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Why does Somaliland shift from democracy to theocracy?

By Abdirahman M. Dirye

In the Muslim World, there’s a thin line between democracy and theocracy. The latter is stronger in the Islamic context as religious misquotation reinforces the narrative. Since the sitting president assumed office, the clergy call the shots from nominating minister to presidential candidates. They predetermine the two forerunners of which both are blessed by the Central Islamists Leadership in advance. The octogenarian president of Somaliland recently declared the formation of “Muslim” Council making historic mistake as though the country is bi-religious  community unlike the fact that Somaliland are all Muslims by number plate or trademark.

Despite the grave mistake to form a parallel institution to the Ministry of Religion and Endowment, the president monopolized the faith to controversial Wahhabi Sect, in doing so; he empowered the militants to an extent leaving no room for legitimate religious debate on contemporary issues. The Council saying  are similar to Allah orders. Hands down. If one disagrees with the “divine” Council, he or she commits blasphemy and deserve not only social stigma but beheading in public platform! My Imam, not a member of the council because he is considered more lax, therefore; can’t be listened to, because he’s operating beyond Islamic border of the newly legalized cult. The moderate voices of Somaliland were marginalized by presidential decree totally excluding them from the religious sphere.

Postwar Somalia, Hadiths Trafficked To Somaliland 

Hadiths, are set of narrations of the practices of the prophet Mohamed (PUHM) but many are Da’aif or  baseless, Somalilanders are inept to distinguish genuine one from the fake. They assume everything in Arabic is Islamic. From there, the societal confusion arises. Somaliland Imams are self-declared ones no institution proved them whether they have the basic knowledge of what they preach or just simply learnt small Arabic then claim to be Sheikhs.  Anyone can issue Fatwa, religious verdict, on basis of nothingness calling for the murder of someone whom they fell out.  13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic: “The truth was a mirror in the hands of God.  It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.” This exactly what’s happening in Somalia/Somaliland for the past 23 years when Siyad Barre the last legitimate ruler ousted.  Ever since Hadiths keep coming to Somaliland telling contradicting commands. One Hadith says Islam spread by the Sword “your Heaven under your machete”  another  says Islam is God-driven faith so need no twisted mind to blow up civilian targets. “don’t perish yourself in your own hands”, verse.

In the nightly prayers, Tahajud, what’s known as “Jihadist” verses are recited to make worshippers venomous against innocents filling hearts of bloodlust. Yusuf Qardawi once quoted said “ You Somalis put your Jihad in agriculture to remain alive”. The verses calling for coexistence are not encouraged. They either Mansukh technically invalid or utter in words only not allowed for practice. That what the latest interpretions arrived to Somalia said. They keep changing to compete who’s more brutal.

The Ultimate Force 

Presidential candidates have to attend in Wahhabi tacitly-approved Mosques, because not all mosques are equal, in order to win the votes of evangelical fanatics of Wahhabi followers who disdain Mosques run by old generation mullahs, the Timo Wayn or Ahlu Sunni Wal jama. Those fanatics are not just religious leaders but also tycoons, highly public opinion influencers whose fortune in the billions. They’re in fact political force to reckon. They’re AIPAC in Somaliland. Surely, president Silanyo couldn’t win in elections without their financial support and outpouring votes in favor of him. But analysts thought the alliance between Kulmiye the ruling party and Islamists Hawalas was a marriage of convenience Many said that the leader once known “foxy” and ever politically shifting statesman who turned on his closest allies people like Dr. Gaboose or Engineer or even Sheikh Samale would take them to courts to answer Hargeisa Deadly bombing that cost the lives of 20 people and wounded 30 noncombatants rather than . remaining strange bedfellows.

However, he embraced them.

Silanyo’s Leading Double Life 

The president Silanyo, a hipster when young back in England during master studies, used to visit and enjoy the intimacy of the nightlife and the endless pleasure of Manchester, still does whenever he goes to UK but  confesses for his sins in the presence of great influential Imams. The last Ramadan he invited Wahhabis to the palace to show his support and of how he admired their Jihad against infidels’ negative influence the Democracy perhaps. They asked Allah for forgiveness on his behalf for they’re righteous and faultless. He put his hand into public purse to give extra finance to elevate the “word” of messengers

Time Wayn tries to enter the palace, “heretics purgatory damned! Get lost” Silanyo’s personal Imam booed.

The “blessed” Council sincerely advised him to return to his faith roots “forget about democracy, it’s satanic work, and western product, you have one leg in the grave, they stated. The more distant from Democracy, the more we avert Bidoa-style famine that perished many people. See Gulf monarchies are blessed for the absence of democracy.  Money pours there!

Somaliland clergy dictating what to do and what not to do suggested to narrow the democracy to mere  voting process of couple male candidates prescreened by the “puritan” Imams and whose faith in Islam were tested and proved how “good” Muslims they were before they assume office. The president admired how cleverly they’re, the midway course is the only way to live with terror and get the best of both worlds. He doesn’t want to offend any group. he said he admired when Islamists (or Islamiyuun , word with positive connotation,) ply the poor with fried chicken and juices but find offensive this good charity doers are accused of suicide “ it’s Jews” said one listener, “ yes I know buddy, yes they’re behind” . The conversation terminated.

Kelly and unprovoked Imams  

August 7, the last Friday’s sermons in Somaliland dominated by Judy Kelly a gay rights activist from the UK whose presence in the Hargeisa Annual Book Fair, event intend to move vulnerable youth from radicalizing infrastructure to inspiring talks from writers ,and advocates, wasn’t felt because she did what every other foreign invitee did: lectured to audience on cultural writing. Her passion and inclination, however, offended radical Imams. “The book fair shouldn’t invite non-Muslim authors”, one Imam preaching 7-century sermon in Qandahar outlook mosque uttered. “If we import such ilk, the suicide bombing will resume in Somaliland because co-president minister broke the truce” another stated despite no clear correlation between the two. People shocked.

The motivational lecturers are begged to risk to Somaliland, a country globetrotters confuse it with Somalia.

The nearby mosques ignored her advocacy or sexual orientation for the greater good instead appreciated her contribution to literary and cultural revival event. But distant one in the same city deplored the organizers for lack of “faith, and good manners for inviting such type of woman. The organizers went semi-hiding.

“Sheikhs” invite their peer jihadists without deploring from intellectuals and other Islamic bodies. But they believe they’re in the upper hand and the rest of the society less assertive and not loud enough.

Many Muslim scholars find hard to decipher how Islamists invent faith-meter, a device to measure faith of someone then label anyone disagree with them as low or zero faithful, and the suicide bombers of powerfully charged faithful who murdered people to prevent “Fitna” from happening. The word is vague and undefined but carries much weight than it seems. In terms of Wahhabi Muftis and their ilk, you can desecrate mosques and murder infant or elderly out of prevention of “Fitna” in Haramayn Mosque in Mecca. I used to weep when I hear the word but not anymore because ever since I don’t understand it despite the fact I speak Arabic better than any other Imams I know. It reminds me of when God in the Christianity supposed in the form of Latin-speaking Bishop to urge his English-speaking congregation to follow his God’s rules but the congregation pretend to understand the sermon and showed false awe.

The presidential decree to monopolize the religious narrative to radical imams made Somaliland less safe, the resurgence of militants in subtle way in Somaliland led UN to lower security level to that of Mogadishu. EU staff were also evacuated. In televised debate among three presidential candidates of Irro and Bihi. “UN expats told not to step away from the gate of the compound,” said Faisal Ali Warble of UCID party possessor whose son, a citizen of Finland, left for Syria to wage Jihad against Muslims and noncombatants alike argued.

Postwar Somalia generation of Imams consider their old religious teachers a kinky “Heretics”. They fundamentally do disagree everything with their instructor Sheikhs. When the religion did reveal to Mohamed (PPUH) in 1991 or earlier? Did Islam arrive to Somalia in 1991 when Jihadists returned from Afghanistan or Pakistan or Arabia? The commons confuse why Imams picker over immaterial.

The old mullahs say Islam is the business of Allah whether to spread, no need to forcibly hand down our way of understanding upon others’ throats as panacea while Wahhabi Muftis insist on Islam always need the assistance of believing men and women to keep alive and invade other “filthy” culture to prevent Fitna. Both Imam read the same scripture text but understand differently nevertheless some are motivated by the cash inflows by Saudis once Jihads break out.

The old mullahs are not liked not because their Hadiths are false but they have no much wealth to effect-change therefore have no say in political affairs in Somaliland. They’ve no links with petrodollar countries as Wahhabi does.

President Silanyo invited Wahhabi followers to the palace to bless his government when Ahlu Sunna turned away.

Jihadists waging The True Jihad by other means

Since president Silanyo elected, dozens of high-ranking military officers were “eaten” as the Jihadist like to call. All the murdered have common currency they were trained in foreign country to serve for their nation with integrity and honesty. Yesterday, a soldiers politically motivated ate senior military leaders. This the third time a military official either died of mysterious situation or allegedly poisoned or killed in broad day light! Islamists to make bloodless coup in Somaliland once every dissident military officer gone.

The average local newspapers confused of over the disappearances. When Islamists jumped the wagon of President Party Kulmiye, they knew it would very much easy to reshape the country’s military leadership the last institution intact. Infiltration into core system is less costly than open war.  The head of judiciary called mullahs to outpour to the public sector. The remaining officials are readjusting to the realities or face death.

The highest military official in Somaliland during an assessment to award military ranks were told to resign or ask a lower grade that the assessment gave. Soon, he died of mystery, he was awarded Marshal  while dead. No medical examination of why he died was conducted.

To trivialize the military deaths, Islamists go to TV and say it was clannish retaliation. X tribe killed them. But Somaliland struggles with aftershocks and the aftermath of the soft killing beneath the military barracks.

Imams called the Qisas or the death penalty to be carried out to make the theocracy more “blessed”. Many dual citizens are worried of the next move: is it hand chopping or stone to death or beheading to compete their sister theocracies in the other parts of the Muslim world? British nationals warned of not travel to Somaliland, if necessary, not to pass Hargeisa and Berbera towns where Habar Awal clan are dominant who pro-western and liberal. The other towns see police stations inaugurated to keep the life moving. They are violent and backward.

Road to Mogadishu

Prior to Islamists control of Mogadishu. Military and ordinary business leaders and doctors were brutally murdered for no apparent reason. The naïve folks were given simplistic explanation to calm down. Yes, x tribe behind it? But why elitists alone? Why retired Generals? Why the people have no stakes in what’s going on are killed on weekly basis? Belatedly, and apparently, people realized the Islamists eliminating people deem challenge to them to pave the way the Greater Caliphate in the making, Al-Shabab. Likewise,  a decades later, Somaliland faces the same scenario. Would it recognize the fifth Column of terrorist nature or appease them? Will the world wakes up when it’s too late to deal with the problem when every militant took over the Defense and Intelligence while shaved his beard? Somalilanders don’t examine deaths because those alive die of medical negligence. Unlike the 1991 when no military ragtag died in the hands of another comrade or civilian, the death of military officials marks something of turning point in Islamists playing the most dangerous game of its kind in Somaliland.

In Silanyo’s government, sectarian group formed as a part of democratic exercise, the group known as inqas or Salvation literally the first of its kind in Somaliland democratic history shocked locals and foreign fans of Somaliland. the group belatedly failed to secure party status during the municipal election  meant to save Somaliland Muslims from “filthy” democracy to move people forward to blessed Sharia law system where women are kept indoors, children can be married at the age of 5, men inherit all, and Sheikhs are not just respected but worshipped for they’re agents of Allah on earth and took bullet for their sake. Their words are stronger the national constitution or even sometimes the scripture itself.

Somaliland managed to succeed to make seemingly incompatible systems work: Silanyo’s tribalism, democracy, and THOECRACY not to offend powerful terrorists that wreaked havoc in Somalia.

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Abdirahman Mohamed Dirye

Mr. Dirye is Somaliland Activist and Political Commentator, and Senior Editor at Africa's Desk of Democracy Chronicles, whose works appear in Jerusalem Post, African Review, Big News Network, Toronto Telegraph, New York Statesman, Austin Global, Sudan tribune, Middle East Online, and International Policy Digest.

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