Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses a packed crowd in Minneapolis

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud spoke to an almost packed auditorium Thursday night time on the Minneapolis Conference Middle, the place attendees cheered and waved blue Somali flags.

Hassan appeared on stage simply earlier than 11pm and spoke to round 300 neighborhood members for round 40 minutes. The president spoke in Somali with out an English translator.

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Anisa Ahmed, who attended the speech, has lived in Minneapolis since she was three. She mentioned she has solely lately develop into extra related to Somali politics. Listening to Hassan encourage Somali youth to someday return to Somali and provides again to their homeland was inspiring, Anisa mentioned.

The president additionally spoke about curbing the militant group al-Shabaab in Somalia.

“It is not an Islamic movement,” Anisa mentioned of al-Shabaab. “It has nothing to do with our religion. He found the tactics to stop them.”

Minneapolis resident Farhiyo Mohamed mentioned many Somalis are afraid to go to residence due to safety considerations.

“In the last six months, he has achieved so much in terms of fighting terrorism,” Farhiyo mentioned after listening to Hassan communicate. “It’s not just a fight over weapons, but also a fight over ideology. He’s energized the whole country.”

This system started at 20:30 with a gap speech, a recitation from the Koran and the Somali nationwide anthem.

Some occasion organizers, Somali authorities officers and local people leaders gave transient speeches thanking the president for his go to and for condemning al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab is al-Qaeda’s largest, wealthiest and deadliest affiliate, the US State Division reported in March.

Congressman Ilhan Omar got here with Hassan and gave a brief speech. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Metropolis Councilman Jamal Osman additionally attended the occasion. Frey spoke briefly and used partial Somali.

“It’s a great honor to have you here in Minneapolis,” Frey informed Hassan. “This really should be a home away from home. This is your town. This is our town.”

Some individuals wore shiny blue baseball caps symbolizing the Somali flag. A person entered with the flag tied round his neck like a cape.

Singers and dancers from a troupe with the Somali Museum of Minnesota additionally carried out earlier than the president’s arrival.

Minneapolis resident Ali Elmi mentioned he attended the occasion to help the president and the Somali authorities due to their means to curb al-Shabaab’s affect.

“Part of my family, where they live, was controlled by the al-Shabaab terrorists. Now they don’t control it anymore,” Ali mentioned. “I’m fine. In the future I may go back to visit. Before it was difficult.”

Fartun Hayir, 26, a scholar on the College of Minnesota, volunteered on the occasion. The Minnetonka resident mentioned she was excited to listen to the president communicate, which has been on her bucket listing.

“I hear many times that there are not many opportunities there,” Fartun mentioned of life in Somalia. “A good quality of life is not there like it is here. So I want to hear what he is willing to do to make people living in Somalia have a better everyday life.”

The auditorium slowly crammed all through the night with attendees carrying shiny blue caps and blue headscarves with white stars to match the Somali flag. Attendees additionally waved small Somali flags within the air as music performed over the audio system.

Hassan’s go to to Minnesota comes after he attended the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC hosted by President Joe Biden. Nearly 50 heads of state from Africa attended the summit from 13 to fifteen December.

Hassan was president of Somalia from 2012 to 2017, profitable one other time period in Might 2022. He final visited Minneapolis in 2014. Minnesota is residence to the biggest Somali neighborhood exterior of Africa.

Hashi Shafi, government director of the Minneapolis-based social justice group Civic Ark, mentioned he was appointed by Somalia’s authorities to host the Minneapolis occasion.

“The community has been waiting to meet the Somali president because for the last five years the president did not come to Minnesota,” Hashi mentioned earlier than the president’s arrival. “We are worried about what is happening in Somalia – about the war, the violent extremists who want to destroy our home.”

Greater than 73,000 foreign-born and native-born Somalis stay in Minnesota, in accordance with 2020 US Census knowledge and a report by Minnesota Compass, a demographic analysis group.

Hassan was elected in September 2012 by Somalia’s parliament within the first elections held within the nation for the reason that Sixties. He visited the College of Minnesota’s Northrop Auditorium throughout his tenure in 2014 and gave a speech urging the Somali neighborhood in Minnesota to not increase cash for al-Shabaab. Hassan urged mother and father to maintain their kids away from the group.

“Somalis in Minnesota, you too should play your part,” Hassan mentioned in his 2014 speech. “The enemy that exists in [Somalia] is also available here. Keep your children safe.”

A few hundred protesters gathered exterior the auditorium in 2014 and condemned Hassan’s go to, calling the president tribalistic and corrupt.

“If we fall, don’t criticize us, but cheer us up,” Hassan mentioned in his 2014 speech. “If you ridicule us when we fall, we may not move forward.”

Hassan’s 2014 go to additionally adopted the current US-Africa Leaders Summit. The summit was hosted by then-President Barack Obama to advertise commerce and funding in Africa.

This 12 months’s summit included discussions on well being, meals shortages, local weather change, civil unrest and area exploration. Secretary of Protection Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Hassan; Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of Djibouti; and Mohamed Bazoumon, President of Niger; on the primary morning of the summit. The leaders mentioned the international locations’ efforts to strengthen defenses and counter violent extremism.

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