Two die as hardline Islamists ban World Cup
Jun 11 12:25 PM US/Eastern
Hardline Islamic courts shut cinema halls and barred residents from watching the World Cup, prompting scores of civilians to protest the ban in which two people were killed, court officials and residents have said.
The gunmen loyal to the Joint Islamic Courts (JIC), cut electricity, cleared cinema halls and warned residents against watching the football tournament in areas they control, forcing a violent protest late on Saturday in which two people were killed, residents said Sunday.
The JIC deputy chairman AbdulKadir Ali Omar said the Islamic tribunals would crackdown on halls that defy the order to show western films and video, including the World Cup.
"This is war against all people who show films that promote pornography, drug dealing and all forms of evil," Omar told AFP.
"We shall not even allow the showing of the World Cup because they corrupt the morals of our children whom we endeavour to teach the Islamic way of life," he added.
Islamic courts officials said they were against some elements of World Cup, notably the advertisements for alcohol.
On Sunday, residents said Islamic gunmen were roaming in Sukahola and Huriwa neighbourhoods in northern Mogadishu to ensure that the ban was enforced.
A strict interpretation of Islamic taechings often bans Western films and television as immoral.
"The Islamic courts have ordered the closure of three cinema halls," said Sukahola resident Abdulaziz Hanad told AFP. "They want to make sure that nobody in Mogadishu watches the World Cup."
"Since the Islamic courts took control of Mogadishu, we knew they would not allow us to watch football," said a dejected Dahir Abubakar Hassan, a resident of northern Mogadishu.
Last year, the courts started to forcefully close cinema halls, arguing that they were showing steamy Bollywood and Hollywood films, which have been translated into the Somali language, to children, which is an apparent violation of the Islamic teachings.
Last Monday, the Islamists defeated the warlords and seized control of most of Mogadishu, sparking fears of a Taliban-like takeover, with the forcible imposition of Sharia law , but the court's leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said he would not impose the laws unless civilians called for them.
Somalia pulled out of international sporting events after the country plunged into anarchy following the violent ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
But residents in other pockets of Mogadishu still under control of the warlords gathered in makeshift cinema halls and watched the tournament that was being relayed from Germany through satellite dishes.
In the remaining warlords' stronghold of Jowhar, about 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of Mogadishu, residents gathered in public cinema halls to watch the 32-nation tournament, an AFP correspondent said.
"If only they can hold the peace for one month and allow us to watch football," Hassan Omar, a teenager in Jowhar told AFP.
In the seat of the impotent and fractured Somali government in Baidoa, about 250 kilometres (155) miles northwest of the capital, residents were not allowed to watch the 10.00 pm (1900 GMT) World Cup match because of a curfew.
Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir said anybody who violates the curfew -- which runs from 9:00 PM (1800 GMT) to 5:00 am (0200 GMT), shall be sentenced to one to three months in jail with a fine of between 1,500,000 Somali shillings (1,080 dollars) and 3,000,000 shillings (2,160 dollars).