Somali Insurgents Ban School Bells

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The Shabab, Somalia’s most powerful Islamist insurgent group, outlawed school bells in a southern town on Thursday after deciding that they conflicted with Islam, residents said.

The impositions came after school principals in Jowhar, about 55 miles north of the capital, had been summoned to a meeting and informed that the bells could no longer be used because they were reminiscent of churches, according to one principal.

“There was no bell ring in our school today,” said Hamdi, a female student at the Kulmis Primary and Secondary school, withholding her full name out of fear for her safety. “Some teachers were hitting the doors as the period finishes. It is really confusing.”

The Shabab also outlawed the observance of internationally-recognized days like World AIDS Day, saying that the only Islamic festivals could be recognized.

Insurgent groups in Somalia have increasingly alienated the population by imposing a harsh interpretation of Islam, stoning people to death and amputating the hands and feet of thieves. They have also put forward strict edicts controlling the more mundane aspects of daily life, banning things like bras and soccer games in their territory.

This week, more than a dozen radio stations in Mogadishu stopped playing any form of music — even to introduce daily programs like news broadcasts — after another insurgent group, Hizbul Islam, warned radio stations to cease playing songs or face “serious consequences.”

The ultimatum left broadcasters scrambling to find creative ways around the ban, leading them to use recordings of horses galloping, roosters crowing, engines roaring or guns being fired — a common sound in the capital — to signal the start of various broadcasts.


spotted by RS

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