Home News Ireland News Irish-Somali advocate: People say Ireland is racist but it is improving

Irish-Somali advocate: People say Ireland is racist but it is improving

Ifrah Ahmed’s story is told in A Girl From Mogadishu

By David Hennessy

The Irish-Somali advocate for eradicating female genital mutilation Ifrah Ahmed says she does not believe Ireland is racist but that it is actually improving due to greater integration of different races.

Ifrah Ahmed came to Ireland at the age of 17 when she fled war-torn Somalia. Since arriving in the country she has become an advocate for ending FGM by 2030 and established The Ifrah Foundation for this reason.

Ifrah Ahmed told The Irish World: “People say Ireland is racist but I believe that if you are open and share, you can help people to realise that we are all the same.

“In the beginning, people pulled my scarf but I talked to the young people about all of this.

“I believe that integration is about having people understand each other and that has improved over the years.”

There have been many people speaking out about racism in Ireland in recent months. There was a mixed race couple who featured in a LIDL advert and had to leave Ireland after being bombarded with racist abuse. TV presenter Liz Bonnin revealed she was racially abused on the street in Dublin as a teenager.

Aja Naomi King plays Ifrah Ahmed in Mary McGuckian’s film, A Girl From Mogadishu.

The actress Aoife Hinds told The Irish World in November, “I have experienced when I was filming on Normal People (in Ireland), not in the crew obviously, in the street some casual racism.”

A new film, A Girl From Mogadishu, which tells Ifrah’s story, screens this Sunday as part of Irish Film London’s St. Brigid’s Day Festival.

Ifrah continued to say she was proud of the work Ireland is doing on the issue: “I am very proud, Ireland has taken a strong lead in tackling FGM worldwide.

“There are a lot of Irish agencies working on FGM like The Ifrah Foundation, Global Media Campaign to End FGM, with others too like Irish Aid, Human Diginty Foundation, Concern Worldwide and Trocaire.

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“People are saying that the film is an eye opener on other issues too, not just FGM. People see that this is not just my story but that of other women who have survived war and violence. Women come after the movie and hug me saying this is their story too.”

Asked if she thinks the film will encourage other women to share their stories and do what they can to end FGM, Ifrah says: “This is an aspiration of the film- Many people are moved to speak out on FGM and support the work we do after they see the movie.”

A Girl From Mogadishu screens at Regent Street Cinema 7.30pm on Sunday 2 February.  Read our feature on the film and its issues here.

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