Young, Muslim and Black: The struggle to integrate Somalis in the UK


Monday August 13, 2018 “The United Kingdom is home to the largest Somali community in Europe, many of whom arrived in the 1990s or before. But the struggle for integration is ever present despite nearly 75 percent of the community possessing British citizenship. Emma Wallis looks into the reasons why.

Yasmin Olaad looks straight at the camera and speaks confidently. She is wearing a pretty pink patterned headscarf and a bright pink lacy long-sleeved dress. She is part of an exhibition at Bristols’ M Shed museum showcasing the stories of young Somalis in the city of Bristol, home to the fastest growing Somali community in the UK.

Today, Yasmin Olaad works for the UN and travels the world. She counts herself as fortunate and can attest to lots of positive experiences. Nevertheless, occasionally she has to contend with prejudice.

She recounts the time she was telling an acquaintance she was about to embark on a PhD. He looked at her and said, “you know you need a degree and a masters degree for that!” Perhaps accompanied by a withering stare, she shot back: “I have a first class degree and a first class masters, so why are you assuming that I don’t?” She goes on, “they expect you to be really poor and uneducated, but overall my experience has been 80-90 percent positive.” Olaad thinks this is because Somalis are really adaptable and there is a lot of positivity in Somali culture.

But despite the positivity, the wider community has sometimes struggled with certain aspects of integration in the UK. And that struggle has been further complicated by the fact that most Somalis are Muslim.

Muna Abdi sits in a full Niqab. She too is part of the Bristol exhibition that was on show until April 2018 and that will be digitized to go online soon. Abdi’s hands rest calmly in her lap and then via an audio link you hear her speak. Clear Bristolian vowels roll warmly from her lips, perhaps not what many viewing the exhibition would have expected from her strict Muslim dress, and that’s the point.

“I’ve lived in Bristol 23 years,” she confides. “What don’t I love about Bristol?” she rhetorically asks, going on to respond: “the lush accent, the lovely attitudes of the people, the beautiful city; the fact that there is so much variety; […] everyone is just from everywhere in Bristol. It is so diverse and beautiful. I absolutely love Bristol.”

Breaking down those barriers and challenging people’s expectations is what the exhibition at Bristol’s M Shed museum was all about. The M Shed Museum wanted to get communities talking by displaying the stories of Bristol’s fastest growing Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) community, the Somalis.

Until recently, those Somalis tended to come to society’s attention, if at all, because of negative news stories focusing on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Crime, Drugs, poverty and the oppression of women. In short, if they were seen at all, they were not fully functioning members of society and were oppressed or poor.

Millions of Somali refugees

The Somali diaspora is one of the largest refugee populations in the world, with almost one million Somali refugees globally according to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. As of 30 June 2018, 2.6 million Somali people were displaced internally (IDP) and almost 1 million were forced to leave the country.

In the last three and a half years, internal displacement trends have increased 125 percent, according to the UNHCR’s fact sheet released in June 2018. Drought, conflict and continuing insecurity are the main reasons for Somalis to leave their homes, even today. Since the 1990s, war and unrest wrought havoc on the country and caused Somalis to look for new homes.

Challenges in the UK

In the UK, most of the Somali communities have been established since the 1990s and some decades, even centuries before. Despite not being recent arrivals, educational attainment has not always been as high as in some other migrant communities – despite Olaad’s example. This is also true for those born in the UK.

Unemployment and poverty are also factors which continue to dog many in the Somali British community. In the last three years, three Islamist influenced attacks in the UK and Belgium were perpetrated by young men with Somali origins which shone a negative spotlight on the community.

According to official figures, there are about 5,000 Somalis living in Bristol, but unofficial estimates think it could be double that.

Despite the numbers, Somalis weren’t particularly visible, or vocal, as a group, until recently.

The struggle for acceptance is common for the Somali community in Bristol and across the UK. The two-way integration that Bristol authorities are aiming for can occasionally be misunderstood, explains Abdi Mohammed, a director of the Somali Media Group, who also took part in the exhibition.

“Integration: What does that mean to us? Is it in terms of culture? Is it in terms of assimilation which is sometimes very difficult? For me it is, [asking the question]: are we contributing?” He thinks there is a huge amount of contribution from the Somali community, both socially and economically and that, he concludes, is how integration should be measured.

The use of labels

In the UK, Somalis are often not seen as a group apart but as part of the wider Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) community. That is ignoring the complexity of identities within the Somali community itself, thinks Sado Jirde. She’s director of the Black South West Network in Bristol which works for race equality. Sado is an ethnic Somali who grew up in Kenya and then the UK.

“I guess naturally, when we tend to look at the BME community we see them as a homogeneous group, but that is not the case. They might be black but even in the context of Africa, culturally [each country is] very different, and religiously they are very different [too.] The Somalis, even within themselves have fundamental issues, they have clans, they have other things, so I wouldn’t even call the Somalis one thing.”

Most Somalis in the UK are Muslim. That wasn’t always the case, Finn White, the curator of the exhibition, explains. They showed the group who were part of the exhibition photos that the museum held of Somalians and Somalilanders from the past.

Many of the younger generation were surprised to see that their forefathers and mothers did not always wear the Hijab and were a lot less covered up than the dress they consider “traditionally Somali” today. Today’s adherence to Islamic dress codes can also present difficulties to integration for the host society because of the negative connotations that have become associated with Muslims since 2001 and the so-called ‘war on terror.’

This has made younger Somalis even more determined to identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims, thinks Sado Jirde. “The younger generation would actually identify themselves as Muslim before they identify themselves as Somalis. If you are Muslim your Islamic faith is very much what you see every day defined in a very negative way. So it is political. How people identify, it is quite complex, it’s very much informed by how people feel in terms of their surroundings.”

And it’s not just angry young men who are shouting about their faith. Sado explains she took up wearing the Hijab following the Brexit referendum in 2016.

“A lot of people didn’t even know I was a Muslim. But after the [Brexit] conversation, then Trump came in and I thought I need to be counted and I want to be a Muslim visibly.” Three days after the Brexit vote, she suffered what she calls a ‘racist type attack’ walking through the center of town. “I was actually walking […] and I felt somebody hit me with a potato on the head. I’ve never felt anything [like that] before.”

The majority of the Somali community live in the eastern part of Bristol, around Easton and Lawrence Hill. Like many in this area, their integration is often compounded by the problems of poverty. Drug crime is an ongoing problem.

A few years ago, a Somali drug gang was convicted of grooming and gang-raping under-age girls, which further tarnished the community’s reputation. Despite that, Mohammed Ali, a youth worker based in Easton community center, says that it is the younger generation who are the keys to integration.

“There are people [Somalis] who are working hard to contribute to the city and also to reflect their presence in the city. Somalis are now visible in politics. We have one councilor with a Somali background. And there are others as well. You know there is a generation which is coming up. That generation will contribute to the city and they will improve integration.”

Just around the corner from the community center are a couple of streets lined with Somali businesses. Money exchange facilities, internet points and convenience stores sit next to taxi companies and restaurants. Many other members of minority ethnic communities also use these facilities.

The director of the Somali media group, Abdi Mohammed, has his office in the east of Bristol too. He thinks contributing economically and socially is the key to integration and avoids assimilation.

The exhibition “provided that opportunity to listen to stories and […] to actually talk to some real people,” explains Finn White. Seeing themselves and their stories celebrated on the wall has galvanized the Somali community too.

White remembers Somali teenagers, who weren’t in the exhibition, lining up to take selfies in front of it and young Somali school children rushing up to the exhibition to touch and gaze in awe at seeing people like them reflected back at them from the walls of an institution.

Sado Jirde, who came up with the proposal for the exhibition, would agree. She thinks publicizing ‘normal’ people’s stories for everyone to read has helped break down barriers. It has given her hope for the future. Though challenges exist, removing labels and getting to know each other is the only way to move forward and build a positive future for integration, Jirde says.


  1. obviously like your website but you have to test the spelling on several of your posts.
    Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome to inform
    the truth on the other hand I’ll definitely come again again.

  2. It’s truly a great and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you just
    shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hey There. I found your blog the use of msn. That is an extremely smartly
    written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to
    learn more of your helpful information. Thanks for the post.

    I will definitely comeback.

  4. Usually I don’t read article on blogs, however I would
    like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do so!
    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great

  5. Hello there, I do believe your site could be having browser compatibility problems.
    When I look att your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening
    in Internet Explorer, it has some ovesrlapping
    issues. I just wanted too provide you witfh a quick heads up!

    Besides that, wonderful website!

  6. What i do noot understood is actually how you are now not really much more neatly-liked than you might
    be right now. You’re very intelligent. You recognize therefore significantly in trrms of this matter,
    made me personally believe it rom so many varied angles.

    Its like men and women don’t sem to be involved except it is
    one thing to do with Woman gaga! Your individual stuffs outstanding.
    All the time maintain it up!

  7. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here
    frequently. I am quite sure I will learn lots of new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  8. 转讬拽讬诐 砖诇 驻讜诇 驻专谞拽

    wc bril uniek koop de mooiste softclose wc brillen met beste kwaliteit happy sun with sunglasses stock vector hot transparent sexy mature muslim women nightgown gorro de lana verde con bot贸n madera y precioso encaje sombreros para el beb茅 complementos…

  9. This is really fascinating, You are a very
    professional blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look ahead to in the hunt for extra of your wonderful post.
    Additionally, I’ve shared your site in my social networks

  10. Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog
    writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for newbie blog writers?
    I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  11. Thank you for another informative blog. The place else could I am getting that kind of information written in such a
    perfect approach? I have a project that I am just now operating on, and I have been on the look out for
    such information.

  12. 尾蟻蔚蠁喂魏伪 魏慰蟻喂蟿蟽喂蟽蟿喂魏伪 未蠅渭伪蟿喂伪

    staff 纬蠀谓伪喂魏蔚委慰 蟿味喂谓 蟺伪谓蟿蔚位蠈谓喂 riverdale wonen interieur najaar 2017 3 doosjes dolce gusto voor 10 euro adidas 3 stripes clx zwemshort zwart 蟺蠅位蔚委蟿伪喂 慰位慰魏伪委谓慰蠀蟻喂伪 畏位蔚魏蟿蟻喂魏萎 魏慰蠀味委谓伪 渭蟺慰蠀蠁维谓 dainese fairbanks tex 伪蟺蠈 319 rescue me 渭蟺蟻蔚位慰魏 慰 谓苇慰蟼 魏伪蟿维位慰纬慰…

  13. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your article seem
    to be running off the screen in Chrome. I’m not
    sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility
    but I thought I’d post to let you know. The design and style look great though!

    Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Cheers

  14. Fantastic items from you, man. I’ve take note your stuff previous to and
    you are just extremely wonderful. I actually like what you have received here, certainly like
    what you are saying and the way in which wherein you are saying it.
    You make it entertaining and you continue to care for to keep it wise.

    I cant wait to learn far more from you. This is
    actually a terrific site.

  15. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought
    this post was good. I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;
    ) Cheers!

  16. Wow, wonderful weblog format! How long have you been running a blog for?
    you make blogging look easy. The full glance of your web site is
    great, let alone the content!

    Also visit my web blog: fb88

  17. When porn becomes repetitive or too boring,
    movie sex scenes are often the next best thing!

    Our sexperts have listed 6 movies with a decent sex scene and plot
    to watch next time you’re in for a little change in …

    >movie> >realit> >fantas> >blo>

  18. You really make it seem really easy with your presentation however I in finding this topic to be really
    one thing that I believe I’d never understand. It sort of
    feels too complicated and very huge for me.
    I’m looking forward for your subsequent publish, I will try to get the hang of it!

  19. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really
    something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for
    your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  20. 먹튀폴리스는 먹튀검증커뮤니티로써
    꽁머니 제공은 물론, 먹튀사이트의 먹튀검증을 위한 검증사이트입니다.
    먹튀폴리스 먹튀검증커뮤니티를
    통해 신규 먹튀사이트 정보와 기존 토토사이트의 철저한 검증으로 먹튀없는 시대를 만들어가고 있습니다.

    먹튀검증 먹튀폴리스를 사랑하는 여러분의 많은 호응바랍니다.

  21. I rеalⅼy like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you make this website yourself or ɗiԁ you hire someone to do it for y᧐u?
    Plz resрond ɑs I’m looking to create my own blog and would
    like to know where u got this from. cheers

    Also visit my web page; Bandarq

  22. This is really interesting, You’re a very professional
    blogger. I have joined your rss feed and stay up for in search of extra of your great post.
    Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks

    Here is my web site … pomeranian

  23. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a
    friend who has been conducting a little homework on this.
    And he actually ordered me lunch because I
    stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….

    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this topic here on your website.

  24. First of all I would like to say awesome blog! I had a quick
    question that I’d like to ask if you do not
    mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.
    I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my
    thoughts out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however
    it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips?

  25. Thank you for any other informative blog.
    The place else may I am getting that type of info written in such an ideal means?
    I have a venture that I’m just now working on, and
    I’ve been on the glance out for such information.

  26. First of all I would like to say awesome blog! I had
    a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.
    I’ve had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there.
    I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost
    just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?
    Many thanks!

  27. Right here is the perfect website for everyone who wishes to
    find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that
    I really would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject which has been discussed for years.
    Great stuff, just wonderful!

  28. First off I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick
    question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I
    was interested to find out how you center yourself and
    clear your head before writing. I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just
    seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?
    Thank you!

  29. Знаете ли вы?
    17 бойцов остановили под Старым Осколом более 500 оккупантов.
    Плата за проезд в последний путь у древних была скорее символической.
    Китайскую пустыню засадили лесами и открыли там фешенебельный курорт.
    Русские мечтали о шапке-невидимке, а древние греки — о кольце невидимости.
    Жену Генриха VIII на суде защищал посол Священной Римской империи.

  30. Знаете ли вы?
    Предок вождя революции участвовал в управлении долгами Российской империи.
    Старейшую в России организацию реставраторов велено было выселить и уплотнить.
    Бывший министр финансов удостоился высшей государственной награды за распространение знаний о психических расстройствах.
    «С любимыми не расставайтесь…» автор написал после того, как чуть не погиб в железнодорожной катастрофе.
    Китай реализует в Пакистане собственный План Маршалла.

  31. Consolation and safety of users are part of company’s considerations.
    So the full quantity of water withdrawn by the place is about 1/630,
    720th of the water that flows by the river, or a
    bit more than 1 part per million. Energetic “Indirect” Closed Loop
    systems are highly regarded in the UK but slightly more expensive then the
    direct systems as a twin coil cylinder will must be installed if you do not
    already have one and there’s extra pipework.
    The added complexity simply provides more failure modes.
    Heat dump methods can not overcome power failures, except you aadd a back up generator, which may have its
    own failure modes. To avoid the over temperature problem, giant glycol techniques have additional gear installed to dump excess heat.
    Within the UK to protet from freezing wee
    set up a controller that can shut off the availability to
    to the collector once the skin temperature drops to a certain stage.

    Also visit my webpage … Mandy

  32. I do accept as true with all of the ideas you’ve introduced in your post.

    Thhey are very convincing and will definitely work.
    Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for novices.

    Could you please extend them a biit from next time? Thanks for thhe post.

  33. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting!
    I seriously enjoyed reading it, you can be a
    great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and may come
    back very soon. I want to encourage that you continue your
    great posts, have a nice afternoon!

  34. siemens maquina secar roupa

    marcas bombillas led bose acoustimass best front speakers for home theater carteras de hombre cuero port谩til restaurando maneras antiguas conair one inch curling iron 銈点儵銈枫偋 椤?/a> peld膿拧anas piederumi veikals kombinovan茅 ko膷铆ky loja de alto falantes ce…

  35. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button!
    I’d certainly donate to this brilliant blog! I guess for now i’ll settle
    for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this blog with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

  36. Space Blue Saturn Dark Art Nature For Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 8A 8T 10 K30 5G Pro For Motorola G G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 Plus

    Orange Fluffy Cat Luxury TPU Rubber Phone Case For Huawei P7 P8 P9 P10 P20 P30 Lite Mini Plus Pro Y9 Prime P Smart Z 2018 2019 For Huawei P7 P8 P9 P10 P20 P30 Lite Mini Plus Pro Y9 Prime P Smart Z 2018 2019 Soft Protector Animal Cute Baby Otter Pattern…

  37. Hello, just wanted too tell you, I enjoyed this blog post.
    It was practical. Keep on posting!
    клуб онлайн-казино web page скачать онлайн-казино

  38. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of
    plagorism or copyright violation? My blog has a lot
    of exclusive content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it seems a
    lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my authorization. Do you know any ways to help reduce content from being
    ripped off? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  39. I was just seekikng this info for a while. After 6 hours of continuous
    Googleing, finally I got it in your site. I wonder what’s
    the lack of Google strategy that do not rak this type of informative websites inn top of the
    list. Normally the topp websites are full of garbage.

    My site silentseductionsystem

  40. Hi, I do believe this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to revisit
    yet again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to
    change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

  41. I am not sure where you’re getting your information,
    but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or
    understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  42. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each
    time a comment is added I get three emails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!

  43. My developer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.

    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.

    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress
    on a number of websites for about a year and am nervous about switching to
    another platform. I have heard good things about
    Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it?

    Any help would be really appreciated!

  44. vestidos sencillos y elegantes

    asprey huawei cases victorias secret fashion show iphone 6 6s case off white apple e1786 samsung galaxy s10 case ray ban rose ronde miroir basket homme asics tenue beige femme bracelet fantaisie corail vintage los angeles dodgers starter jacket 伪谓未蟻喂魏伪…

  45. You гeally make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I woᥙⅼd never understаnd.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking
    forward for your next post, I will try to get thе hang of it!

    Fеel free to visit my blog post; Situs qq

  46. Great beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website,
    how could i subscribe for a blog website? The account aided me a acceptable deal.
    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast
    provided bright clear idea

  47. saturn mini gl盲tteisen

    unter brust ghd gl盲tteisen white kleid mit eisk枚nigin rockabilly kleider kaufen outlet stores in deutschland lagerfeld daunenjacke herren kunststoffregale g眉nstig http www media markt online macchine espresso a cialde set da giardino in bambu cofanetti…

  48. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer
    for your blog. You have some really great posts and I believe I would
    be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love
    to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please shoot me an e-mail if interested. Thanks!

  49. Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better!
    Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept talking about this. I most certainly will
    forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

  50. Your one-stop store to Asia’s biggest intercourse location, find Tokyo
    Escorts, Brothels, Sexual Massages, Blowjob Bars,
    Strip Groups, Intercourse Services and a great deal more!

  51. I take pleasure in, result in I found just what I was taking a
    look for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a nice day. Bye

  52. 薪械 褉褌褍褌薪褘械 谐褉邪写褍褋薪懈泻懈

    prateleiras de madeira onde comprar 绁?銈儠銉?/a> 慰蟻纬伪谓慰 胃蔚蟻渭慰魏蟻伪蟽喂伪蟽 谓蔚蟻慰蠀 伪蠀蟿慰魏喂谓畏蟿慰蠀 蠄畏蠁喂伪魏慰 ed茅nysz谩r铆t贸 t谩lc谩val ker茅kp谩r riaszt贸 gyermek aut贸versenyz艖 jelmez csapuniverzum kapcsolat cip艖 outlet online disney 谩gy akci贸 karaoke kever艖pult 100×135 谩gyn…

  53. I have been exploring for a bit for any high quality articles
    or blog posts on this kind of house . Exploring in Yahoo
    I eventually stumbled upon this site. Studying this information So i am satisfied to convey that I’ve an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I discovered just
    what I needed. I most certainly will make certain to don?t disregard this site
    and give it a glance on a continuing basis.

  54. Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog
    and wanted to say that I’ve truly enjoyed
    browsing your weblog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing for your feed and I am hoping you write once
    more soon!

  55. I like the valuable info you provide for your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
    I am reasonably certain I’ll be told many new stuff right right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  56. I will right away take hold of your rss feed as I can not in finding your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Please allow me understand in order that I may just subscribe.


  57. A person essentially lend a hand to make significantly
    posts I’d state. That is the first time I frequented your website page and to this
    point? I surprised with the analysis you made to
    make this particular post extraordinary. Fantastic activity!

  58. I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure
    whether this post is written by him as nobody else know
    such detailed about my difficulty. You are amazing!

  59. I’ve been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all
    site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be
    a lot more useful than ever before.

  60. Thank you for every other informative web site. Where else may just I am getting
    that type of information written in such an ideal means?
    I’ve a challenge that I am just now running on, and I’ve been on the glance out for such information.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here