British Somalis also helped to release the Chandlers


by guest
17th November, 2010 at 9:52 am    

guest post by Talal Rajab from the Quilliam Foundation

Amidst all the welcome euphoria that has followed the release of Paul and Rachel Chandler, an important fact should be highlighted and thrust in the faces of those people, such as Rod Liddle, who had previously stigmatised Somalis.

British-Somalis played a part in not only highlighting the plight of the hostages to people within their communities home and abroad, but also in securing their actual release through the work of intermediaries such as the London cab driver, Dahir Abdullahi Kadiye.

When news first broke of the Chandlers ordeal, campaign groups were set up in Somali communities in order to highlight their plight and call for their release. Earlier this year, a giant banner in support of the couple was unfurled outside a Somali-led Mosque in Bristol, whilst in Camden, North London, hundreds of British-Somalis attended a rally in support of the couple.

Although these initiatives received scant media attention, they did have an effect on Somalis themselves, both at home and abroad, with some in the UK even attempting to raise the funds for their release themselves. According to one of the organisers of these campaigns it was important for Somali communities in the UK to call for the release of Chandlers since:

…Britain welcomes Somalis. Many of us came as refugees, as asylum seekers, and now we live freely… Because we are British now, we see our fellow citizens have been taken hostage.

For many ill-informed individuals, Somali communities in the UK are backward, khat-chewing, uneducated, unpatriotic individuals who are sympathetic to extremism. The reality, however, is much more complex.

There is little doubt that Somali communities today are experiencing issues that affected Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities in the 60s and 70s. Such problems, however, should not prevent people from seeing Somalis as an important part of the fabric of this country.

It would be wise for the likes of Liddle to refer to this example whenever the value of Somali communities in the UK is called into question. It should also serve as a reminder that stigmatizing minority communities doesn’t benefit anyone, especially since this example proves once again the once maxim that ‘diversity enriches our society’.


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  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : British Somalis also helped to release the Chandlers http://bit.ly/dtqg8n


  2. Darren Smith

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Somalis also helped to release the Chandlers http://bit.ly/dtqg8n


  3. Liz Hyder

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Somalis also helped to release the Chandlers http://bit.ly/dtqg8n


  4. Press Not Sorry

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Somalis also helped to release the Chandlers http://bit.ly/dtqg8n


  5. Quilliam

    "British Somalis also helped to release the Chandlers" – Talal Rajab writes for Pickled Politics http://fb.me/w6AIPMkl


  6. links for 2010-11-27 « Embololalia

    [...] Pickled Politics » British Somalis also helped to release the Chandlers Britain welcomes Somalis. Many of us came as refugees, as asylum seekers, and now we live freely… Because we are British now, we see our fellow citizens have been taken hostage. (tags: uk pirates somalia) [...]




  1. Larry — on 17th November, 2010 at 12:25 pm  

    Are you Somali? Or are you just obsessed with ethnics, in general?

    You obviously haven’t been watching BBC news – they wouldn’t shut up about it.

  2. Sarah AB — on 17th November, 2010 at 12:35 pm  

    I’ve certainly come across negative comments about Somalis – not *lots*, but some – so a corrective seems fair enough.

  3. Mark T — on 17th November, 2010 at 1:12 pm  

    When news first broke of the Chandlers ordeal, campaign groups were set up in Somali communities in order to highlight their plight and call for their release. Earlier this year, a giant banner in support of the couple was unfurled outside a Somali-led Mosque in Bristol, whilst in Camden, North London, hundreds of British-Somalis attended a rally in support of the couple. Although these initiatives received scant media attention

    Are you sure?

    http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Bristol-Somalis-help-raise-ransom-hostages-held-pirates/article-1811125-detail/article.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/8514104.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8361889.stm

    That’s just with a quick google search.

  4. chris y — on 17th November, 2010 at 1:24 pm  

    It would be wise for the likes of Liddle to refer to this example whenever the value of Somali communities in the UK is called into question.

    Drop me a line next time the likes of Liddle do something wise. This is what these people do.

  5. Sunny — on 17th November, 2010 at 2:13 pm  

    those are local stories, not national stories.

  6. BenSix — on 17th November, 2010 at 2:16 pm  

    BBC England sounds a bit national…

  7. ptl — on 17th November, 2010 at 2:22 pm  

    BBC News (national news) did say Somalis here had held protests and raised money, they showed photos and (I think) a video. “Wouldn’t shut up about it” is though, of course, piffle.

  8. Dr Paul — on 17th November, 2010 at 3:39 pm  

    There was a big front-page piece in the Evening Standard on this fellow. I hope that it will help counter anti-Somali stereotyping. Amongst any people there are villains and there are those who will selflessly help others; it’s good that an example of the latter has been publicised here.

  9. damon — on 17th November, 2010 at 3:48 pm  

    There is little doubt that Somali communities today are experiencing issues that affected Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities in the 60s and 70s.

    Why particularly with Somalis?
    I’ve heard Dotun Adebayo ask a similar question on his sunday evening London radio programme.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2006/08/24/dotun_sunday_feature.shtml

    Where he asked black Londoners – were Somalis seen as part of the black community, such that it is? Some callers rang in and said no, not really.

    I watched a programme called ‘The Family’ last night about a Nigerian family living in east London.
    And can only think that the Adesina family could become quite popular when people get to know them.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/nov/06/adesinas-family-reality-television-channel-four

  10. Refresh — on 17th November, 2010 at 5:40 pm  

    ‘ … this example proves once again the once maxim that ‘diversity enriches our society’. ‘

    And it enhances our standing in the world.

  11. Trofim — on 17th November, 2010 at 6:52 pm  

    I feel I should point out that the Somalis who participated and contributed money were motivated by purely altruistic reasons – because they dearly love Paul and Rachel Chandler. Those cynics who suggest that Somalians did this in order to gain a few brownie points for their community should receive a good slap on the wrist.
    I watched that programme about the Nigerian family too. I was interested to hear one of the girls say that she was at the same time 100% Nigerian and 100% British. Is that an example of Nigerian mathematics?

    “diversity enriches society”. Evidence please. Numerical evidence. In 2008, last year for which there are statistics, twice as many people moved from London to Herefordshire, as vice versa. Herefordshire is one of the least diverse places in England. London is one of the most diverse. If diversity enriches society, why is it that people prefer non-enriched areas? What is Herefordshire missing in particular by having no Somalis? Evidence please, as well, for the assertion that diversity enhances our standing in the world.

  12. Don — on 17th November, 2010 at 8:01 pm  

    Is that an example of Nigerian mathematics?

    That’s a cheap shot, Trofim.

    Numerical evidence.

    Calling that ‘evidence’ is a bit of a stretch.

  13. Trofim — on 17th November, 2010 at 8:06 pm  

    Is that an example of Nigerian mathematics?

    That’s a cheap shot, Trofim.

    English mathematics, then. Mathematics it is not.

    Anyhow, you don’t get to know much about Britain by living in London of all places.

    These vacant assertions about diversity enriching society are meaningless unless substantiated by some kind of evidence – you can measure life satisfaction, and measure diversity, after defining them, and then see if there is any kind of correlation. Why doesn’t someone do it?

  14. Niaz — on 17th November, 2010 at 8:18 pm  

    Trofim
    ““diversity enriches society”. Evidence please. Numerical evidence. In 2008, last year for which there are statistics, twice as many people moved from London to Herefordshire, as vice versa. Herefordshire is one of the least diverse places in England. London is one of the most diverse. If diversity enriches society, why is it that people prefer non-enriched areas? What is Herefordshire missing in particular by having no Somalis? Evidence please, as well, for the assertion that diversity enhances our standing in the world.”

    Your continual presence on this website, made and run by the children of South Asian immigrants of a different tongue and religion?

  15. Trofim — on 17th November, 2010 at 8:37 pm  

    Niaz @ 14.

    “Your continual presence on this website, made and run by the children of South Asian immigrants of a different tongue and religion?”

    Continual presence? Very intermittent, I would say. I don’t quite understand what your cryptic communication is intended to communicate. Besides which, you are making some untested assumptions about my person.

  16. Niaz — on 17th November, 2010 at 8:54 pm  

    Trofim

    “ Besides which, you are making some untested assumptions about my person.”

    Something you never do about others not least Somalis

  17. Trofim — on 17th November, 2010 at 9:06 pm  

    Niaz @ 16.
    I think this is what’s called whataboutery, is it not?
    Do you have anything useful to say, for instance, about the assertions that:
    diversity enriches society, and
    diversity enhances our standing in the world?

  18. damon — on 18th November, 2010 at 1:50 am  

    ”Is that an example of Nigerian mathematics?”

    Yes, that does seem a spiteful thing to say. She was a young woman born in Britain who was saying she felt equally British and Nigerian.

    I only mentioned the Nigerian programme, as the family are an example of African people who while retaining thier African culture, seem to easily fit into a multi-cultural society like east London, and blend in well – particularly the children who are completely Londoners.
    I used to live near a Somalian community in south London, and maybe it was my perception that was wrong, but they seemed to be more aloof and difficult to interact with. I thought that they liked their privacy to the point that three cafe/resturants had the windows covered up so you couldn’t see in, with just a small square of clear glass on the door so you could look in.
    And when you did, it looked like it was not a place for starngers to just go walking in.

    British Somalis do chew khat. What the percentage is and how often, you can try to guess at just by doing a google search. The recent banning of cargo flights from Somalia has meant that several tons a week were not not getting in.

    8 tonnes of Khat were imported to Heathrow Airport 5 times a week, from Kenya and Somalia predominately.

    http://openlylocal.com/documents/34035-Minutes-for-Residents-and-Environmental-Services-Policy-Overview-Committee-meeting-Sep-22-2010-6-00PM

    It cannot be that much, can it?
    http://www.voice-online.co.uk/content.php?show=17945

  19. Sunny — on 18th November, 2010 at 2:16 am  

    Continual presence? Very intermittent, I would say

    Really? You post on here or on Libcon nearly every day, with some tripe or another…

  20. Sarah AB — on 18th November, 2010 at 7:30 am  

    Trofim (#11) – I don’t know anything about the circumstances of the Somalis’ fundraising, but as a general point I’d say it was perfectly human to have mixed motives for doing ‘good deeds’ of various kinds – and if the Somali community *does* tend to attract criticism – then it seems quite understandable that they might welcome a chance to counter those views.

  21. douglas clark — on 18th November, 2010 at 7:43 am  

    Sarah AB @ 20,

    Superbly well put. I am in awe.

  22. joe90 — on 18th November, 2010 at 11:18 am  

    In a country that is war ravaged and law and order is non existent i am talking about somalia here not inner city london. Its easy to focus on kidnapping, piracy, crime which will obviously hit the headlines it always does.

    How about offering solutions to these problems, its hardly mentioned that the waters of somalia have been polluted by western dumping of waste including nuclear waste which has killed the fishing industry.

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/04/13-6

    Is it any surprise what are the somalian fisherman resort to, when their industry has been destroyed by some corporate slimebag trying to cut costs?

  23. damon — on 18th November, 2010 at 12:03 pm  

    I see that people would rather argue about the swimming pool issue. This one though could be more interesting I think.
    I agree with Sarah AB …. but then comes the question, why might Somalis attract criticism?
    They were mainly asylum seekers to begin with I think. And thousands who had gotten Dutch, Danish and Swedish nationality, moved on to Britain after a few years in those countries for some reason. Does anyone know what that reason actually was? It was their right of course, but there must have been a reason.
    Just like there was a reason that my parents and hundreds of thousands of other Irish people moved to England. I’ve just never heard what the reason for the Somali migration from European countries to Britain was.

    I heard a ‘criticism’ of the Somali community the other night on the radio, where they were discussing the Chandlers. A guy from Liverpool rang in and mentioned how the Somali community in Liverpool (in Toxteth) still went back and forth to Somalia regularly for holidays and family visits. ”How is that when they have been given asylum from Somalia because it’s too dangerous?” he asked.

    A fair question from a general member of the public, but one perhaps borne of ignorance. His implication was that they couldn’t have been genuine asylum seekers in the first place if they went back there for holidays now.
    Things change, and it might be OK to visit some areas of Somalia now, and not others, and it might have been different and unsafe some years ago. But still – you can see why the general public might not understand that.

    They did a Channel 4 News story on British Somalis and the Chandlers, and Somali schoolgirls had said they had been embarrassed by the kidnapping, as it showed Somalis in a bad way. So presumably it was done out out of self interest. Which is fair enough, but there are loads of other hostages being held, but they don’t get the same publicity in Britain.

    Finally, Rageh Omaar has done some documentaries about the Somali community in Britain. Some of the things he has said sounded rather alarmist, and I have wondered if he has talked up negative things about his own community to give him a story to sell.

  24. damon — on 18th November, 2010 at 1:12 pm  
  25. Tory — on 18th November, 2010 at 3:30 pm  

    I think Sunny is patting Somalis on the back for being against kidnapping. The low standards of multiculturalism.

  26. barry — on 18th November, 2010 at 8:10 pm  

    “I think Sunny is patting Somalis on the back for being against kidnapping. The low standards of multiculturalism.”

    Yes, well done, you’ve managed to read something into this which not only wasn’t there but is the opposite of what’s stated.

    I’m not going to explain how you’ve misunderstood, because it’s perfectly obvious you’re being deliberately obtuse.

    I heard a report on Radio 4 on Sunday, from a reporter in Somalia, talking about the attempts by Somalis there to negotiate a release. It was heartbreaking – the reporter told of how every Somali they met wanted to get across how much they wanted to help and were ashamed of the episode. They knew the depiction of them in the west was all piracy and lawlessness, and they wanted to get across how this wasn’t what they were like.

  27. Niaz — on 19th November, 2010 at 12:53 am  

    Tory
    “I think Sunny is patting Somalis on the back for being against kidnapping. The low standards of multiculturalism.”

    While people like you approve of the US/Israel kidnapping individuals……….. and if they had done nothing would be screeching “why aren’t British Somalis/Muslims doing more to help the Chandlers ” in the collective blame of Muslims the right love to indulge in

  28. joe90 — on 19th November, 2010 at 11:18 am  

    post #27

    that’s good point there is a double standard in play, the US forces kidnap women and kids for god’s sake, i won’t even bother to mention what israel doe’s we be here all day.

    But we have to give credit to somali community for speaking out against it, it not something nice to kidnap charity workers.

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