Somalian Islamist Insurgents

A few weeks ago I saw an article in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/world/africa/16somalia.html?ref=global-home) that talked about how The Shabab, a militant Islamist group in Somalia, had outlawed school bells in the town of Jowhar. The reasoning behind the ban was that the ringing of the bells went against the teachings of Islam. The article also detailed other harsh restrictions that Islamist groups were putting in place across certain pockets of Somalia in which they have control, such as banning bras, soccer, music on radio stations, etc.

Finding some of these bans, particularly the ban on school bells, to be rather interesting (and frankly, odd) I decided to ask my pen pal Aladin (who is a Muslim) what he thought about them.

Comically, his first “off the cuff” response was, “These guys should take a vacation in Hawaii or something, they are a pain in the ass. Why don’t they leave people living in peace?”  I found this to be quite funny, but then pressed him for a more elaborate response, which I have recorded below:

“Somali dudes, they are insulting us as Muslims. Cutting the hand and feet of a thief was in the old days. I can’t lie and tell you it doesn’t exist in our religion, but this was in an era where man was not that much civilized. Times are changing and I do believe that punishment is government responsibility and god in the life and in the after life, not human and insurgent guys. Those guys do not represent Islam they are representing that kind of tribal leadership.”

Not surprisingly, Aladin’s viewpoint confirmed what I think many people don’t understand in the United States, which is the fact that most Muslims disagree with the extreme practices instituted in the name of Islam.