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Franchised Islamic courts endanger Somali cultural freedoms

By Omar Ahmed


Currently the Islamic courts have gained control over Mogadishu by utilizing special tactics to defeat the inhumane warlords who have been controlling the South for about fifteen years. These tactics have included the hard-line Islamists gave special assignments for every tribe to set up a franchised court. One item however has been forgotten; that is, some of these courts can not fully follow up on the guidelines of traditional Islam, which supposedly Somalis have been practicing since the early 8th century. For instance, the Islamic religion ran parallel to Somali traditions, such as the way that classic poetry combined Islam with the Somali language.

Somalis were praised for the quality of their courage, good moral standards, hospitality, and oral literature, which survived from the colonial times. Somalis are freedom lovers and they express their ideas through highly developed language that alludes to their hidden codes of expression. Those beloved poetic-national hero leaders who championed the cause of defending our motherland in the early ages of Somali history should not be denied the legacy of their distinguished and well-deserved international reputations.

These poets and their readers should not tremble in fear of the wrath of the current fanatical leadership who have banned their work. It is worthwhile to mention that these fanatical leaders have substituted the names of the famous national heroes and classic poets with new lesser known foreign individuals. Now, for instance, when a child is born he or she is virtually brainwashed by these new foreign leaders; the mothers of these children are programmed by these leaders to believe that their traditional Somali language and culture are inferior.

The traditional Somali names are becoming a reason for shame rather than pride, on the basis of the beliefs of these radical leaders. Warsame, for example, is a traditional Somali male name which today hardly seems treated with the respect it deserves. In the good old days, almost every family named at least one son Warsame. The fact is that the traditional Somali names are eroding like ashes in a fire that is rapidly extinguishing. In a short time it is even possible that we may forget how to pronounce the exquisite traditional names. Likewise, the beautiful and expressive Somali language is in grave danger of disappearing. Already, in the earliest stages of the current Islamic Court Council leadership, bans have begun on the use of the cinema and the National Theater on translated films.

In the past, Somalia has been a civilized nation that has had good relations with the rest of the world in terms of knowledge and cultural exchanges. Its universities were well known and respected at home and abroad because of the high quality of education.  Today, however, new institutions are being built that propagate a hidden curriculum devoted to the extremists. Recently, even the traditional Somali dress is not considered attractive. Rather the Somali people are almost brainwashed into believing that the traditional Somali clothing is a reason for shame and embarrassment, and that it is emblematic of paganism. Such a state of current affairs is deplorable. Our Somali culture is rich and deep and should be a matter of pride, not a target for eradication.
Reconciliation among the rival factions of Somali tribes is essential. To do this though, we cannot mindlessly compromise and destroy the age old traditions of Somali culture. Neither can we accept blindly the substitution of Somali culture to a  borrowed foreign culture. We have banned our poets and authors to the great detriment of our rich culture. The franchised Islamic court leaders have not been mindful of the struggle of the Somali language to resist domination and to survive the current invasion of the cross-cultural era. Somalis in the Diaspora train their children to retain their culture but this is not always possible. For instance, children may not have opportunities to learn and to speak Somali daily at school or in the community or even at home.

Every Somali man dreams of to go back to his beloved country where we once had good neighbors, beautiful beaches, and a warm welcoming climate. We wish to speak our beautiful Somali language and survive the backstabbing political chaos that has so long tormented out native land.

Omar Ahmed
E-mail: [email protected]

The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "Hiiraan Online"

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