Dr. Abdullah Hashi Abib andFather Tom from the Church of St. Anthony in Northern Somalia

A Pivotal Meeting for a Somali Human Rights Advocate

Dr. Abdullah Hashi Abib, Founder and Executive Director of the Rass Institute for Policy Analysis, a non-partisan policy think tank in Mogadishu, grew up in Somalia. The country was ravaged by civil war which left his family committed to do what they could to rebuild their country. They helped launch a university. They raised money to rebuild medical clinics and schools in rural areas. They helped open a veterinary clinic and more. It was difficult work, but their Muslim faith gave them courage.

Despite their years of humanitarian and human rights work, Dr. Abib said that he had never thought much about working with people of different faiths in support of religious freedom. Then he received an invitation to attend the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C. Going to that pivotal event — and meeting 21 Wilberforce there — opened my eyes that people of all faiths can advocate for each other.

“When I learned about the wrongful closing of the Church of St. Anthony in Northern Somalia, I knew I had to act. You see, I learned English at another Catholic Church near where I grew up — and that skill led me to read about democracy and human rights at an American library nearby. The Catholic Church invested in me so I told Father Tom from the Church of St. Anthony, I believe it is my moral obligation to fight for the rights of others.

Now I’m doing quiet advocacy for Father Donovan and I am collaborating with 21 Wilberforce on launching an International Religious Freedom Roundtable in the Horn of Africa — in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djbouti. I’ve chosen to work with 21 Wilberforce because they advocate for all faiths around the world. Their word has honor — they do what they say.”