Monday, 15 November 2010
Patriotism of Somali immigrants in the UK
It's not often that one's heart is turned and filled with wonder while reading the newspaper on a Monday morning going in to work. The sub-plot of the rescue of the Chandlers from their 13 month captivity by Somalian pirates was what did it for me. Somalian immigrants living in the UK have felt so bad about the Chandlers predicament that they have been fund raising to secure the ransom money for their release. A music video made by Somalis living in the UK brought in almost £150,000. The video was played on a Somali news station called 'Universal TV' and accompanied by a message directed at the pirates 'to remember all the good things Britain has done for Somalis since the civil war'. This kickstarted a worldwide campaign among Somalis to donate money and to express anger at the pirates' actions. The real hero of this story is the former London taxi driver of Somali origin who went back to Somalia to help negotiate the release of the Chandlers. He put himself in danger repeatedly because his children felt ashamed at school (in London)over the whole incident
Immigrants are always the faceless and voiceless victims in our debates on immigration. Society, policy makers and Governments talk about them as if they were a collective noun who should be labelled the human equivalent of parasite. It takes a story like this to debunk the 'which cricket team are you supporting?' theory as the tick-box of requisites to separate the 'us' and 'them'. The patriotism to Britian shown by these people is beyond the call of duty.
Many Somalis seek refuge in the UK to escape the cruel war in Somalia. It is one of the most dangerous countries in the world because of fighting between warlords and radical Islamist groups. Violence and death are everyday occurences since the central government was overthrown in 1991. Thousands of refugees have been displaced. Reoccurring floods have plagued the country. Famine is widespread and 300,000 people have died because of starvation and malnutrition and thousands continue to suffer. That they feel a sense of gratitude to be in the peace and stability of the UK comes as no surprise. Let us remember this tale of patriotism before the next wave of hate against immigrants comes calling. I hope the Chandlers remember to thank them too when they return home.