Men told grow beards in latest edict from Somali Islamists


SOMALIA’S ISLAMIST movement Hezb al-Islam has ordered men in Mogadishu to grow beards and trim their moustaches, an official said yesterday, further imposing the strict Sharia form of Islamic law on citizens.

The group’s latest edict follows a similar order issued late last year by the al-Qaeda-inspired al-Shebab group, which, along with Hezb al-Islam, controls most of Somalia.

“Men are ordered to grow their beards and trim their moustaches and anyone found violating this law will face the consequences,” Hezb al-Islam official Moallim Hashi Mohamed Farah said.

“To grow one’s beard is a moral teaching left by our prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, so it is a duty to keep this religious practice alive and punish men who shave their beards and grow their moustaches,” he said.

Somalia’s transitional government condemned the order.

“This is just the latest in a long line of un-Somali and un-Islamic activities by the extremists,” Mohamed Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Somali government said.

“Unfortunately, the people who live in the areas controlled by them will have no choice but to comply because of pressure and killings by them,” he said.

Somalis have already been banned from watching the World Cup and listening to music by Islamist groups.

Hezb al-Islam banned radio stations in Mogadishu from playing music and songs in April. Most of the radio stations complied with the order.

Less than two weeks ago, gunmen in Mogadishu shot dead two people and detained 10 others when raiding a house where people were watching a World Cup match.

The edict from the Islamist movement comes as Somalia tops Foreign Policymagazine’s failed states' index for the third year running.

According to the latest edition of the Washington-based publication: “Somalia saw yet another year plagued by lawlessness and chaos, with pirates plying the coast while radical Islamist militias tightened their grip on the streets of Mogadishu.”

Somalia has been without a government since 1991, when the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown after 22 years in power.

According to Foreign Policy, the world’s top 10 most vulnerable nations are: Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Central African Republic, Guinea and Pakistan.

Measured against 12 metrics of state decay – from refugee flows to economic implosion – the top 10 slots have rotated between just 15 countries since the index was first compiled six years ago.