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Westernised Children of Somalis are being Forcibly Detained for Years ‘Back Home’

Dhaqan celis is a well-known phenomenon in the Somali diaspora, where parents often feel their children have become too westernised. It can be translated as “return to culture” and may just involve being sent to live with relatives in Somalia. But in recent years, dhaqan celis has come to mean cultural re-education centres, offering an experience like a boarding school or boot camp, with a robust Islamic education and strict routines to straighten out attenders. Dhaqan celis centres emerged as children of refugees who fled Somalia’s civil war in the early 1990s reached adolescence. Facebook and Google feature innocuous pictures of exteriors and promises that the centres rehabilitate young people who disobey their parents or use drugs. Some feature videos of young Somalis talking positively about their experiences at these centres.