Sunday, 1 April 2012

Somalia: Censoring Islamist, Sanitazing Warlords

By Aden Sh. Hassan
March 31 2012


In the contemporary global politics, where mendacity reigns supreme, the truth is easily reduced into a mere variable of falsehood. Misdiagnosis becomes the rule rather than the exception, bogeymen are invented left, right and center, and franchised meta-narratives are employed with reckless abandon to simplify complex socio-political phenomena.

Political Islam is an all-season fall guy; a punching bag for all and sundry. It is the bane of Asia and the blight of Africa; the plague of the past and pestilence of the future. The hydra-headed monster, whose tentacles slither east and west with reptilian callousness. The menace that must be confronted with occidental asperity and oriental iciness.

With the abundance of Salafist torpedoes across the Islamic world, tactless and bungling, political Islam is bound to raise a storm of negativity. A cocktail of anarchist-Takfiri entities like Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab and the plethora of Lashkars across the Indian subcontinent ensure wicked tags like ‘Islamo-fascism’ are over-consumed without anyone suffering bloat. To the hordes of Islam bashers, including many so-called liberal Muslims, there really is not much difference between Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Or the Somali Islaah and Al Shabaab. They are all political Islamists; toxic and singularly undesirable.

And that is where the danger lies. We are deliberately misdiagnosing our problem.

In terminally-ill Somalia, political Islam seems to have been burdened not only with its own hefty cross, but also the crosses of all the warlords, murderous tribal chieftains, rogue militias and meddling outsiders who instigated the Somali implosion and abetted its intractability. The lamentable advent of Al Shabaab and their predisposition to evoke public disgust seems to be inculcating an adverse distaste for political Islam. Suddenly, Somalis seem to be inching, rather subconsciously, towards the conviction that these ‘wadaaddo’ should remain in their dugsis and mosques, and should not dabble in the sophisticated, but decidedly secular, science (or art) of politics.

Suddenly, as a result of Al Shabaab’s nefariousness, their Islamist predecessors in the Somali politics, like the Islamic Courts Union and Al Ittihad of the early 1990s, are roundly condemned as trailblazers of Islamized madness.  Most of these criticisms are not about what wrongs those Islamic movements committed – and there is a lengthy catalog. Instead, there is an unnerving notion that Islam should never have been politicized; that those groups should never have ventured into politics in the first place; that it was primarily inappropriate for them to have sought the instruments of power and its facilities.

In the span of just a few years, Somalia’s central problem seems to have been crystallized into Islamism. All the internecine clan chaos has been forgotten. The tribal deities, and the incendiary mentality that nurtured them, are being sugar-coated right before our eyes. We have somehow forgotten about the warlords, the vampires who have been sucking Somali blood for all those years.  The blame-game has now reached a fever pitch crescendo, and the Islamists represent evil - its alpha and omega. All that went wrong in Somalia is recklessly being attributed to Islamic radicalism.Continue

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