From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Mar 04 2009 - 05:40:19 EST
Somali President Agrees to Sharia Law, But Rebels Reject Truce
March 04, 2009 12:05 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed agreed to institute a lenient
form of sharia law in response to rebel demands. However, rebels vowed to
Sharia Law Implemented in Somalia as Part of Truce
At a news conference Saturday, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed
said that he is conceding to a key rebel demand:
imposition of sharia, or Islamic law, in Somalia.
CNN reports that Ahmed announced he would not implement an austere version
of sharia in the country. Sharia law generally demands the separation of
unrelated men and women, bans music, requires women to envelop themselves in
public and for men to wear beards.
"I met with religious leaders and elders and
DC8Q> accepted their demand for a ceasefire and reconciliation with the
opposition members, and I call on all opposition parties to halt the
unnecessary violence," Ahmed was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.
According to statements Ahmed made at his conference, representatives from
Islamic militant groups operating in the country came to the president to
say they were willing to agree to a two-year truce. The president also
requested that peacekeeping forces installed by the African Union begin to
However, hardliner group Hizb al-Islamiya (Islamic Party), who claimed
responsibility for a string of attacks in capital city Mogadishu last week,
said that they had never had any intention of participating in a ceasefire.
"The information regarding a ceasefire plan between our group and the
government is baseless. We will attack the enemy and their stooges anytime
we want," group spokesperson Muse Abdi Arale told AFP.
Somalia has been without a stable government
tml#00> since the overthrow of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.
Burdened by a dismal international image-thanks to a spike in piracy off its
shores over the past year-Somalia has struggled to retain some semblance of
But as members of
in-Fight-for-Future-of-Somalia.html> Al-Shabab, a militant Islamic group
designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization in early 2008, make their
way closer to the capital and complete control, tensions have reached a
Although they have lacked an operating government for several years,
national forces were able to keep Al-Shabab away from the capital with the
aid of Ethiopian troops.
The soldiers were deployed from Somalia's neighbor in 2006 after members of
the Union of Islamic Courts, an influential political party that took power
that year, began proposing the creation of a Greater Somali, which would
include parts of Ethiopia and Kenya.
Though the party was virtually erased from Somali politics, its armed wing
flourished, taking on the name of "The Youth," or Al-Shabab.
After three years of setbacks and losses, Ethiopia announced its withdrawal
late last year, leaving behind military outposts that were almost
immediately occupied by members of Al-Shabab.
The well-funded and well-organized group has since continued to extend its
reach across the Horn of Africa, consolidating power in regions long fought
over by an array of warlords.
Members of a 3,400-strong African Union force remain in the country to help
combat the spread of Al-Shabab, but they recently suffered a drop in support
after being accused of opening fire on civilians following a bomb attack on
one of their convoys.
Representatives of the AU force deny any involvement in the attack, which
resulted in the deaths of 31 people in the capital of Mogadishu.
Reference: What is sharia law?
Sharia, which can be translated as "the way" in Arabic, is
<http://www.cfr.org/publication/8034/#1> the Islamic legal system delineated
in the Islamic holy texts, including the Quran and the hadith.
Muslims consider the Quran the literal word of God, while the Hadith, the
ways of the prophet, provides the finer details of much of Islamic law, and
is used by Muslims to interpret the Quran. It consists of thousands of
descriptions of the Prophet Muhammad's daily life. As is common among
religious texts, both texts have been subjected to varying levels of
interpretation; this is reflected in how sharia is applied in Muslim
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