Violence has cut through the life of 28-year-old journalist
Abdulahi Ibrahim Dasar, from his high school days in Kismayo, the third-largest
Back in 2001 in Kismayo, Dasar had ambitious plans to become an entrepreneur, but bloodshed from local clan warfare forced his family to seek refuge in
Business was picking up until the streets suddenly erupted in deadly xenophobic violence in May 2008. As one of many Somali shopkeepers targeted in the violence, Dasar told me he has not recovered the 130,000 rand (US$18,600) he estimates to have lost in business.
Pondering his next move, and having no avenue to express his frustration and that of his community, which was increasingly intolerant toward foreigners in a country otherwise regarded as one of the freer democracies in Africa, Dasar teamed up in late 2008 with one of his friend to launch a bimonthly magazine called Qurba-joog (Somali for "diaspora").
Even though Dasar had no journalism training or experience in the profession, the six- page publication did well among the Somali nationals in Cape Town, where it mainly circulated. As a credit to his success, Dasar was asked to become a reporter for Universal TV, a U.K.-based Somali-language satellite network with correspondents and offices in Cape Town. Reporting on local Somali community affairs, he was growing as a journalist.
However, as if caught in déjà vu, Dasar's life was turned
upside down again in May, two years after his business was destroyed. During a
report on the public controversy surrounding
For showing the Mail & Guardian's cartoon while reporting on the controversy, Dasar also became a target of Somalia's Al-Shabaab insurgents, particularly the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab, which have in the past claimed responsibility for killings of journalists in Somalia. The group first banned Universal TV in its strongholds in Somalia and issued a fatwa calling for Dasar's assassination. The insurgents claimed on their website that Dasar was paid by Christian churches to humiliate Muslims and the prophet.
Dasar rejects the accusations. "I have been shocked and wonder why these people think and believe that I can abuse or support people who abuse Prophet Muhammad. I am also a Muslim and therefore, he is also my prophet. I'm a born Muslim and I will die a Muslim, God willing," he told CPJ. Al-Shabaab would not accept Dasar's apology, which he issued on government station Radio Mogadishu.
Within two days of the broadcast, Dasar received phone threats in South Africa. "They said they can easily make an explosion in any of my hideouts in South Africa," he said.
11 terrorist attacks in
Since the threats, Universal TV, under pressure, suspended Dasar. He is a father of four and the sole breadwinner for his family. Currently without a job or income and uncertain of what his future holds, Dasar told me he remains a committed Muslim and a member of the independent press and nothing will force him from either. His immediate concern, however, is protecting his life.(Reporting from