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Mogadishu radio stations ban music after ultimatum from insurgents

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-04-14

Fourteen Mogadishu radio stations have stopped playing music following an ultimatum by hardline Hezb al-Islam insurgency, who want to "eliminate evil deeds" and increase the hold on the Somali capital.

AFP - Mogadishu-based radio stations stopped playing all music Tuesday following an ultimatum by hardline Islamist militia, in a sign of the insurgents' tightening grip on the Somali capital.
The city's 14 radio stations turned off the Western, Arabic and modern Somali and other African music that fills up their 18-hour broadcast time after an ultimatum by the Hezb al-Islam group expired.
Hezb al-Islam, which controls patches of the war-wracked Somali capital, had given the popular stations 10 days to shut down "evil" music broadcasts.
"Today we see an official crackdown on the independent media... The local radio stations stopped playing any kind of music or songs after the deadline given by the Islamists came to an end," said Mohamed Ibrahim, an official of the National Union of Somali Journalists.
"We denounce the move as a gross violation against the freedom of expression... because order after order means there will not be any independent media in this country," he told AFP.
The militants' threat affected all radio stations in both government and Islamist-controlled areas of Mogadishu and programme signature tunes were replaced with random animal or vehicle sounds, an AFP correspondent reported.
Hezb al-Islam and the Al Qaeda-linked Shebab militants control much of Mogadishu, the scene of near-daily clashes with the Western-backed Somali government forces.
"The ban was the most appropriate move towards eliminating evil deeds because listening to music and songs are illegal in Islam and anybody who goes against the orders will face consequences," Sheik Mohamed Ibrahim, a top Hezb al-Islam leader, told AFP.
"Praise be to Allah, the local media understood the importance of the decision and they implemented it. So far we don’t hear music from most radios in Mogadishu," he added
Radio executives said they had no choice but to comply.
"We abide by their rules by abstaining from broadcasting music and songs and instead we are using traditional poems from today on," said Mohamed Haji Bare, director general of Danan Radio.
"No one dares disobey the orders otherwise you put your life in danger," said Osman Gure, the director of Radio Shabelle, a popular Mogadishu station.
"This morning I broadcast my programme without the music sound bites. Everything is falling apart in this country and if we ignore what they (Islamists) say, we ignore our safety," said Abdiaziz Mohamed Dirie, an editor of Mogadishu's Simba radio.
In recent years, the insurgents have imposed a series of restrictions such as outlawing watching films and football, ordering men to grow beards and destroying the graves of moderate Islamic clerics.
Offenders of their brand of strict sharia, or Islamic law, are often flogged in public, have their limbs amputated or face a firing squad.
Somalia, a Horn of Africa nation blighted by relentless civil war since 1991, is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.
Nine journalists were killed there last year by armed militias, who also often kidnap foreign reporters for ransom.

Date created : 2010-04-14