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Minnesota Somali Community is Engaged in Upcoming Election

The story of all the Somali people who have come to Minnesota is an amazing and inspiring one. Minnesota, after all, is far from the Horn of Africa. Yet is has largest Somali community in the country.

Many of these people have not yet achieved U.S. citizenship. When civil war broke out in Somalia in 1991, many came to the U.S. seeking asylum and refugee status.

Whether Somalis have been through the U.S. naturalization process or not, it is understandable that they have emotional ties to both Minnesota and the land they left behind.

To be sure, Somalia remains war-torn and divided after over twenty years of terrible bloodletting and national disintegration. Yet there are at last signs of hope. A transitional government is planning to hold national elections by August of this year.

Abdimalik Askar, a 36-year-old Somali man who has lived in Minnesota since 1993, is running for president of Somalia in that election.

Askar is well known to many Minnesota Somalis as the former host of a popular cable-access TV program called Somali Media. He is now the show’s producer.

The presidential vote will not be a direct one. Members of Somalia’s parliament, which will also be chosen in August, will choose the president.

Askar does not expect his absence from Somalia to be an issue when the parliament makes its choice. Indeed, about half of the candidates in the crowded field live outside of Somalia. And Minnesota is home to so many Somalis that last year the candidates even held a debate here.

Source: “Cultures & immigration beat: A local runs for Somalia’s top office,” Allie Shah, Star Tribune, 4-10-12

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