Calendar / Networking

Al Jazeera’s Rageh Omaar in Minneapolis

This is a short notice, I just learned about this event (scroll to the bottom of this page for details on event). Rageh Omaar is an internationally renowned reporter. He worked for the BBC for a few years where he covered the conflicts in Somalia and Iraq. However, what makes Omaar stand out and what has made him, perhaps one of the best investigative reporters on broadcast, is his work on Al Jazeera.

Interestingly, he left the BBC because he felt that the network did not allow him the freedoms to tell the stories that he wanted to. Quote from Wikipedia:

“I wanted to be an independent journalist who did projects for the people I wanted. I wanted to be free”. On being asked if he could have had more influence by staying he replied: “I don’t think so. Many people from many backgrounds at the BBC have tried.”

Omaar has also referred to the BBC as a “white man’s club”:

Omaar’s half-hour daily show Witness (“the lives of ordinary people, their unique stories and challenges”presents superior reporting on issues in the southern hemisphere: gender rights and civil liberties; economic and global politics; and the impact of national policies on the lives of individuals. Incidentally, Omaar did a powerful documentary on Iran in 2007 that was one of the best coverage I have seen showing contemporary Iran.. a documentary that would best explain the current events in Iran. (unfortunately, I cannot find this documentary anywhere online)

Al Jazeera had tried to get licensing in the US for two years and failed.. mostly because Americans suspect the channel is anti-American. In 2008 Witness and other Al Jazeera shows began airing on LinkTV (in St. Paul its on channel 375 on Dish).  You can also watch shows on Al Jazeera’s Youtube channel. If you are interested in learning more about the Middle East, Mosaic is an excellent show that has indepth coverage of the region. (LinkTV has its own great shows like Global Pulse that has 30 minute reports and documentaries from around the world.)

Omaar is actually not the main speaker at the event. Photographer Abdi Roble who has chronicled the lives of Somalis from their country to different parts of the world, will be the main speaker ( review on the Somali Diaspora Project.)  He is now working on another project: the Somali Documentary Project: Human Rights and the Somali Diaspora; a timely conference considering the recent spurt of violence in Somalia that resulted in the death of several people including a police chief; and reports of suicide bombing that killed among others the country’s Security Minister and Somali Ambassador to Ethiopia.

If you have time this evening, come over to the event and see what young Somali activists are doing to change the narrative of their home country, and that of their community here in their adopted country.

Contact Nimco Ahmed at 612 685 6008 or Warsame Warsame at 612 695-2375. Event begins at 5:30pm at the Taj Mahal Banquet Hall in Minneapolis. 3015 Cedar Ave South.


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