Blasphemous battles

As Im sure youre already aware, the Pope made a speech recently and some Muslims decided to get offended.

Up to now, watching two sets of mutually blasphemous medievalists getting wound up over which petulant sky fairy is more reasonable has been vaguely entertaining. But these things have a habit of getting out of hand.

Gunmen have shot dead an elderly Italian nun and her bodyguard in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The attackers shot the nun three times in the back at a childrens hospital in the south of the city, before fleeing the scene.

It is unclear if the shooting is connected with strong criticism by a radical Somali cleric about the Popes recent comments on Islam.

On Friday, hardline cleric Sheikh Abubakar Hassan Malin told worshippers at his mosque to hunt down and kill whoever offended the Prophet Mohammed.

Music banned in Somalia

First films, and now music has been banned in in parts of Somalia.

Authorities backed by the Islamic Courts Union in Jowhar, some 90 kilometers north of the capital, Mogadishu, shut Radio Jowhar on 11 September 2006, and ordered that its electricity be cut, according to The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and international news reports.

Radio Jowhar is the only FM radio station in the town.

The Associated Press quoted an Islamic official, Sheik Mohamed Mohamoud Abdirahman, as saying that the station’s programmes were “un-Islamic” and that that Radio Jowhar was closed because it aired the “banned music”, music that promotes evil behavior. He said that it was “useless to air music and love songs for the people” and that “we cannot have a radio station playing evil music as we are trying to promote Sharia law across Somalia.”

He also underlined that anyone violating the music ban could be arrested, fined and flogged.

No movies in Mogadishu

Watching a film, a video or a TV show in Somalia has suddenly become a crime.

Even music is now forbidden in this East African country. Over the last few weeks the international media has reported several instances of United Islamic Courts (UIC) gunmen storming into full movie houses and arresting everyone, including women and children.

Hundreds of people, sitting quietly watching a movie are rounded up forcibly and severely punished or even killed. The UIC, who control the capitol and much of Somalia, have decreed entertainment activities such as going to the movies or watching soccer on TV to be prohibited.

Since the country fell apart in 1991, day to day life has meant violence, fear and bribing gunmen high on quat. Not surprisingly then, when the UIC seized military control of Somalia this summer there was hope in the country for a better life. Unfortunately, this has not turned out to be the case and the UIC has announced a series of decrees for the local population - including one forbidding movies, music, films and television shows.

Storytelling has always been an ancient custom with the Somali people who have a vivid oral history of stories, song and poems. Their love of cinema is simply a modern continuation of their tradition of storytelling. But storytelling via celluloid is now strictly forbidden.

According to director Laura J. Forth whose Leopards in the Snow eatures Somalis telling in their own words what they’ve been through in terms of the civil war and the personal suffering they’ve endured: I find it incredibly ironic that on the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival nobody here in Toronto seems to care. Innocent people are being hurt and persecuted just for going to the movies. How sad is that?”

(via The Movie Blog)