In Somalia it is now unlikely that you’ll hear pop music playing on the radio, thanks to Hizbul-Islam (a militant Islamist group) who ordered more than a dozen stations to stop playing music, beginning April 13th. The BBC reports:
Most radio stations in Somalia have stopped playing music, on the orders of Islamist Hizbul-Islam insurgents who say that songs are un-Islamic.
The stations said they had to comply with the ban as if they did not, they would be putting their lives at risk.
The poor radio presenters aren’t even allowed to play jingles! Some are using gunfire, car horns and animal cries to act as a bridge between programs.
"We are using other sounds such as gunfire, the noise of the vehicles and birds to link up our programmes and news," said Abdulahi Yasin Jama, Tusmo radio’s head of the programmes.
As if this isn’t bad enough, yesterday it was reported that the Somali government was threatening to close radio stations that were complying with the orders from the Islamist insurgents. The staff at these radio stations are now confused, not knowing who to obey – the government, or the Islamist insurgents.
Radio workers said they felt trapped between violent insurgents who are known to stone people to death and an ineffectual government that controls only a few blocks of the capital city and cannot protect them.
Somalia is basically run by a wide assortment of militant fundamentalist Islamic factions that control various areas of the country (the government doesn’t really have much control). Many of them have made life difficult for Somalis in different ways. Some militant groups have recently banned bras and musical ringtones. Another group last week banned school bells in one southern town, saying they sound too much like Christian church bells.
But hey, cheer up – Somalia does have its share of freethinkers. Be sure to check out the blog Somali Atheism. Then of course, there is the ever awesome Ayaan Hirsi Ali (she currently resides in the United States). This lady was born to be interesting, I swear:
I will soon begin a series on Somalia – in which I will try to present an overview of the history of that country, and chronicle the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.