- When the ruling party Kulmiye came to power, the new team performed immediately rituals of purification in the palace, and presented the outgoing First Family as a filthy and un-Islamic people. That was the first sign of Islamic influence on Silanyo and his top officials. Ever since then, Islamist movements are on the rise – we often even see the president together with some Islamists on TV. This proves that there was a tacit alliance between Silanyo and Islamists long before the 2010 presidential elections. One thing is clear to us: the Islamists have more interactions with the current government than with Somaliland’s previous governments. Optimists thought that the president was using Islamists for political convenience. But their optimism evaporated when Islah, a banned Islamist group in Somaliland, convened a meeting in broad daylight in Hargeisa, the country’s nation’s capital.
The inclusion of notorious radicals into Somaliland’s political system by the Silanyo administration resulted in the holding of a Congress for Islah Militants in July. Concerned citizens called for a swift government’s action against the conference and its participants. Former minister of Religion and Endowments, Ayatulah, has warned against the sprawling of Wahabi schools in the country and its impact on Somaliland youth. But his appeal fell on deaf ears. Many others urged Silanyo to arrest the conference facilitators. Somalilanders know that Islah militants pose a real threat to our nation. I honestly believe that we cannot afford to be oblivious of this group’s danger to our political system.
This re-emergence of the cult is the result of a gradual process, but the religious group gained more visibility when Silanyo first assumed power in June 2010. Naturally, the new government did little to stop the rise of Islah. On the contrary, rather than curbing the movement from spiraling out of control, the government remained passive. Sheikh Mohamud Abdilahi declared Hisbullah’s election intentions only after 17 months into Silanyo’s five years term. Sheikh Mohamed urged his audience to impose Sharia Law upon the country. Many, including some elements of the current regime’s inner circle, admired his message. “Masha Allah, Masha Allah, Islamists are back…,” the crowd roared enthusiastically. The official spokesman, Ali Aar, explained why he was arrested and said that he did not “commit any crime”, and claimed that he ”only advocated the imposition of Sharia Law”.
Hisbullah’s public intervention is not an isolated case. Immediately after, another group founded a Wahabi-inspired party – Ururka Badbaado or the Salvation Party – and declared its intention to participate in the national elections with founder Sheikh Ali Gedi as its candidate.
The day of Islah conference, Hargeisa was bustling with Jihadists from all over Somalia. Sheikh Muhamoud Gadhyare and Sheikh Ismail Dheeg were among the radicals in town. The government did not disrupt the conference. Islah is allegedly linked with the Islamic internationalist movements, but its approach to Islamisation is different: Islamic Sharia can be imposed on Muslims thanks to mass Islamic education through Madrasa schooling. However, there are no fundamental differences between Islah and other radical groups.
The government’s leniency towards well-known Islamists is utterly shocking. Somaliland’s Foreign minister’s famous statement was embarrassing when he stated that his government would not tolerate “terrorist actions against Ethiopia”, but the fact remains that Somaliland has become a safe haven for Al Shabaab militants fleeing Mogadishu’s fighting.
In the days ahead, the momentum of the Islamists won’t die out as the ruling government develops stronger ties with the “harmless” Islamists. Without a doubt, Islamists’ systematic infiltration into the system, including the Intelligence Service, is alarming.
.By Abdirahman M. Dirye
Posted by Eidarous Hassan (Hargeisa/Somalilans)