[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): Somali militants order schools to teach Arabic

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Sep 07 2011 - 12:47:21 EDT

Somali militants order schools to teach Arabic

Wed Sep 7, 2011 1:40pm GMT

* Rebels say current teachings against Islamic Sharia

* Move shows rebels intent on enforcing harsh laws

MOGADISHU, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Somalia's al Shabaab rebels have banned
English from schools in the southern port city of Kismayu they control and
demanded teachers switch the curriculum to include Arabic and Islamic

The latest edict shows the disconnect between the al Qaeda-allied rebels
intent on stamping harsh laws on areas they control, and Somali leaders who
have agreed to hold an election next year even though the internationally
backed government barely controls any territory beyond the capital.

The new school ruling also comes just days after the rebels ordered
businesses on the outskirts of Mogadishu to rip down posters in English and
Somali and replace them with Arabic ones.

Teachers in Kismayu said al Shabaab ordered the syllabus be changed from the
beginning of this month after a week of meetings between the two parties.

"We used to teach the students Kenyan, Sudanese or Malaysian curricula which
are written in English so that students can understand the material when
they reach university," Mahmud Ali, headmaster of Mohamed Jamac secondary
and primary school in Kismayu, told Reuters by phone.

"But now we can't teach because we have to change everything, including our
teachers who are mostly Kenyan and don't speak Arabic. We also used to teach
students Somali literature, we don't know what to do now," he said.

The southern port city of Kismayu has about six secondary schools that teach
in English, while most of the primary schools already teach in Arabic.

Al Shabaab have in the past sought to recruit school children to join a holy
war against Somalia's government and its allies. They have already banned
English and science studies in other parts of southern Somalia.


In a statement posted on al Shabaab's website, the militants said they took
this step because they felt students were learning values in Christian and
Hindu curriculums that they said were against Islamic sharia principles.

The hardline group, which bans music, movies and soccer, adheres to its own
harsh interpretation of sharia law. They have also beheaded people and
amputated limbs as punishment.

"The reason we want to impose this is to eradicate every curriculum against
the Islamic sharia and we want to promote Islamic studies. We will take
steps to control the educational system of our children," the group said in
a statement.

"Parents have to make sure they teach their children the principles of
Islamic jihad," said the group, which wants to impose its version of sharia
law on all of Somalia.

Somali politicians adopted a roadmap on Tuesday designed to lead to
elections within a year and end a string of fragile transition governments
that have successively failed to bring peace.

The meeting came about three weeks after al Shabaab withdrew from most of
their rebel bases in Mogadishu, a move they said was tactical. Their leader
has vowed the fighters will return.

The plan also lays out timetables for improving security in Mogadishu and
other parts of southern Somalia, but it is not entirely clear how they would
achieve that with an already overstretched African Union peacekeeping force,
and al Shabaab intent on launching attacks against government and African

Somalia has been in turmoil since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad
Barre in 1991. Fighting has killed more than 21,000 people since al Shabaab
launched its insurgency in 2007. (Additional reporting by Sahra Abdi in
Nairobi; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by David Clarke)

C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved


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