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A RECONCILIATION CONFERENCE: A CULTURE OF FORGIVENESS & SAYING NO TO EXTREMISM

by Ahmed Mohamed Warsame
Monday, July 23, 2007

 

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Today Somalis have come together to a national reconciliation conference to reconcile among themselves and overcome the legacy of anarchy and disorder of the past 17 years.

 

A Reconciliation Conference is a necessary exercise to enable Somalis to come to terms with their differences on a nationally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation that can bring a real alternative to this madness of religious hypocrisy and extremism of intolerance towards all views other than one's own and disregard for the life, liberty, and human rights of others.

 

Extremism is not an option for Somalis today but some people choose it as they always act in what they perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be in their self-interest. It became a tactic for those who interpret Islamic teachings very narrow-mindedly, and the result is that we are unforgiving towards each other.

 

Somalis have come together from all corners of the world to a reconciliation conference of forgiveness and hopes of replacing violence with dialogue and saying no to those advocating a double standard of religious extremism, ordering the young people to commit genocide and committing infanticide himself on a mass scale under the mask of jihad. I don't believe you will find Jihad by mutilating the feet and legs of innocent school children and mothers and other pedestrians on Mogadishu streets.

 

To my knowledge on the topic of jihad, this is an obnoxious propaganda of misrepresenting the essence of "jihad”, which means basically to struggle, but this, can be personal or spiritual, or a peaceful political struggle.

Mogadishu residents are sick and tired of so many years of anarchy and today are fed up of planting and throwing bombs, ambush attacks, damaging of their properties and indiscriminate killing of their innocent civilian men, women and children in the streets.

Enough is enough! Somalis should work together in reconciliation to stop this sort of violence and come up with an alternative to provide their children and families with shelter, food, education, health and protection.

 

We remember when the union of Islamic Courts (UIC) came into Mogadishu we saw plenty of people crawl out from under their hidings and convert to UIC sympathisers, drawn by the smell of hatred towards the warlords of Mogadishu. But destabilizing their peace and stability in Mogadishu today by UIC insurgents would not make them and other Somalis to believe UIC insurgents much different from the warlords they drove from the capital.

 

Simplistic Blame

The spoilers who threaten the reconciliation process today wage an ongoing slander campaign against the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, claiming that it is a government that brought Ethiopian peacekeeping forces to the country. We were often reminded of some escape goat tactics such as Ethiopian Peacekeeping forces in the country or image marring some government officials involved in the restoration of peace and stability in the capital. Before we buy the malarkey that is being produced by people with their own agendas or prejudices or who are just plain ignorance, let us follow the reality that after all, Ethiopia did not come to dominate Somalia.

There is nothing wrong with asking assistance to your neighbouring country to restore stability, law and order and put an end to an anarchies situation prevalent in Somalia since 1991. It happened in many countries in the world like Uganda, Liberia, Sera Leone, Lebanon etc.

 

These African peace keeping forces, with no exception to the Ethiopian Peacekeepers, were those requested by President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan of Arta Transitional Government in the last days of his tenure, where he based his request in the fight of terrorists and extremists in Mogadishu if foreign Peacekeeping forces were not supporting his government. We haven’t heard any criticism on Abdiqasim’s demand for Peacekeeping forces from the leaders of radical Islamic Courts of Mogadishu on those days. (La jiifiyaana Banaan is a Somali proverb used on opportunistic occasions when it is on someone’s favour!).

 

No to Bloody escalation and extremism

Today in Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia, we should not expose our children, in their childhood development stage, to such a shocking scene of dead human bodies. We brought up children to witness horrific scenes without taking into consideration the negative impact that it could possibly have on them. When children of that stage of development are exposed to such shocking sights, they usually suffer nightmares, experience a loss of appetite, lose concentration and, in this case, perhaps even develop a chronic feeling of hostility towards other people.

These scenarios would have been totally different if we had chosen to teach our children a lesson in high morals and forgiveness to other people and hatred towards violence. From this incident, it does seem that we have failed to properly spread the concept of forgiveness and peace-loving in our society.

 

This entire orgy of blood-letting is not part of Islam. It was never practiced in the time of the Holy Prophet (SAW) or the rightly guided caliphs and this practice is a total abomination in Islam.

All peace-loving Somalis everywhere deplore this practice of such horrific and bloody scenes enacted on the streets and populated business areas of Mogadishu and other parts of the country, this creates besides loss of human life and properties other phenomena of deep emotional and psychological trauma, especially among young people.

In view of the harsh times Somalis and particularly Mogadishu residents are facing, it behoves upon those who commit them to revisit this deviant contraption and put an end to these barbaric practices and atrocities which do not belong to the true Somali culture.

Final Thoughts

Rather than blindly rejecting anything of peaceful proposal, let us live up with the reality that is marked on our store today. Our children, families and people are dying in hunger and disease in thousands; it is time we should start to develop a culture of our own that is based on reconciling our differences, demonstrating an inclusive approach to governance, helping deliver security, and advancing political reconciliation

 

An objective look will show us that unity of Somalis is a primary and important goal that we must strive for, and be reminded reconciliation and forgiveness were the traits of our Prophet (peace be upon him) and there is a serious warning from Allah (Subhaanuhu-wa-ta’alaa) for those who create division among their people.

“As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least” (6:159)

A final suggestion is that DON’T BE FOOLED BY PROPAGANDA waged by the spoilers who threaten Somalia's peace process and some of the biased Somali Media those who promote conflict and alienate reconciliation among our people.

“Allah knows him who means mischief (MUFSID) from him who means good (MUSLIH)” (2:220).

 

It should come as no surprise that some of us reject every hope of stability for the country and see their future in anarchy because of their personal interests or some other self prejudices such as tribalism or annexing some other peoples’ land or properties. Whether we admit it or not, the fundamental truth remains that some of us emphasize other concern much more than concern for nationhood. That is the case.

 

The Ex-Parliamentarian group in Asmara was a tiny percentage of members of Federal Parliament and wouldn't be the force except for the fact that the Ex-speaker has gone out of his way to make all of but Sh. Aweys’ extremism become true that is: it's OK to do “bad” things in the service of a "good" cause! Or on the other hand it is justified in their “good” cause to kill indiscriminately innocent school children, women cleaning Mogadishu streets, worshipers in their prayers in mosques, Government officials in their duties of national services……what “good” cause this will serve!

 

If Asmara Group really desired to a sustainable peace and stability in Somalia let them renounce violence, participate in the reconciliation process and be wary of their quotations they use in creating division among their people for they are often deliberately fabricated propaganda.

In South Africa, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to help deal with the crimes that took place under the apartheid era. They came up with initiatives that were carried out across South Africa to promote an ethos of forgiveness and peace. As Somalis we need to ask: What are we doing in this direction?

May Allah (Subhaanuhu-wa-ta’alaa), give guidance to all of us, endow Mercy and Bless the whole of Somalia with Prevailing Peace - Ameen.


Ahmed Mohamed Warsame: is a resident in Melbourne, Australia, a professional accountant, teacher, interpreter and translator. He is currently the treasurer of Board of Directors for Muslim Community Cooperative of Australia Ltd (MCCA LTD) (an Islamic financial Institution that offers Shariah compliant Home Financing and business investments). Ahmed had worked in the Ex- Ministry of Finance & Treasury and Ex- Ministry of Education of Somalia in the years of 1975 to 1990).

Contact: [email protected]



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