Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Justice" in Somalia

It was the most excitement the southern Somalian city of Kismayo had seen in quite some time: a vehicle with loud speakers roamed the streets, inviting the public to the enforcement of the Islamic law the dictates punishment for theft -- the cutting off the the right hand.

Hundreds gathered in Freedom Park as a young man named Mohamed Omar Ismail, found guilty of stealing goods from another man's house, was brought before the crowd as a statement was read. The passage from the Koran was read which decrees the relevant punishment. His hand was then immediately severed and held up before the crowd by the index finger, as if to prove that 'we mean business.'

Ismail, recovering from his wound in a local hospital, says he did not commit the burglary and is still in shock from what has happened to him.

The current struggle for control in Somalia is not secular forces versus Islamic forces, but hardline Islamists versus more moderate Islamists. Both say that sharia law, or Islamic law, will sooner or later be firmly in place in that war-torn country.

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