Many of the Somalians living in Oslo, Norway strongly support the Islamist regime now on the run in their homeland
"If the Ethiopians continue to occupy Somalia, we won't sit here. We will go back to Somalia and fight as one!" says Zakharia Ahmed, banging his fist on the table.
The scene is the Café Bolsho in Oslo's downtown immigrant district Grønland. Dozens of compatriots are gathered round in the noisy café, and Ahmed clearly has full support. "Yes, we will go back and fight," the others shout.
Aftenposten has chosen this Somali café at random. The conversation is animated, takes place in Somali, English and Norwegian, and here there is total agreement.
"What this is about is that the regime in Ethiopia has not forgotten the war in 1977 when Somalia went into the Ogaden province in Ethiopia. Now the rulers in Addis Abeba are out for revenge. The so-called UN-recognized government in Somalia is nothing but marionettes for the Ethiopians. I have been in contact with my relatives in Mogadishu. Ethiopian soldiers are already raping women and cutting the throats of civilians in the city. It is all in return for their humiliating defeat in 1977," says Abdi Muhamed, who lived in Mogadishu before coming to Norway four years ago.
The café crowd, entirely made up of young men, emphasize strongly that the Islamist regime in Somalia brought law and order to a country marked by 16 years of fear and chaos. Muhamed is convinced, though he hasn't seen it first hand.
"I have not been in Somalia for a long time but my sister has been back to Mogadishu after the Islamists came to power. She said that everything was better. This is also the impression I get when I talk to relatives in Somalia. There is virtually no one in Somalia, or Somalians here in Norway, who do not support the Islamist regime," Muhamed says.
Some Somalian leaders in Norway do take an opposing stance. Shirdon M. Abdikarim, head of the Somalian Council in Norway, which includes 11 member organizations, said his group wholeheartedly backs the UN-approved government in Somalia.
"Somalia has never been a sharia (Islamic) state and will not be one in the future," Abdikarim told Aftenposten.
Abdikarim has heard that some Somalians with Norwegian citizenship support the sharia tribunals, as Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi was quoted as saying in an interview with Norwegian web site Nettavisen on Thursday. Gedi also was cited as saying significant sums of money were being transferred to the Islamists via Norway.
"There are 8,000 Somalians with Norwegian citizenship. Quite a number of Somalian refugees have gone back to their homeland from Norway, but no one knows how many. Somalia's borders have been open in recent years, and there has been no checks of who has traveled in and out of the country," Abdikarim said.
Norway: Somalis In Oslo Supporting Islamists