Members of the Somali and Turkish communities in Columbus, Ohio commemorated the tragic events in Soma, Turkey that cost the lives of over 300 Turkish mine workers. The memorial event was held at the popular Istanbul Cafe restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. The program was hosted by members of the Somali community in Columbus, Ohio the second largest settlement for Somali’s in the United States and attended by members from both communities. Mr. Saber Motlu of the Columbus Turkish Community Center and Mr. Serkan Aykan of the Niagara Foundation, a Turkish organization as well as other influential members of the Ohio Turkish Community attended the event. Dr. Abdinur Mohamud, former Minister of Education of Somalia highlighted the significance of the historical and contemporary relationship between the peoples of Turkey and Somalia underscoring the critical importance of the Turkish Government and people’s solidarity with the Somali people as they continue to struggle to bounce back from two decades of civil war. Dr. Mohamud expressed deep sorrow on the tragic loss of the Turkish miners and conveyed heartfelt condolences on behalf of the Somali community and the Somali people at large to the Government and people of Turkey and particularly the affected families and community of Soma.
Mr. Abdullahi Salad Warsame, Former Mayor of Mogadishu who was among a U.S. based Somali business group that travelled to Turkey a year earlier visiting business and cultural centers in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and the City of Soma described the group’s fond memories on the hospitality and friendliness of the Turkish people and particularly the people of Soma where the tragic event took place. Mr. Warsame recalled how Governor Abdulkadir of the western Turkey region hosted the Somali delegation to a popular play at the Soma theatre showcasing whirling dervishes reciting poetry and displaying Turkish cultural dance.
Speaking on the tragic events in Soma, Mr. Abdulkadir Ali Abdi an environmental scientist spoke about the complexities in mining operations and the need in the future to improve safety standards and quality control regulations at every level so that catastrophic events like this can be prevented.
Other Somali intellectuals who spoke at event described the visible developmental projects currently undertaken by the Turkish Government including reconstruction of schools, hospitals, mosques, public roads and so many other initiatives improving the quality of everyday life of the Somali people across the country. It is because of this unparalleled goodwill gesture, effective developmental approach applicable to situations like Somalia that members of the Ohio community felt compelled to reciprocate the generosity of the Turkish people and Government towards the people of Somalia and by standing side by side with them in their hour of need.
Members of the Somali Community plan to hold special funeral prayers in absentia at Islamic Centers throughout the City of Columbus for Friday May 23, 2014.
Speaking on behalf of the Turkish community, Mr. Serkan Aykan of the Niagara Foundation thanked the Somali community leaders for organizing this thoughtful memorial event for the people of Soma and Turkey and that it deeply and truly touched their hearts. Mr. Aykan promised that he and his team will convey the condolences and gratitude of the Somali people to the Government and people of Turkey.