Islamists ban music in areas of Somalia
According to an Islamic official in Somalia, music is now banned in the country, and anyone violating the music ban could be arrested, fined and flogged. Initially, a Somali radio station has been closed down for broadcasting love songs
Authorities backed by the Islamic Courts Union in Jowhar, some 90 kilometers north of the capital Mogadishu, shut Radio Jowhar on 11 September 2006, and ordered that its electricity be cut, according to The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and international news reports.
The Associated Press quoted an Islamic official, Sheik Mohamed Mohamoud Abdirahman, as saying that the station’s programmes were “un-Islamic” and that that Radio Jowhar was closed because it aired the “banned music”, music that promotes evil behavior. He said that it was “useless to air music and love songs for the people” and that “we cannot have a radio station playing evil music as we are trying to promote Sharia law across Somalia.”
Agreed to tight restrictions
The shutdown, though aimed at musical content, silenced news programming on Radio Jowhar for two days. The station went back on the air after agreeing to tight restrictions on musical content.
Some Johwhar residents called the move the beginning of censorship against free media. The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has condemned the close of the independent radio station, terming it barbaric.
The Weekly Standard and other American newspapers have called the Somali Islamists “The New Taliban” because the ICU seeks to implement a similarly harsh version of sharia (Islamic law) wherever it has gained power. In addition to shooting two people who demanded to watch the World Cup semifinal, the ICU has also arrested sixty people for watching videos, and cracked down on a wedding with live music. They have flogged several people in the capital and outlying outposts for violating Islamic law in recent weeks. Also, they have reportedly harassed civilians, mainly women, for failing to wear appropriate dress in public in the areas which are under their control.
The Islamic Courts Union
The Islamic Courts Union, ICU, took control of the capital Mogadishu on 5 June 2006, and now controls large areas of southern Somalia. They are currently expanding their influence to the central regions.
Somalia has not had a national army or an effective central authority since the fall of the last government more than 15 years ago. The country’s present transitional government is considered fragile and weak, even though it is backed by the United Nations and neighboring countries including Ethiopia.
One of the leaders of the Islamic Courts Union, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, has stated that he wishes to turn Somalia back to the 7th century: “Our model is to go back to the government during the life of the prophet Muhammad,” he has been quoted as saying. To him, that includes amputating limbs of robbers, executing killers in public and stoning adulterers to death – a far more conservative vision of Islam than has ever been practiced in Somalia.
Committee to Protect Journalists – 12 September 2006:
‘ICU authorities censor radio station, detain journalist’
Threatswatch.org – 7 September 2006:
‘Islamic Courts Union Consolidates Hold in Somalia’
Latest on Google News:
Search on ‘ICU’ + ‘Somalia’ + ‘music’