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More Warning Signs Of Islamic Courts Influence In Somaliland & Desperate Need For Somaliland Response And Message

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More Warning Signs Of Islamic Courts Influence In Somaliland & Desperate Need For Somaliland Response And Message

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By Rashid Nur, Virginia, USA

OpinionI have used this article to warn Somaliland people about the imminent threat from those who sympathize with the Islamic Courts from Mogadishu and who are prominent members of their community in Somaliland. I wrote an article when the conservative religious group demonstrated in Buroa and Hargeysa, I warned when the conservative religious community leaders have burned the daily newspaper Haatuf in Buroa, and I have written about the founder of Al-Itahad Sheikh Ali Warsame who lives in Buroa and have recently came back from extended visit to Mogadishu where he publicly admitted to have met with the leaders of the Islamic Courts. Each time, I have received public and private responses that informed me how wrong and totally off the mark my assertions were, in certain cases I was accused of supporting corrupt and inept government by creating non-existent crises to appeal to the patriotic emotions of the people expecting them to rally around their government in times of crisis; in any case I have not seen significant security concerns from Somaliland leaders or people, with the exception of the Haatuf Newspapers articles and editorials.

The recent meeting this week in Buroa has been organized by the traditional leader Sultan Osman Sultan Ali Sultan Mader, the meeting attracted more than 200 participants who represented the religious community, traditional leaders, and members of the civil society, though all of them were from the same clan, and the meeting concluded with a resolution that pledged to follow and govern the (clan) community with the Islamic Sharia law with no mention of the Somaliland constitution; the resolutions included a selection of 71 member committee who were asked to implement Islamic Sharia Law in the community (this governing body will compete with the elected officials from Togdheer region for power and it is essentially the first step of declaring Islamic Court), resolutions called upon the other Somaliland communities to do the same, and appealed to President Dahir Rayale to follow Islamic Sharia Law. In reports from the BBC Sultan Osman made contradictory statement by claiming to support the sovereignty of the Somaliland nation – despite his pledge to support Islamic Sharia Law at the expense of the Somaliland Constitution.

The meeting followed several demonstrations to support Islamic Courts in Hargeysa and Buroa, burning of all the copies of the daily newspaper Haatuf in Buroa for being critical of Islamic Courts in Mogadishu, press releases calling on people to support Islamic Sharia Law in Somaliland, and highly publicized visits of prominent religious community leaders from Somaliland visiting Mogadishu and meeting publicly with the leaders from the Islamic Courts. It is very simple to connect the dotes here; I forget to mention the Islamic Courts have temporarily changed their consistent message about Unity of Somalia, and for the first time publicly apologized to the Somaliland people for the atrocities committed by the Barre regime against the Somaliland people and pledged to pay compensation for property and personal damages.

The Islamic Courts from Mogadishu have played several cards all of which earned them significant public relations gains in Somaliland and presented a very difficult choices for Somaliland leaders to respond to: the first card was the call to support Islamic Sharia Law, the next card was their pledge not to endanger the peace in Somaliland, the third card was their apology for atrocities committed by Barre’s regime and pledge to pay for property and personal damages to individuals, and finally the use of passive aggressive language such as “pledging to protect the peace achieved by our brothers from Somaliland”. They have committed only one mistake when one of the leaders from Kismayo threatened to free by force the religious leaders in Somaliland jails who were accused of terrorism charges. So far the Islamic Courts have shown exceptional discipline for not making offensive remarks towards Somaliland people; this has indeed taken away the Somaliland leaders any reason to directly attack the Islamic Courts beyond stating their commitment to the sovereignty of the Somaliland.

This meeting provides one more glaring sign of warning about the eminent security threat from the messages from the Islamic Courts and from the sympathizers of the Islamic Courts in Mogadishu who also hold influence in their Somaliland community – including traditional leaders, religious leaders, and from civil society as well. It is extremely difficult for Somaliland politicians to publicly advocate rejecting Islamic Sharia Law, hence the people have detected the implied acceptance, projected by their silence, to the call to follow Islamic Sharia law in Somaliland. The first politician to reject this message publicly and directly will pay a heavy political price and none of them are prepared to go that far. That means any response they can possible make to the call from Islamic Courts in Mogadishu regarding their message to follow Islamic Sharia Law is not negative one and that gives the advantage to Islamic Courts to hammer the same message again and again. The Islamic Courts are also the first political entity from Somalia that have publicly apologized for the genocide committed by Barre’s regime and pledged compensation for property and personal damages to individuals from Somaliland; again Somaliland leaders cannot respond negatively to this message and most of them choose to ignore it – again the advantage goes to the message of the Islamic Courts. Lately the Islamic Courts consistently pledge not to do anything that will jeopardize the peace in Somaliland, and again it is very difficult to object or respond negatively to this message – that gives advantage again to Islamic Courts. Just in case you are wondering what the Somaliland government has been doing to counter act this continuous passive aggressive attack from Islamic Courts the answer is absolutely nothing – no response, dead silence, except casual pledge to commitment to sovereignty of Somaliland, and contradictory statement about their commitment to Islamic Sharia Law as called for by Somaliland Constitution. The last point about the constitution supporting Islamic Sharia Law is pure fiction and has absolutely no reference in the constitution.

Suppose we all agree that we have corrupt and inept government, which has as many criticisms as you can possible make; given that reality how can we realistically respond to the security threats from Islamic Courts, because if we don’t do that at the present time, the opposition parties may not have an opportunity to take power through the ballot box, if it were up to those who sympathize with Islamic Courts elections are totally unnecessary and the people need the religious committee leaders to select the national leaders, not the general public through western means i.e. elections and ballot box. The people must follow the teachings of the Koran, traditions of Prophet Mohamed, and guidance from their religious leaders.

The meeting in Buroa and its resolutions is one more warning to the Somaliland people in general and Diaspora in particular to open their eyes to the clever tactics of the Islamic Courts from Mogadishu and the need to help the Somaliland leaders to define a message that will help them counter balance the constant passive-aggressive attacks from Islamic Courts in Mogadishu. The Somaliland message must emphasize and revolve around the success and the means the people of Somaliland had used to achieve them; peace, democracy, respect for the rule of law, respect for the traditional leaders, and the Islamic traditions of the Somaliland people, a symbol of the Islamic Traditions can be found in the writings on the Somaliland flag, which states one of the pillars of Islam. That is a powerful message, which moves the debate from religion and faith to a preferred model of selecting national leaders, and government for the people by the people. We have got to move debate from religion to preferred form of government, which is the crux of this debate; those who advocate for Islamic Sharia Law believes the people do not have the right to elect their leaders and they must accept the choices made for them by their religious leaders through committee process, and essentially saying the people do not know what is good for them, but the religious community know what is good for them, because they are scholars of the religion and teachings of the Koran.

Somaliland has received one more significant warning message, about the security threat from the Islamic Courts from Mogadishu, as shown from the recent meeting in Buroa where a community has pledged their adherence to Islamic Sharia Law, implied rejection of the Somaliland Constitution, and created a governing body that competes with the elected officials by the people via elections. If this warning is ignored or the response is not strong enough the next step will be the declaration of Islamic Courts in Buroa, and Somaliland will be very close to war between government and clans mixed with Islamic extremism; the last time there was conflict between government and clans there was significant amount of human loss and unaccounted property damage, not to mention the damage of the Somaliland reputation in the International community. I sincerely hope the readers of this article will recognize this danger, support democratic process, and the constitution of Somaliland publicly at the expense of calls for following Islamic Sharia Law in Somaliland – you must recognize silence implies support for Islamic Sharia Law in Somaliland and a rejection of Somaliland Constitution. I’m confident my people will make the right choice and keep their religion as a matter between them and their almighty God, and support constitution and democratic process in Somaliland as the preferred system to govern the society and elect leaders of the nation.


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