Somalia president announces support for sharia

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said Feb. 28 that he would support the imposition of a “moderate” form of sharia law as part of a cease-fire agreement with the Hizb al-Islamiya and al-Shabaab rebels. Ahmed said, however, he would not agree to provisions that would prohibit girls from attending school, require women to wear headscarves, or ban music and television. Ahmed made the concession at the behest of Islamic religious groups that are mediating the conflict between the government and the rebels, but reports quoted rebels denying that a peace agreement had been made. Members of the country’s parliament, which would have to approve implementing sharia in order for it to take effect, have expressed support for such a proposal.

Somalia has endured a lengthy civil war and several rounds of failed peace talks since the collapse of its last civil government in 1991. The country’s transitional government is just now shifting its base from Djibouti to the Somali capital of Mogadishu. In December of last year, Human Rights Watch released a report (“‘So Much to Fear’: War Crimes and the Devastation of Somalia“) accusing both rebels and the government of having committed war crimes in the conflict. In January 2007, the transitional government began imposing martial law over areas under its control. (Jurist, March 1)

See our last post on Somalia.