http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/293562

Somalis face a public flogging for watching World Cup on TV

Posted Jun 18, 2010 by Andrew John
Islamic militants in Somalia are preventing soccer fans from watching World Cup games , threatening them with public flogging.
The official match ball at the South Africa FIFA World Cup
The official match ball at the South Africa FIFA World Cup
chooyutshing
The militants say soccer originated among Christians, and that it’s “un-Islamic”.
Some people are said to be watching the games in secret with the sound turned down, or in areas that are patrolled by government forces. But they face flogging or death if caught, says the BBC.
Militants killed two people on Saturday when they descended on a house where a World Cup match was being watched on TV.
The BBC quotes Sheikh Mohammed Abdi Aros, the leader of the militant group, as saying: “We are warning all the youth of Somalia not to dare watch these World Cup matches. It is a waste of money and time and they will not benefit anything or get any experience by watching mad men jumping up and down.”
The BBC story continues: “Dedicated football fans have few safe places to go if they want to watch Africa’s first World Cup, with the al-Qaeda inspired group al-Shabab also announcing a ban.”
The story quotes one man as saying he’s having to watch the games with the sound turned down while he has one eye on the TV and the other on the door.
“The ban dates back to a law that was introduced by the Islamic Courts Union who took control of much of Somalia for six months in 2006,” says the BBC story.
A number of activities are considered “un-Islamic”, including video games and watching sports in public.
Because few Somalis can afford their own satellite TV, public screenings are the only way many can watch the games.
Pictures of Mohammed
The BBC says al-Shabab have singled out one particular broadcaster, Universal TV, because, it’s said, they broadcast pictures of the Muslims’ prophet Mohammed. They are “enemies of Islam”, says the group.
The Ekklesia religious think-tank carries a story on its website, quoting a man whose son has been seized and held in custody by the Islamists.
“This is oppression in its worst form that must not be allowed to continue,” the man says.
And Ekklesia quotes the Rev. Pius Rutechura, general secretary of the Catholic group the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in East Africa: “The Somali people should be allowed to watch the matches as it is their right. We should not tie any games to any religion.”