Controversy Over Somali President's Visit to Minneapolis

Updated: 08/11/2014 11:53 AM
Created: 08/09/2014 9:40 PM
By: Brandi Powell

Some Twin Cities residents decided to protest Saturday during the Somali president's two-day visit to Minneapolis.

President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud is in the U.S. as part of a divisive tour to engage Somali Americans. He was invited to the Northrop at the University of Minnesota Saturday night.

Hundreds of supporters gathered outside Northrop during the event, waving flags. They're hopeful Mahmoud can stop killings in Somalia.

"There are a lot of people here, of course we are Minnesotans, and we are Somalis as well," said Ahmed Hirsi, a freelance activist and Minneapolis resident who is helping coordinate the Mahmoud's visit. "We just want him to give us a bit of reassurance that everything is going to be OK, that our families are ok back there and that things will be normal, that they will go back to the way they used to be."

Hundreds of others took part in a peaceful protest. They say the Somali president is corrupt, is not controlling violence in Mogadishu and is causing divisions in the Minneapolis Somali Community.

"He's out of touch, to tell you the truth," said Abdirizak Jama, a protest organizer who's against the Somali President's visit to Minnesota. "We are calling to tell him to step down and be accountable for the killings in Somali that is also dividing the people here."

This week President Barack Obama hosted a U.S.-Africa leaders summit, which Mahmoud attended.

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