“We can only do so much. It’s their country,” Yamamoto said.
Abdikarim Omar agreed.
Yamamoto was in town as part of a three-city swing that also included Minneapolis and Seattle, home to two other large Somali communities. He talked to not only Somali leaders but also federal, state and law-enforcement members at the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities in Franklinton.
The transitional government in Somalia, backed by the United Nations and the U.S., is to cede power to a newly elected government by Aug. 20.
Abukar Sanei, the director and treasurer of the Muslim American Society in Columbus, said the Somali military and police have to be in place before a new government is formed.
Somalia remains a dangerous place. In April, the bombing of a theater in the capital of Mogadishu killed 10, including two top Somali sports officials. The extremist Islamic group al-Shabab claimed responsibility.
Al-Shabab “is still a power to be reckoned with,” Omar said.
Although older Somali leaders are concerned about what happens in their homeland, Yamamoto said he has found that younger members of the community just want jobs, want youth to stay away from gangs, and don’t want to be harassed.
“They want the American dream,” Yamamoto said.
By Mark Ferenchick /Columbus-dispatch