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Witness
Lost Boys
Young Somali men in London feel alienated from UK society - with tragic results.
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2009 11:10 GMT

Watch part two

By: Rageh Omaar & Paul Sapin

Lost to their community and lost to their faith, young Somali men of London are turning to ever more violent forms of street crime.

But it was only when 18-year-old Somali Mahir Osman was murdered in Camden by a 30-strong Somali gang in January 2006, did Somali clan elders realise that things had spiralled beyond their control.

The police got involved and the outcome was three gang members sentenced to life imprisonment, with five others sentenced to lesser jail terms. Somalis today form the largest ethnic group among young offenders incarcerated in the notorious Feltham Young Offender Institution south of London.

In this powerful authored documentary, Rageh Omaar pursues the stories of three recent murders – in Woolwich, Camden and Southall - to try to understand why this new generation of young Somali men are underachieving in education - and what makes them turn on each other.

He speaks to Mahir Osman’s mother, Asha, who believes that the boys struggle because they don't identify with any culture. "They haven’t got Somali culture, they haven't got English culture. They don’t know what they're doing. Really, they don't know. They're a lost generation."

Rageh also goes on the airwaves at a local Muslim radio station to appeal for insight.

Through personal meetings with disgruntled Somali boys, with elders who have taken to patrolling the streets by night for loiterers, and with an extraordinary reconciliation between the parents of Mahir Osman and his killer's parents, Rageh learns that a lack of guidance could be the basis of the youth falling astray.

"Quite a lot of things struck me about what they said," he explains, "But two things stand out. One of them was when one of the boys said: 'You see them, the older Somali guys? They're here day and night, chewing qat, they're spending the family's money, they're not with the kids, they're certainly not giving us any guidance…how on earth can we respect them? And if they dare to try and discipline us, none of us would stand for it.'

"And just as I was leaving," Rageh continues, "one of the boys said something that was really powerful. He said: 'Why are we talking about this when it's ten years too late?'"

Your Comments:

That really touched my heart. what can I say,I know few poeple on that program and few of the that die as well. I would like to say to Rageh and Paul that they did a good job and Ihope that a lot of people change there way and the way they are act in street.
Hamza, United Kingdom

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