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My brush with Islamic justice in Mogadishu was swift and fair

Issue 316
Front Page
Index
Headlines

WFP Country Director Visits Somaliland

Somaliland Water & Minerals Ministry Confirms Contact With Lundin Oil Company

Frazer Made Off-Limits To The Independent Press During Somaliland visit

The Historic Meeting between the Somaliland Cross-parliamentary members and UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group

Somaliland Foreign Minister briefs the House of Representatives

Djibouti votes amid opposition boycott

Somalia: The World's forgotten catastrophe

'No Country Deserves to Go the Somalia Way'

Africa, China's new frontier

Somaliland Mission: Taiwan-Africa Progressive Partnership

The Demise of the American Middle Class

AU elections expose Kenya's lack of clear foreign policy

Regional Affairs

Blasts in Somalia's Puntland Region Kill 20

Major increase in UNDP resources for Somaliland in 2008

Somalia Violence and Displacement Worsen

Editorial
Special Report

International News

The Mediterranean Union: Dividing the Middle East and North Africa

Hijack accused remanded for psychiatric assessment

Chavez Says Exxon Suit May Lead to Oil Cutoff to U.S.

FEATURES & COMMENTARY

The practice—and the theory

Alfred Nobel: Controversial Man, Controversial Awards

My brush with Islamic justice in Mogadishu was swift and fair

Why black history matters to us all

Regeneration: The Iraq War and British-Arab Identity in a Historical Context

Muslim rapper talks of inner conflict

Islamist target Hirsi Ali seeks French protection

Gangsters go global

Food for thought

Opinions

A Reality Check on the Governor of Awdal

The Hygiene And Sanitation Corner

SNM is a monument reflecting the triumph of the human spirit

The Presidential trip: “The Most successful event”

In response To The Funny Kulmiye

Somaliland is at the critical junction

A tribute to Hassan Sheikh Mumin


The Times Correspondent Martin Fletcher is escorted by two members of the Islamic Courts Council
Martin Fletcher, of The Times

February 8, 2008

As one who has been hauled in front of a Sharia court I would like to risk having my hand — or head — chopped off a second time by suggesting that the Archbishop of Canterbury just might have a point.

My brush with Islamic justice occured in December 2006 in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. A popular movement called the Islamic Courts Council had recently seized control of the country, expelling the feuding warlords who had made it a byword for terror over the previous 15 years.

One afternoon Richard Mills, The Times photographer, and I were driving away from the infamous Bakara arms market. In a narrow, rutted sidestreet our way was blocked by an approaching vehicle. Neither driver would give way.

A furious argument flared up, and our bodyguards drew their guns. Happily, ICC policemen arrived in the nick of time and escorted us all to the nearest Sharia court.

We waited in the yard of an old police station. An alleged drug dealer lay on the ground on his stomach, his hands and legs bound together behind his back. Several wretched faces stared out from the dark interiors of cells with barred windows. A bunch of women engaged in some sort of domestic dispute arrived and waited patiently behind us.

Finally the drivers, still arguing furiously, were each told to make their case to a couple of religious elders wearing the ICC's trademark red-and-white checked head dresses. They had barely begun before the impromptu court adjourned to a nearby carpet for sunset prayers.

When it resumed, and both drivers had had their say, the court pronounced. The two men were ordered to apologise to each other, and we were all dismissed while the court turned its attention to the squabbling women.

I would not have liked to be the drug dealer. I would not like to appear before a Sharia court for adultery or murder, or before a Sharia court in some of the world's more extreme Islamic states. But in this instance the court performed its duty with admirable dispatch and minimal fuss and everyone went away happy. It was quicker, cheaper and just as effective as a British magistrates' court.

The Islamic Courts Council is no more. Washington accused it of turning Somalia into a haven for terrorists. Later that December the US-backed an invasion by neighbouring Ethiopia. The Ethiopians replaced the ICC with a deeply unpopular government of former warlords, plunging Somalia back into a raging conflict that now rides roughshod over any sort of justice.

Source: Times Online

 


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