Men are afraid of this Swedish woman who is putting Somalia in order | Foreign countries

Men are afraid of this Swedish woman who is putting

MOGADISHU Cycle rickshaws cruise along paved, well-maintained roads. Here and there you see young couples in beach restaurants, parks and walking hand in hand taking selfies. There are sounds of construction all around.

Not long ago, the soundscape of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, was dominated by gunshots. Just a year ago, suicide attacks and assassinations were commonplace. It’s been a couple of years since the gigantic terrorist attack that claimed 120 lives in the premises of the Ministry of Education.

Somalia has been in a continuous civil war for 30 years, but now the fighting and violence seem to have stopped. What exactly happened?

– Mogadishu has gone through really difficult times. The situation is truly calm now. The new government has made a major reform of the security system, he explains Zakia Hussein.

Hussein, 40, is the first female deputy police chief in Somalia’s history, and is Swedish.

The way to calm down

Hussein seems to be modest as well, because he does not mention himself, even though many consider him to be the key factor in pacifying Mogadishu.

Hussein has held his position since 2018 and has implemented significant projects. One of them is the city-wide public emergency number 911.

– At first it was opposed and it was said that the emergency center would not work here. In Sweden, I got used to the fact that if something happens, I don’t call my grandfather but the police, says Hussein.

An important decision after studies

Hussein was six years old when his family fled the Somali civil war in 1990. The family settled in Eslöv in southern Sweden.

That’s where Hussein grew up. He became actively involved in the development of Somalia after moving to Britain at the age of 22.

Hussein lived in London and was 29 years old when he made the biggest decision of his life: he would return to his native country to fight there for women’s rights and equality.

– It was extremely challenging to return without my family to the place I had left at the age of six. But I had the support of my family and it was important to me and my family that I contribute to the reconstruction of Somalia.

In the video below, Hussein talks about his work:

The year he returned to Somalia was in 2013. Hussein had studied international politics and diplomacy in London, and his first job in Mogadishu was as a program manager for the Heritage Institute think tank.

Hussein worked developing cooperation between civil society, organizations and state institutions. In 2018, he became the Deputy Chief of the Somali Police Force.

Terrorist madness still torments

Hussein’s big projects as deputy chief of the police force include the establishment of hundreds of checkpoints in Mogadishu and beyond. The goal of the operation is to identify the perpetrators of the terrorist organization Al-Shabab.

Al-Shabaab is one of the most well-known terrorist organizations in Africa, which was born in 2006 after Ethiopia occupied Somalia. The organization received the support of the Somalis and drove the Ethiopian troops out of the country in 2010.

Al-Shabaab soon controlled almost all of Somalia and meted out brutal punishments such as stoning and amputations to those it considered un-Islamic.

Even today, Hussein considers Al-Shabaab’s constant death threats and assassination attempts to be the biggest challenge for Mogadishu and the entire Somali society.

– These terrorists are Somalis. They live among us and are in schools, universities, business and even government, and fighting them requires an understanding of their ideology and principles. They have a wide influence on the entire economy of Somalia, says Hussein.

In his opinion, it is clear that Somalia needs more security forces in its fight against Al-Shabaab.

Hussein himself is on the terrorist organization’s kill list. He represents everything that the organization opposes. According to the terrorist organization, women’s place is at home and not especially as a police officer. Hussein has also trained male police officers on the importance of human rights and equality between women and men.

– The police have caught women recruited by Al-Shabaab, who have attempted a suicide attack on me, Hussein says.

Life in Somalia is not without danger for Hussein, but he does not regret leaving safe Sweden. She feels that she is a pioneer and a role model for other women in that women can create their own careers and achieve a significant position in society.

Under his leadership, a record number of female police officers have been recruited to the Mogadishu police force. Hussein more than doubled the proportion of women from 6 to 13 percent quickly.

That can be considered progress in a male-dominated country. The strength of the city police is about 14,000 people.

According to Hussein, a change in attitude towards female police officers has already been achieved.

– And if we want to fight Al-Shabaab’s ideology at the grassroots level, increasing the number of women in the security sector is important in such a patriarchal society, says Hussein.

Hussein is not married and has no children. He has four siblings, and they live in Sweden and London.

President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud asked Hussein once why he doesn’t get married.

– I said that I can’t get married because Somali men are afraid of me, Hussein says.

Hussein is not the only Swedish-Somali in Mogadishu. There has been some return migration to Somalia with a population of 17 million recently.

There are no exact figures, but for example, Finnish and Swedish restaurants have opened in Mogadishu. One of the most famous hospitals in Mogadishu is also owned by a Finnish-Somali doctor Mohammed Guledin founded by Guled previously worked as a cardiologist in Tampere.

In total, three million Somalis fled the civil war to the world over the years.

What Hussein loved the most in Sweden was trust. He dreams of a Somali society where he can live as confidently as in Sweden.

– Life in Sweden taught me that through the appreciation and equality of people, a society can be born where citizens trust the police, the authorities and each other.