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Minnesotans Demand Justice For Somali Killed In South African Race Riot
6/13/2013 11:51:27 AM

Somali protest

(GIN) – Hundreds of Somali-Americans rallied in Minnesota this week to protest the murder of a Somali shop owner in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Somali man was killed during a week of riots that targeted Somalis and other African foreigners.

Abdi Nasir Mahmoud was beaten to death after two Zimbabwean immigrants who were allegedly looting a store were killed. “You can replace what’s in a store,” a local man told Daily Maverick newspaper. “You can’t replace those two souls.”

The Somali’s murder was captured graphically in a video that surfaced on YouTube. The video shows a man lying naked in a busy street. As trucks drive by, he twists weakly to ward off kicks, blows, stones and a cement block raining down on him.

At the demonstration in St. Paul, Hali Mahmoud, the dead man’s sister, addressed a crowd of hundreds of Somali-Americans. Speaking amidst tears, she said her 27 year old brother had died a painful death.

The recent outbreak of “hate crime” brought back memories of May 2008 when an explosion of xenophobia or racism against foreign nationals left 62 dead and several hundred injured. It also caused the voluntary deportation of immigrants to their home countries and the destruction of immigrant-owned property.

Analysts link the anti-foreigner anger to high unemployment, a shortage of good jobs, housing and other basic necessities. But thinking this is “poor-on-poor” violence is not sustained by facts, argued David Cote of South Africa’s Lawyers for Human Rights.

There is a deep mistrust of law enforcement to protect local resident and solve crimes,” wrote Khadija Patel in the Daily Maverick newspaper of South Africa.

“Citizens have little faith in formal institutions and are resorting to violence," said the director of the Cape Town office for the Institute for Security Studies. "It is very possible that some of the victims may well be innocent."

“Corruption, bad management and an unclear policy has taken its toll... Daily reports of police officers tearing up refugee papers on the street and making cash demands from shop owners during searches of their businesses lend to the perception that there is no protection for foreigners against violence and persecution.

On Friday in Cape Town, a march of about 200 people was held to protest attacks on foreigners.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, more than 250 leaders, community leaders and Muslim religious representatives assembled at the State Capitol to remember Abdi Nasir Mahmoud and condemn his murder and the murders of other Somalis in South Africa. Hassan Mohamud, imam of Da’wah Islamic Center in St. Paul pleaded with the Somali government to secure safety and justice for the Somalis abroad.

Hali Mahmoud said her brother is survived by two sons, Ahmed, 7, and Hassan, 9.

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