- Associated Press - Saturday, June 7, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Many Somalis have faced racism in the United States after fleeing their war-torn homeland. But some are facing another kind of discrimination - tribalism.

Somalia’s population is comprised of four main tribes and other minority clans. Tribalism has splintered Somali immigrant groups in other countries, and some activists in the Twin Cities are trying to do something to reduce tensions, Minnesota Public Radio reported (https://bit.ly/1k6HWuH ).

About 200 people recently attended the Anti-Tribalism Movement Reconciliation Conference in Minneapolis. Organizer Ahmed Hirsi said tribalism wasn’t an issue in Somalia until tribal conflicts re-emerged during the civil war.

“We have seen parents, youngsters get raped in front of us by other tribe, killed by other tribe,” said Shacido Shaie, a 29-year-old Somali activist in the Twin Cities. “They killed someone you loved. They destroyed the entire country. You can never forget that.”

When he was 12 years old, Hirsi asked his mother why they had to flee. She told him their home was on another tribe’s territory so they had to find somewhere else to live.

“It bothered me, because we all look the same - same language, same religion, everything,” Hirsi said. “But yet there is this tribalism that is spreading. It’s a disease.”

Hirsi said he hopes the reconciliation conference will lead to other community discussions. He recruited religious leaders and government representatives for the event.

Also taking the stage were members of the London-based Anti-Tribalism Movement. It was founded on the idea that no tribe should degrade or discriminate against other tribes, said Bishara Mohamud, a member who traveled from the United Kingdom for the event.

Since ATM’s creation in 2010, Mohamud said, she has seen an increase in social inequality in expatriate communities from North America to Scandinavia. She said when Somalis fled the war, they brought the mindset of tribalism with them.

For Hirsi, that’s a depressing irony.

“Tribalism is actually why we’re here,” he said.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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