Thursday, June 22, 2006
TRADITIONAL SUFIS MARCH AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISTS IN SOMALIA
Traditional Sufis in Somalia aren't interested in anything resembling a Taliban style government. Organized by Ahlu Suna Wal-Jamma'a they have taken to the streets to emphasize that.
Somali Islam has historically been a Sufi-mystical variant, with scant regard for politicization or militancy. Somali society is renowned for its openness and oral culture.
Ahlu Sunna wal Jama'a (ASWJ) is a modern Islamist group created in 1991 as an offshoot from Majma'(whose main goal is the establishment of a Sharia-based government) to counter the influence of the most radical Islamist trends. The ASWJ movement brings together politically motivated sheikhs whose primary goal is to unify the Sufi community under one unified leadership capable of consolidating the powers of the three primary Sufi Tariqas—the Qadiriyya, Salihiyya and Ahmadiyya—into one front whose sole mission is the rejuvenation of the "traditionalist" interpretation of Islam and the de-legitimization of the beliefs and political views of al-Ittihad and other radical Islamic movements.
The following news comes from Aljazeera.
Somalis march against Islamists
Hundreds of Somalis have marched in Mogadishu denouncing their new Islamist rulers.
Thursday's march was the latest protest since the Islamic courts militia ousted US-backed warlords earlier this month.
About 700 protesters, including children from Koranic schools, marched through the capital's streets in the central Sinai district in a demonstration organised by the traditional Sufist group, Ahlu Suna Wal-Jamma'a.
"We are Muslims and we do not want these fundamentalists who seized Mogadishu," said demonstrator Muumina Ali during the three-hour march and rally.
"Sheikh Sharif's group are fundamentalists," shouted another protester, referring to Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, chairman of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which controls Mogadishu and other towns across a swathe of southern Somalia.
The protest comes as Somalia's interim government and the Islamist movement are holding direct high-level talks in Sudan, mediated by the Arab League and the Sudanese president.
'Taliban' claims denied
While the ICU has brought relative peace and stability to Mogadishu for the first time in years, residents say some Islamist militia are imposing hardline practices, such as forcibly cutting hair and making women cover their heads and faces.
Ahmed, the moderate face of the ICU which also includes more radical Muslim leaders, has denied accusations his organisation wants to establish a Taliban-style rule in Somalia.
The Islamist takeover of Mogadishu has further complicated the attempts to restore central rule to Somalia since the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
A weak interim government, formed in Kenya in 2004, is currently based in the provincial town of Baidoa. However, it retains little control over the rest of the country, including the capital.
Abdullahi Yusuf, Somalia's interim president, said this week the Islamist militia could not have succeeded without support from Muslim fundamentalists across the world.
But the ICU says the government was formed without the consent or consultation of the Somali people and is conspiring with Ethiopia to launch an offensive against them.
Thursday's march followed other anti-Islamist protests, including one organised by a defeated warlord and another by people protesting the breaking up of World Cup viewing in some cinemas.
The ICU said it was preparing a massive demonstration for Friday in Mogadishu to show the superior popular support it has and the people's opposition to a government plan to invite foreign peacekeepers into the Horn of Africa nation.