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Response To: “War On Use Of Khat Ignores A Culture.”

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Response To: “War On Use Of Khat Ignores A Culture.”

By Zamira Hassan, Anti-Khat Activist

Our men have become lazy over the years because of the widespread trade that forces them to just sit and enjoy the product. Our children have nothing to eat, let alone go to school, because their fathers cannot work. -Rukia Osman Mahmoud, Anti-khat Activist

His recent article, published: August 12, 2006, Star Tribune, “War on use of khat ignores a culture,” Omar Jamal was frustrated to distinguish between the defendant and the related drug—Khat. His attempt to assist the defendants blinded him to decipher that Khat has the potential to destroy family, society and one's self. Despite his effort, Mr. Jamal contradicted himself by saying one thing and writing something opposite. He wrote in his article, “In all fairness, khat in its natural form is harmless and rich in Vitamin C…” Astonishingly, an interview with Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio, November 30, 2004, Mr. Jamal said that, “…he's seen chronic khat use lead to the breakup of families” This raises the question; is Khat “harmless” or does Khat “lead to the breakup of families?” what is Mr. Jamal’s position? He is confused. The events galvanized Mr. Jamal to react emotionally rather than rationally which results his grave discrepancies.

To add insult into injury, despite its “vitamin C” and “harmlessness,” Mr. Jamal promoted its legalization. His unprecedented evil advocacy of legalizing and, therefore, consuming Khat exposed his selfish motive of seeking on his own advantage without regard for others. Anyone with a right mind and the right intention would appose legalizing Khat. Mr. Jamal argued that, “…Khat has been around for centuries in the Somali community, and the concept of it being illegal is something foreign to the community.” Again, Mr. Jamal fails miserably to recall that our former government, despite its shortcomings, prohibited importing Khad into our country knowing full well its destruction to our society. Further, our spiritual leaders, elders, educators, parents and especially women strongly and consistently condemn its consumption.

To score a point, Mr. Jamal criticized the law enforcement, “…Southern District of New York classified khat as a dangerous drug.” Indeed it’s dangerous drug. As mentioned in the Center for Substance Abuse Research, “According to the World Health Organization, khat is classified as an abusive drug that can produce mild to moderate psychic dependence. Cathine, a Schedule IV drug, and Cathinone, a Schedule I drug, are khat’s two active ingredients.” Another study by P. Kalix of the University of Geneva (1991, 1992), has shown, that “…Prolonged anorexia associated with khat use leads to malnutrition and increased susceptibility to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.” Endless scholarly studies have shown repeatedly the negative impact of Khad on individual and society. Simply, our devastating experience with Khat is unbearable and undeniable.

In addition, Khat addiction is associated with violence and crime. Last year, as Minnesota Public Radio reported, “Hennepin County Attorney's office has charged five men with second degree murder for the recent homicide of a young Somali woman in Minneapolis... They say the men -- who are all Somalis -- shot the woman over an illegal drug.” One may ask; what stimulated those Somali young men to murder the woman? Let UNODC, United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, answer it; “…such behavior strongly suggests the development of psychic dependence and is reflected in excessive consumption of khat, with an associated decrease in economic productivity through reduction of working hours because of time spent on chewing khat.”

As Somali community, we should elect leaders who are responsive, accountable and responsible. Leaders who have the knowledge needed to lead the community. Mr. Jamal doesn’t represent Somali community since no one elected him. He is self-appointed “advocate” who doesn’t have the capacity and the expertise to lead our community. One might advice; Mr. Jamal, please, go back to college and, at least, acquire a degree of law before misleading our community.


Unless, we, individually and collectively, stand up and bring to an end to those who benefited so far from the expense of our society, don’t expect any change soon. Everyone has the responsibility to abandon and eliminate those merciless Khat-dealers. No one in his right mind should tolerate the consumption of Khat. It is a deadly poison to our society and, especially, to our next generation. If we commit ourselves to maintain and strength, we will prevail, Insha Allaah.



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