Minnesota Somali-American community offers support to those affected by bombing

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, October 22, 2017

By Martin Moylan and Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio News

Minnesota’s Somali-American community is banding together to raise money to help victims of the bombings in Mogadishu last weekend that killed more than 300 people. Community leaders are also hoping to send medical and emergency equipment, personnel and supplies to help with the recovery.

The big push starts with fundraisers during Friday prayers at the 70 or so mosques throughout the state. Two relief agencies, ARAHA and HARO, are also taking contributions to provide direct aid to Somalia. And there are a number of online fundraising efforts ongoing.

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“We need to help people and the best way to do that is to provide monetary support to get people what they need,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “The hope is to help those victims who lost loved ones and those who are still injured and others who have lost businesses and other things.”

The Dar Al Farooq Center in Bloomington is taking part in the fundraising and healing efforts. Ahmed Eyow, a member of the mosque, was killed in the blast. Executive director Mohammed Omar said there will be a lot of grieving people at the Friday service.

“This attack was so devastating. And It was the worst attack in Somali recent history. It affected almost every Somali member who live(s) in Minnesota,” Omar said.

Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center in Minneapolis is also having an event Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. They’re bringing in Minneapolis psychotherapist Ahmed Karie to talk about recognizing trauma in the wake of the bombing. They’ll also encourage worshipers to donate money toward the relief efforts.

Karie said his Somali-American clients are experiencing telltale signs of trauma, even if they don’t recognize it.

“It’s a shock, it’s a disbelief,” Karie said. “There’s confusion. There’s also difficulty concentrating, a lot of anger, a lot of mood swings, anxiety and fear.”

State Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis, said she has heard the eventual death toll in Somalia could hit 1,000.

“There are families here in Minnesota that have loved ones who have passed away and some who have their loved ones still missing,” Omar said.

She said some of the money raised will purchase and send supplies and some funds will go to nonprofits working in Somalia. In addition, she said efforts are underway to get 10 to 15 ambulances to Mogadishu, along with medical supplies from Twin Cities hospitals.

“We’re trying to see if we can even have some brave nurses and doctors be part of that effort,” Omar said.

Many people want to send money to family members in Somalia, but that can be a slow and expensive process. Banks are afraid to facilitate such transfers because they can get hit with big fines if they run afoul of federal anti-terrorism financing laws.

But Hussein said some small banks are still helping make money transfers. He said the institutions don’t want to draw attention to themselves and transfer fees can be as much as 6 percent.

“You can still send money,” Hussein said. “People have been sending money for quite some time. But these remittance services that have been doing this work have increased fees, due to the fact that they have to go through small banks and sometimes you have to go through a number of stops for the money to eventually get to Somalia.”