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article imageSharia in Somalia: Al-Shabab rules just like the Afghan Taliban

By R. C. Camphausen     Aug 21, 2010 in World
Somalia has rarely been a place where life was good, but it has all become worse since the failed state agreed, in 2009, to militant's demands to introduce Islamic Law, and now Al-Shabab rules much of the country just like the Taliban did in Afghanistan.
Somalia has been topping the charts of so-called failed states for three years in a row. It has been called the hellhole of the world, and today's New York Times draws our attention to the fact that the local Islamist militia, known as Al-Shabab, looks more and more like the Taliban.
In fact, the article says, quoting Afghan author Vahid Mujdeh, ''Al-Shabab is copying exactly whatever the Taliban was doing in the late 1990s, because they think the strategies the Taliban employed in Afghanistan were successful."
Success, in this case, means complete subjugating of the entire population to an extreme version of Shari'a (anglicised as sharia), the so-called sacred law of Islamic doctrine -- the Law of Allah the Merciful, Praised Be His Name. Now while the codified Shari'a of old is stringent enough, at least there were judges, Islamic scholars, involved who would weigh each case before sentencing.
With the contemporary Afghan Taliban or Somalia's Al-Shabab, that's not the case. Not only do they play prosecutor, judge, and executioner all in one, they also have introduced new rules never mentioned in the Koran. For example, all men are forced to grow beards, no one is allowed to watch sports on TV, music is outlawed, and women are not allowed to wear a bra. A website called Beyond Satire has described how armed men round up the women in a village and inspect their breasts, forcing those wearing a bra to discard it, claiming the women violate Islamic teachings by using deception.
Limbs of men and women are chopped off as punishment for stealing, executions by stoning, shooting or beheading are carried out in the village square. We've know public spectacles like this in the Middle Ages, and a remnant of it remains when in the contemporary US people go and watch the execution of a convict sentenced to death. In Somalia, however, the scenes are generally more spectacular and bloody. Two months ago, for example, Al-Shabab accused a 27-year-old of being a government spy. Considering he had talkd too much, they simply cut off his tongue.
Other examples of sharia modern style involve women who try to make a meager living by selling tea on the market. Members of Al-Shabab either whip, flog or jail such women, on the grounds that their business practice brings them into contact with men, which is forbidden. Not only can women be beaten by their husband whenever he believes they misbehave, they can't drive cars, they can't leave the house without being accompanied by a male family member.
But even a woman who abides by these rules is not entirely safe from the terrorist organization. The New York Times article has an example of that at the end of today's article: A 26-year-old woman named Ubah felt al-Shabab's brutality firsthand.
She was visiting a money-changer in the southern town of Kismayo with a male cousin when two young militants accused them of engaging in an illicit relationship after they couldn't show proof they were related. Hours later the militants whipped Ubah and her cousin -- 80 lashes for the man and 50 for Ubah.
"I was crying and I thought they would never release me,'' Ubah told AP, asking that her last name not be used for fear of militant reprisals. ''I couldn't move because there were men with guns.''
She said the militants warned that if the two were seen together again they would be stoned to death.
More about Islamic militants, Somalia, Sharia, Taliban, Al-shabab
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