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London stabbing murders: 18-year-old arrested on suspicion of killing two young men on same night in Camden

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THE INDEPENDENT — An 18-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of murdering two young men who were stabbed to death within two hours of each other in north London.

Police confirmed the deaths of Abdikarim Hassan, 17, and Sadiq Aadam, 20, in Camden on Tuesday evening.

The suspect was also arrested on one count of grievous bodily harm after a 16-year-old boy was stabbed outside a block of flats. He remains in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Mr Hassan died in front of his mother after being stabbed in the chest at around 8.30pm. Mr Aadam died a short time later, with witnesses saying he had been slashed with a samurai sword.

Despite being given first aid by police, both men died at the scene of the stabbings.

Police say Mr Aadam and a friend were chased by a group of four men along an alleyway before the attack. The friend was unharmed.

Paul Considine, the detective chief inspector leading the investigation, said: “What is clear is that there were three violent attacks, by a group of men armed with knives, within about two hours of each other and within about a mile of each other.

“I need the public’s help to establish the exact circumstances in which two young men were murdered and another seriously injured, and to identify the people responsible.

“Today, I am asking local residents or those people who were out in the area that night to think back – and if they saw something that may help us, please get in contact. I can understand why some people may be reluctant or nervous about coming forward but we need your help. We will treat your information in the strictest of confidence.”

Mr Aadam is reportedly the third member of his family to die in a knife attack in five years. Mohamed Aadam, his brother, was murdered in the middle of the day in Camden Town in September, weeks before his 21st birthday, The Camden New Journal reported.

Their cousin, Mohamed Abdullahi, also known as “Lefty”, was murdered in June 2013 aged 20.

Mr Abdullahi’s father and the Aadam brothers’ uncle, Aydarus Ahmed, has campaigned to end knife violence since his son’s death.

“The frequency with which young men are prepared to take each others’ lives is shocking,” Mr Considine said. “We all have a part to play in preventing this. If you know something about these murders then please do your part in helping us with this investigation.

“One line of enquiry that we are urgently pursuing is that a blue van was seen in the area of the two murders. If you saw a vehicle that caused you concern due to how it was being driven or the people inside it then please get in touch with us.”

London has seen large rises in knife crime since then. Recorded incidents rose by 23 per cent in the capital during the 12-month period to the end of September last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Arts & Culture

Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri named young people’s laureate for London

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THE GUARDIAN — The 24-year-old Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri, who has been chosen as the new young people’s laureate for London, is hoping to spend her year in the role convincing young people “to see poetry as part of their every day, rather than in some dusty tome, or academic niche interest”.

Mehri, who has a background in biochemical science and wrote the poetry chapbook sugah. lump. prayer, has been shortlisted for this year’s Brunel African poetry prize and won last year’s Out-Spoken Page poetry prize. As laureate, Mehri hopes to encourage young people to voice their concerns and experiences through poetry.

The poet, from Kilburn in north-west London, was selected for the role by a panel of arts organisations and poets, and is, according to Spread the Word’s chair of trustees Rishi Dastidar, “an inspired choice” and a “poet to watch”.

“For young people to have an artist who is an ambassador for them, who brings their concerns, struggles and joys to those in authority, and the wider world, is vital,” Dastidar said. “Her poetry is precise and powerful, and rich with images that are haunting. She is not afraid to tackle the biggest of subjects, which, combined with her talent, is going to give the role a renewed sense of purpose and visibility.”
Mehri said she was exposed to oral forms of poetry by her family when growing up, but only began writing for publication around four years ago. “Over time I honed, or found, my voice, and that allowed me to feel comfortable, finding the poetic voice I felt was most suited to me. Obviously at the beginning you’re very much inspired by your influences,” she said. “I think the poetry I write is interested in questions or ideas around disruption or movement, whether it’s movement of people or places, movement between different ideas, between how things change over different generations, and in themes of migration and urban spaces.”

During her time in the role, Mehri will be looking to amplify the voices of Londoners aged between 13 and 25, “to let them lead conversations, to be as inspired by them as hopefully they can be inspired by me”. She will work with writer-development agency Spread the Word on youth-focused residencies across London, head a tour to six outer London boroughs, and co-host a special project for young London poets called The Young People’s Poetry Lab.

According to research from the National Literacy Trust, 84% of teachers who participated in a poetry programme for disadvantaged children in London schools over a five-year period said their writing skills had improved.

Outgoing young people’s laureate for London, Caleb Femi, said that “poetry has the potential to play a vital part in self-expression and artistic enjoyment in the lives of young people”.

“We need a dedicated person who can assist in integrating the joys of poetry into the everydayness of young Londoners,” he added. “We are extremely lucky to have a talented and dedicated poet such as Momtaza Mehri appointed as the new young people’s laureate for London. Her tenure is sure to be an extraordinary one.”

Mehri said that she wanted to: “Reach everybody, to allow people to see poetry as part of everyday living in London, and all the different poetry traditions that people bring to London.”

“I am very much aware of the fact that I came out of a very different poetic tradition, and what that’s brought to my writing of the English language. So I want to be aware of the fact that people are carrying different poetic influences, whether they consider themselves poets or not,” she said.

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Food

Bristol’s Somali Kitchen: Empowering women through cooking

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Suad Yusuf set up the Somali Kitchen in Bristol to bring women together to share recipes, promote healthy eating and to support and empower one another.

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UK

London lawyer acquitted of forcing daughter to undergo female genital mutilation

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LONDON, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A London solicitor accused of forcing his daughter to undergo female genital mutilation was acquitted on Thursday, increasing pressure on police and prosecutors who have yet to secure a conviction for FGM more than 30 years after it was outlawed.

The prosecution was only the second to be brought under FGM legislation introduced in 1985.

During a nine-day trial at London’s Central Criminal Court, the prosecution alleged that the defendant had twice arranged for someone to come to the family home to cut his daughter as a form of punishment when she was around nine years old.

But the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in an emotional testimony that the allegations were fabrications arising from a very acrimonious divorce.

He said his wife had repeatedly threatened to destroy him and had turned their children against him.

“I didn’t cut my daughter. I would never hurt my daughter,” he told the jury. “I would give my life for my children.”

A medical expert confirmed the girl’s genitalia had been cut but said the scars were unusual and could not say when the injuries occurred.

The 50-year-old lawyer, who comes from West Africa, said FGM was not practiced in his community and he had no idea who had cut his daughter. He was also cleared of three counts of child cruelty.

Police and prosecutors have faced mounting pressure in recent years to secure a conviction for FGM as part of broader efforts to eradicate the practice, which usually involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia.

An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM, which affects immigrant communities from various countries including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.

Politicians and campaigners, who believe thousands of girls in Britain are at risk of FGM, have said a successful prosecution would act as a deterrent.

Prosecutors were criticised over the first FGM trial in 2015 when a doctor was accused of performing FGM while treating a woman who had given birth. He was acquitted.

A leading obstetrician branded the trial a “ludicrous” travesty of justice which would leave doctors on labour wards terrified of touching women who had been subjected to FGM.

A second trial involving FGM – but brought under child cruelty laws – collapsed last month. (Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

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