The Nation (Nairobi)

Somalia: No Music, Somali Radio Ordered

Mogadishu — A senior Islamist official has given radio stations in Somalia a 10-day notice to stop playing music.

"It is against Islam to play music and other lyrics... We should have banned music right now but we want to give you 10 days so that you remove all music and melody containing cassettes," said Sheikh Moalim Hashi Mohamed Farahhe.

The notice started on April 3.

Sheikh Farahhe is in charge of Mogadishu for Hizbu Islam, one of the Islamist movements opposing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

He said the Islamists do not care how the outside world will react to the ban.

"They will say that we interfered with civil liberties, but we care less," he said.

The Islamist official also insisted that Muslim jihadists coming to fight alongside the local Islamists could not be called foreigners.

Consequently, he ordered all broadcasters to refrain from calling the jihadists coming to Somalia "aliens".

He said the foreigners were the African Union peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi.

"How can you refer to a fellow Muslim who came to join the local jihad as a foreigner?" Sheikh Farakhe asked reporters attending his press conference.

He said his movement would invite Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda to Somalia.

"We are all brothers and we are all committed to the struggle in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Palestine and Somalia."

Al-Shabaab and Hizbu Islam, the two radical Islamist groups vehemently opposing the government and the AU peacekeepers, have introduced many measures restricting civil and press freedoms.

However, Radio Mogadishu, a station revived by the TFG several months ago, has become popular because it can transmit programmes independent of the Islamists' bans.

"Radio Mogadishu is expected to become even more popular, especially if the dozen independent broadcasters in the city stop playing music," Hassanow Qalli, a resident of Mogadishu who has been involved in Somali folk dances and cultural displays, told the Nation.

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