Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addressed Minnesota's Somali community at the University of Minnesota's Northrop Auditorium in 2014. Credit: Mukhtar M. Ibrahim | MPR News 2014

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Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is scheduled to visit Minneapolis later this month and address Minnesota’s Somali community, the largest outside of Africa, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“We are excited to host His Excellency on December 15,” said Ifrah Abdullahi, the operations manager of Somali Community Resettlement Services and one of the organizers of the president’s visit.

Hassan will visit Minneapolis following a trip to Washington, D.C., where President Joe Biden is hosting the U.S.–Africa Leaders Summit from December 13 through 15. Leaders from the African Union and 49 invited nations—including Somalia—are expected to attend.

Hassan previously served as president of Somalia from 2012 to 2017 before winning another term and taking office again in May 2022. The convention center visit will mark the Somali president’s first trip to Minneapolis since 2014. That visit also followed a U.S.–Africa Leaders Summit, hosted by then–President Barack Obama. 

In his 2014 speech at the University of Minnesota’s Northrop Auditorium, Hassan urged Minnesota’s Somali community not to raise money for the insurgent militant group al-Shabaab, and called on parents to keep their children away from the group.

Hashi Shafi, executive director of the Minneapolis-based social justice organization Civic Ark, said he was appointed by the government of Somalia to host the event. Hassan had made a commitment to visit Minnesota after winning election earlier this year, Hashi added.

“The community has been waiting to see the Somali president because the last five years the president didn’t come to Minnesota,” Hashi said. “We have concerns about what is going on in Somalia—about the war, the violent extremists who want to destroy our home.”

Mohamud Ducale, chair of the Association of Somali Diaspora in the United States, said that Hassan would share news from Somalia and listen to ideas from the local Somali community. Hassan will likely address issues including the fight against al-Shabaab and the drought in East Africa, said Abdulaziz Sheikh, another member of the welcoming committee.

The program for the president’s appearance at the convention center will include entertainment from local Somali performers. Government leaders, including Governor Tim Walz, Mayor Jacob Frey, and Representative Ilhan Omar have been invited, Hashi said, adding that he hopes that other local Somali elected officials will also join. 

Hashi cautioned that security will be tight: Attendees should be prepared to pass through metal detectors and to have their bags checked.

More details will become available on Somali TV of Minnesota and Somali National TV social media accounts and WhatsApp as the event approaches, Hashi said.

How to attend President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s visit:

What: President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will speak to local community members. Minnesota elected officials have been invited to attend the event, which will include entertainment from local Somali performers.

Where: Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Ave. S., Minneapolis, 55404

When: Thursday, December 15, 2022. The event is from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Doors will open at 4 p.m. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is expected to arrive around 7 or 7:30 p.m. Doors will close when the president arrives.

How: The event is free to attend. Guests should expect to pass through metal detectors and to have their bags checked.

Becky Z. Dernbach is the education reporter for Sahan Journal. Becky graduated from Carleton College in 2008, just in time for the economy to crash. She worked many jobs before going into journalism, including...