Wagner, Ph.D.

So far police aren’t talking about any suspects or motive in the case. This is the 95th Homicide of 2017 in Columbus.

The family has started a Go Fund Me account for burial expenses.

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