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ISLAMISTS DESTROYING SHRINES IN SOMALIA

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Al-Shabab, the main Islamic militia fighting transitional government and Ethiopian forces in Somalia, is desecrating religious shrines in the port town of Kismaio, in Southern Somalia, Al-Jazeera T.V Network reported on Saturday 12/20/2008.

al-Shabab took control of Somalia’s third-largest city about four months ago and quickly announced it would not tolerate anything it deemed un-Islamic (see – Kismayo 08.25.08 ).

Kismayo’s Roman Catholic Church was torn down just days after they seized power through bloody fighting. The 60-year-old church had not been used for nearly 20 years and not a single Christian lives in the city – but that was not a good enough reason for the militias to spare the building.  al-Shabab are planning to replace it with a mosque.

The militants then turned their hammers on graves, some of which contained the remains of followers of Sufi, a mystical form of Islam.

The sites have been revered for decades and are regularly visited by people paying homage to the dead, a practice al-Shabab has condemned as being akin to idolatry. “We are a chosen lot by Allah to try and correct the mystics of the people and guide them,” Hassan Yaqub, a spokesman for the Kismayo administration, told Al Jazeera. “We have a responsibility to the people to guard the people against all evil deeds.”

In Marka, another coastal town in the south of the country, Al Jazeera witnessed the public implementation of Shariaa, or Islamic law. Three men accused of smoking hashish were given a public flogging before the al-Shabab fighters set fire to the drugs that were purportedly found when the men were arrested.

Such practices have become more frequent as al-Shabab has increased its influence across southern and central Somalia, taking back many of the areas which were formerly controlled by the Islamic Courts Union until late 2006.

On 10/27/2008, a 13-year-old girl was reportedly stoned to death in Kismayo after she was found guilty of adultery (see – Rape-victim ).

Last month, 32 people were whipped for taking part in a traditional dance in the town of Balad, about 30km north of the capital Mogadishu. The crowds which were made to witness the flogging in Marka appeared to be overwhelmingly supportive of the new measures being taken by the new Islamist authorities.

 

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