Friday, 24 July 2009

Arson attack on the Somali Voice

Very depressing news about the torching of the Somali Voice office in Easton, and some fundamentally depressing comments on the BEP site too - and I suspect they've deleted some of the worst. Kayse, the editor of Somali Voice, is someone I know well and like very much. He has put in a huge amount of effort over the years to the paper and the website, as well as holding down a full-time job in the NHS, and it's so sad to see this all go up in smoke. I hope he can pull together the resources to keep going.

The bulk of the comments are along the lines of accusing Kayse of 'playing the race card', and saying there's no evidence it's a racist attack. Well it's actually the police who have suggested it might be, and it's common sense to suspect that would be a distinct possibility. It could be kids messing around as arson attacks often are; it could be an individual with a particular grievance; it could be white racists....We simply don't know yet. There have been tensions between Jamaicans and young Somalis in the area - in which case does that make it racist, or is it more about which gang you belong to, which happen to be delineated along racial lines? Or even just about turf wars, over drug dealing territory?

The Somali Voice is of course nothing to do with this, and I've had many a conversation with Kayse and other Somali community activists about what can be done to prevent disaffected Somali youths being drawn into that kind of street culture. (As I have done with people from the wider Muslim community, and in schools too with kids from all backgrounds).

As a footnote to the person who asks why there are so many Somalis in Bristol, as it was never part of the British Empire. Somaliland was a British colony. (Somalia was Italian). Many Somalis fought in the British army, and are very proud of their British links.

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