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Somalia demands Denmark releases mentally ill refugee in return for repatriation deal

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Somalia’s ambassador to the EU has tied an agreement with Denmark on rejected asylum seekers to the long-standing and controversial case of a Somali refugee detained at a Danish psychiatric unit since 2001.

The north east African country wants Denmark to release 36-year-old Abdulle Ahmed as a condition of entering talks on accepting Somalian asylum seekers rejected by Denmark, reports the Politiken newspaper.

Ali Faqi, Somalia’s ambassador to the EU, made the demand during a 20-minute meeting with the Danish ambassador in Belgium at the beginning of this month, according to the report.

Somalia has previously confirmed that no agreement on forced repatriations exists between it and Denmark.

Denmark’s government has stated that it wants to be able to forcibly repatriate Somalians whose claims for asylum are rejected. That wish now appears to have been attached to the fate of Abdulle Ahmed.

“I have literally said to the Danish ambassador that there will be no agreement on refugees being returned to Somalia until Abdulle’s situation is resolved,” Faqi told Politiken.

Louise Bang Jespersen, Denmark’s ambassador in Belgium, confirmed to the newspaper the meeting had taken place along with its subject matter.

Abdulle Ahmed is a psychiatric patient who has been held at the Sikringen institution for legally detained mental health patients for the last 16 years.

Ahmed came to Denmark as a 12-year old in 1992, and started receiving treatment for psychiatric conditions at the age of 15, reports Politiken.

In 2001, when he was 20, he was given a custodial sentence at a psychiatric unit for assault against a social carer. After a second assault, Ahmed was transferred to the high-security Sikringen institution, where he has remained until today.

Some of Denmark’s most dangerous and unstable prisoners are detained at Sikringen. Transfer to the institution requires a statement that the prisoner is dangerous – known as a farlighedsdekret – due to their condition.

Such a statement regarding Abdulle Ahmed was issued by the Ministry of Justice on the recommendation of doctors in 2001, after he was diagnosed with psychosis and schizophrenia. But although the sentence for psychiatric treatment was lifted by Holbæk Court in 2009, the ministry did not withdraw its statement, according to Politiken’s report.

A message painted on to the path in front of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue in an act of vandalism on Wednesday morning has been reported to refer to Ahmed.

The family of the 36-year-old psychiatric patient, as well as the ‘Free Adbulle’ movement calling for his release, told the Nordjyske newspaper in a joint statement on Thursday that they condemned the act of vandalism.

“There must be no doubt about the intentions of Ahmed Abdulle’s family and the Free Abdulle movement – to help Abdulle and to win his freedom. There have been several legal demonstrations calling for Abdulle’s release with several hundred participants. There has never been trouble, vandalism or anything like that,” wrote Ahmed’s brother Mohamud Ahmed.

Ahmed’s case is already a diplomatic issue between the two countries. Faqi has previously demanded him to be handed over to Somalia and hired a Danish lawyer to work for his release. The Danish authorities have so far not shown any desire to meet the Somalian demands.

The 36-year-old’s parents say that their son is being held illegally for a treatment that is not effective, and the case has been discussed on repeated occasions in the Danish media as well as in the Somalian diaspora in Europe.

The case has also been criticised by a parliamentary ombudsman, the Council of Europe’s torture committee and Amnesty International, reports Nordjyske.

Documentation has shown that Ahmed has been given anti psychosis medicines in far greater amounts than recommended doses and has received electroshock therapy on several occasions, according to Politiken’s report.

A migration studies expert told Politiken that the demands mixing together two separate issues represented a “merchant mentality” commonly seen when countries attempt to make deals on repatriation.

“This is an unpleasant example of the merchant mentality that seems to characterise many of the repatriation arrangements that are made – not just for Denmark, but also on a European level,” Martin Lemberg-Pedersen of Aalborg University told Politiken.

Denmark’s Ministry of Justice declined to comment on the case, citing that it could not comment on individual cases.

The Ministry of Immigration wrote in a written message that it was seeking an agreement on rejected asylum seekers with Somalia and that negotiations were continuing in private at Somalia’s request.

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Diaspora

Somali Man charged the deaths of 4 in fatal I-55 accident

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STAUTON, IL – A Colorado truck driver has been charged following an investigation into a multi-vehicle accident that killed 4 people and injured 11 others. Mohamed Jama, 54, of Greeley, Colorado, turned himself in to the Madison County Jail Monday.

The accident happened on southbound I-55 in Madison County on November 21, 2017.

The fatal accident killed 2 sisters, Madisen and Hailey Bertels and a friend, Tori Carroll, and an out of state woman, Vivian Vu in another vehicle.

Authorities say the accident occurred when a tractor-trailer driven by Mohamed Jama failed to slow down and stop for cars in front of him in a construction zone.

By the time it was all over, 7 vehicles were damaged and the people inside them injured or killed.

The sisters attended high school in Staunton.

The deaths deeply touched Staunton where people knew the young women or knew people who were their friends. Many in town were still grieving the loss. Matthew Batson said, “I’ll hear stories about them all the time, even though it’s been five months? Yes, it’s a lasting effect.”

The Madison County State`s Attorney Tom Gibbon said if convicted of all the crimes Mohamed Jama could spend the rest of his life in prison. With summer coming on and more construction zone Gibbons says there`s a warning for all of us.

“Each of us out there in our cars we really need to pay attention, watch out, slow down you never want to see something like this to happen again it so terrible for all the victim I’m sure that no person would want to be the cause of something like this.”

Jama is charged with 4 counts of reckless homicide and 8 counts of reckless driving. He`s being held in the Madison County Jail without bond.

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Books

CANADA: Edmonton author aims to boost diversity in children’s book publishing

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EDMONTON—Two years ago Rahma Mohamed’s then four-year-old daughter saw an Elsa costume, complete with blond braids, and pleaded with her mother to buy it so she would look “beautiful.”

That’s when Mohamed decided her kids needed more cultural inspiration than the blond princess from Frozen.

After a year of work, the first-time author published Muhima’s Quest, a children’s book that tells the story of a young African-America Muslim girl who wakes up on her 10th birthday and goes on a journey.

Now, Mohamed’s at work on her second book, which is due out at the end of the month. She’s on a journey of her own, she said, to boost diversity in children’s publishing.

“I wanted to create a character who had African descent and is a Muslim in a children’s book because I just found out that there were none that were available in the mainstream,” she said.

Her books show kids it’s OK to be different, she said. Take her first book: some Muslims don’t celebrate birthdays, she explains, and the little girl in the book struggles with her faith and questions why she doesn’t celebrate like her classmates do.

“The overall message is that we do things differently, but that part is what makes us beautiful,” Mohamed said.

She said she felt it necessary for her kids to see themselves represented in the books they read in order to “enhance their self-confidence, as well as bolster their sense of pride.”

Mohamed, who writes under the pen name Rahma Rodaah, self-published her first book and since last summer, has sold 200 copies locally.

“It does take a lot of resources and you have to self-finance, but I believe in the end it’s worth it,” she said.

She hopes to go bigger with her second book, which focuses on the universal concept of sibling rivalry, and features a young girl who plans on selling her little brother because she believes he is getting all the attention.

“My overall goal is to portray Muslim Africans who are basically a normal family.”

Mohamed says her previous book was well-received by parents at readings she had done at public libraries and schools.

“Most of them who are Muslims really loved that the kids could identify with the characters,” she said.

The books also acted as a conversation starter for non-Muslim families, she said.

She said, for her, the most exciting part of the journey is knowing that she is making a difference in shaping the minds of young Black Muslims.

“We are underrepresented, misunderstood and mostly mischaracterized. It is time we paint a different picture.”

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Minnesota

When radicalization lured two Somali teenagers … from Norway

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Mukhtar Ibrahim

In October 2013, two Somali teenage girls named Ayan and Leila shocked their parents by running away to join ISIS in Syria. Their radicalization story is unusual in that it happened in Norway.

Acclaimed Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad spent years researching what happened. Now her book, “Two Sisters: Into the Syrian Jihad” is available in the United States.

Seierstad, who discusses her book Monday night at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, said she didn’t go looking for the story.

“The story actually came to me,” she said. “It was the father of the girls who actually wanted the story to be written.”

His name is Sadiq, a Somali man who worked for years to bring his family to Norway. He hoped for a better life. He thought things were going well, then everything collapsed when Ayan and Leila disappeared.

When the girls left home, their parents were in shock, Seierstad said. “They hadn’t understood what was this about. Why? And then as months went by and they got to learn more about radicalization, they realized that all the signs had been there. That the girls were like a textbook case of radicalization. And he [Sadiq] wanted the book to be written to warn others, to tell this story to warn other parents.”

It is a perplexing story. Ayan and Leila were bright, and opinionated. They didn’t put up with being pushed around.

“And that is somehow part of why they left, in their logic,” said Seierstad, adding that the girls were convinced Syria and ISIS offered a chance of eternal life.

“They believed that life here and now is not real life. Real life happens after death. And this life is only important as a test. So the better your score, the better you behave in this life, the better position you will have in heaven for eternity. So isn’t that better?”

Seierstad is known for her in-depth reporting. Her book “One of Us,” about Anders Breivik, the gunman who killed 77 people in Norway’s worst terror attack, is an international best-seller.

When published in Norway Seierstad said, “Two Sisters” became the top-selling book for two years running. What pleases her most is the breadth of her readership. She gets email from young Somali girls, and also from government officials who want to prevent future radicalization.

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