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ICC NOTE: This article is a reminder of how deeply entrenched Islam is in Somalia, how many Somalis, even those in the United States are in favor of the Sharia to rule the country. Somali Christians are harassed in Kenya by other Somalis, and an ICC source reported that in Minneapolis they can be harrassed by fellow countrymen who are Muslim. The Muslim extremists in Somalia are not going to go away easily, even as they have recently been pushed back by Ethiopian forces.

1500 Somali protesters in Minneapolis in favor of ousted Islamists

Many of the 1,500 protesters in Minneapolis were angered that the U.S. gave tacit support for ousting of Islamists.

Star Tribune

December 30, 2006

More than a thousand Somalis gathered in Minneapolis on Saturday to call for Ethiopian troops to withdraw immediately from Somalia .

Their protest capped a week in which transitional government troops retook Mogadishu , Somalia ‘s capital, with the backing of Ethiopian infantrymen.

The U.S. government “gave the green light” to Ethiopia to work in concert with the transitional federal government in Somalia , and that action was “totally wrong,” said Hassan Mohamud.

He is the president of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice in Minneapolis , which organized Saturday’s rally.

“We ask the president of the United States , Mr. Bush, and his administration to stop supporting the terrorists. Ethiopian troops are terrorists,” Mohamud said to a cheering crowd.

Somali men, women and children gathered Saturday morning in Peavey Park in Minneapolis , and they carried an array of signs. Some said “No more war” and “Islam is the solution.”

Lt. Rick Thomas of the Minneapolis Police Department estimated the crowd at about 1,500 people for a rally that ran for more than two hours.

Mohamud said he and other Somalis want the United States to support talks that can yield “peace and reconciliation.”

Somalia has not had a stable government in 15 years, but many attendees at the rally said that the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) had brought some peace to the country during the past six months.

When that Islamic group took over the capital in June, many people were optimistic about the future, said Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in Minneapolis .

“They brought back security,” Jamal said in a telephone interview. “We were all hoping that the moderates would be able to take the lead in the organization of the UIC. But unfortunately, the radicals hijacked the process.”

Jamal said the large Somali community in Minnesota “is divided,” adding that many local Somalis supported the overthrow of the Islamists over the past few days.

Jamal said he attended the rally as an observer.

While leaders in the Somali community differ over the best political course of action to take for Somalia’s future, many Somalis yearn for a less violent, more stable environment that can better serve the people in Somalia.

Sadia Egal, 23, said she had been planning to visit her parents in Somalia in January. But the recent military actions prompted her to postpone the trip. She is fearful that her teenage brothers in Somalia could be killed in revenge slayings. “My dad asked them to stop going to school,” she said, so they could stay home and avoid being targets for violence.

Egal, who lives in north Minneapolis , has not returned to Somalia since she left the country with her aunt when she was 12 years old. She works as a parking attendant and interpreter and has been saving her money for six months to pay for her plane ticket.

Abdullahi Hassan, a small-business owner from Eden Prairie , said, “What brought me here [to the rally] is our country is under occupation by foreign forces.” He said the United States should support a process that would allow highly educated Somalis to find solutions to stabilize the country and build hospitals and schools that will serve the people.

Tacit U.S. approval

A member of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice, Abdul Mohamed of Minneapolis , said the military advances last week by Ethiopian troops created “one of the worst moments in Somali history.”

Mohamed disagrees with U.S. policy in Somalia , which he said is driven by “Islamophobia.”

Reports in the New York Times and other news organizations characterized the United States as giving tacit approval to Ethiopia ‘s military actions.

U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has been heavily involved in working with the Minnesota-based Somali community, said Coleman spokesman Luke Friedrich.

“Clearly, there are many different factions concerned with the future of Somalia , and thus many different voices,” Friedrich said Saturday. “In the end, it is in Somalia ‘s interest and America ‘s interest for the country to establish a democratic, secure and functional government — one where human rights are protected and terrorists cannot get a foothold.”