Charges continue to fly in the Twin Cities in the wake of charges and counter charges involving a Somali-dominated polling place. The opening lines of this article challenge the reader to try to figure out what the heck went on.
A mixture of first-time voters, translators, competing community leaders, political issues in Somalia, and clan-based allegiances in the Minnesota Somali community boiled over at the Brian Coyle Center on Election Day.
Omar Jamal, the Somali ‘community organizer’ who we have written about on several previous occasions seems to be at the center of the whole mess. Jamal had been ordered deported in 2005, so those of us reporting on Somali intrigues in the US are wondering how he escaped being shipped back to Somalia. Or, was it the same story as Obama’s Aunt Zeituni, he just didn’t go. Apparently nothing is being done about Jamal’s charges because he hasn’t filed an official complaint, just yakking it up. From The Bridge:
Omar Jamal accuses Jamal Hashi, the director of Somali Action Alliance*, of improper behavior in the polling place. Somali Action Alliance is an organization that is involved in civic engagement and social justice work, including voter registration. Hashi says that community leaders worked hard to educate Somalis as new immigrants on the election process.
The big question I have is, are these “new immigrants” citizens with the right to vote? Are they even legally in the US?
Critics of Omar Jamal point to the following information as the reason Jamal is complaining, and supports Coleman:
….Coleman met with Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed at the beginning of the year, when he urged the president to work towards reconciliation with other Somali leaders. Coleman’s assertion that the transitional government is “credible” has irked those Somalis who feel that their government is run by warlords. Ahmed’s government has come under fire for its association with Ethiopia, whose presence in Somalia is seen by many as an infringement of Somali sovereignty.
Clan allegiances continue to be important for Somalis in Minnesota. These allegiances may play a part in fear of political retaliation, which was cited by five local Somali community leaders as a reaon for refusing to talk on the record about the controversy at Brian Coyle Center.
Some in the Somali community say that it is hard to believe Jamal is getting as much airtime as he is, as they do not find him a credible source on issues going on in their community. Some feel that Jamal, who is related to President Ahmed, supports Coleman for this reason.
Jamal is related to Somali President Ahmed? Is that why he hasn’t been deported? Did Jamal himself vote?
To confuse you even further, go to this report on Congressman Keith Ellison (first Muslim in US Congress) lobbying for Al Franken.
Go back and read the whole story from The Bridge and see what a mess this is. And, sorry I haven’t helped much to sort it out and have maybe even complicated it further!
The final vote count for the Somali-dominated ward was:
The final vote totals from Ward 2, Precinct 10, reported by the Secretary of State’s office, was 938 for Barack Obama and 122 for John McCain, 854 for Al Franken and 161 for Norm Coleman. [Ward and precinct number corrected, 11/19/08]
Just think, the US Senate, our whole US government (!), could hinge on Somali clans and the politics of that hell hole in the Horn of Africa.
*Somali Action Alliance was granted 501(c)4 status in 2006. The IRS 501c(4) status allows the organization to be involved in political activity and donations are generally not deductible. In its 2006 Form 990 the Somali Action Alliance received $235,765 in grants and gifts. It is not clear how much this Catholic social justice organization (here) contributed. The Form 990 was signed by Hashi Abdi. Who knows if that is the same person mentioned above, Jamal Hashi?