Friday, December 29, 2006

Time for dhikr and music
By Bashir Goth
Phew! Good riddance! The nightmare is over. Yes, I mean the Union of Islamic Courts, UIC. They had their day under the sun and they blew it. They had the support of all Somali people when they stormed to power, routed the notorious warlords, restored peace in Mogadishu, opened the airports and seaports, started addressing looted property issues and began looking like a wise authority.

But instead of capitalizing on the people’s genuine support and willingness to give in and give up everything, they had become power lusty, belligerent and fatwa-crazy. Instead of building bridges with the community, improving services, opening hospitals, winning the trust of international organizations and NGO’s to help them with projects to generate employment, they burned all bridges. They alienated the youth by banning all types of entertainment, segregated women and deprived tens of thousands of families from their only livelihood by banning Khat without bringing an alternative source of income. They even embittered traditional Islamic scholars with their characteristic Wahhabi style of self-righteousness and condescending attitude to mainstream Islam.

Not only did they become more warlords than the ones they had defeated, but they emblazoned their belligerency with Islam and brandished the sword of Jihad, thus projecting themselves in the model of Taliban and regurgitating the tired jihadist rhetoric of Al Qaeda. They mistook their easy ride to power for being an unstoppable revolution and started stirring instability in the peaceful Republic of Somaliland by branding the leadership of that democratic country as an infidel and threatening to bring Somaliland under their Wahhabi cloak. READ MORE in Awdalnews, The Medialine, Khaleej Times,Sufijourneys,waridaad and Washington Post.
Middle East's Misery Poetry
By Bashir Goth
Looking at the situation of the Middle East; from Palestine, Lebanon to Iraq; and further a field from Sudan's Darfur to Somalia and Afghanistan, the only wisdom that rushes to my memory is the classic children's nursery rhyme:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

It is however by delving into the Arab literary wisdom that one stumbles on the prophetic manner in which Arab and Muslim poets and philosophers through history have predicted the present situation with precision. One feels as if time has been frozen. I just let these wise men speak: READ MORE in Washington Post

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Somalia Islamists Should Be Stopped
By Bashir Goth
Somalia for Somalis! Let them run their country as they please. Easy words to say but difficult to accept when it means beheading people for not praying five times a day, chopping hands of those who steal to stay alive in a country where mere survival is a lifelong ambition. Difficult to accept when women are shrouding and denied to breathe fresh air or go about their daily business to feed their children. Difficult to accept when the country's musical heritage is expunged as Satan's work, the cinema is banned and tha watching of world sports is forbidden, thus depriving the youth of the only source of cultural interaction they have with the outside world. Read More at Washington Post,

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Apocalyptic Whistle
By Bashir Goth
Washington Post/Postglobal--Ruth Shanor, an octogenarian American friend of mine who observes the world from her little home in Cowpens, South Carolina, and reads my Postglobal pieces, wrote to me after learning about the release of the Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq:

"Dear Bashir, I have a whistling tea kettle. When I want a cup of tea I put the kettle on the back burner of the stove. I continue with other chores in the kitchen. Usually I completely forget that the temperature is rising in the tea kettle and the water is on the verge of breaking into a full boil. When the silence is finally blasted by an ear-splitting, shrill whistle, it scares me to death. There is no way to ignore the alarm. A call to action! Looks like wiser heads in America are finally screaming that the kettle is about to explode. Your part of the world keeps throwing sticks on the fire also, doesn't it? When will we have that cup of tea?"

An apt analysis indeed. But instead of giving us the recipe for preparing the tea, the Baker-Hamilton report advises the Bush Administration to flee the explosion. The recommendation of engaging Iran and Syria to help solve the Iraqi debacle seems a pragmatic, long-overdue measure. However, looking at the overall defeatist tone of the report, one may conclude that America now turns to Iran and Syria to serve as a lifeboat for the Bush administration. It will then pass along the ticking bomb to Iran and Syria, who it now accuses of fueling the fire. It is their turn to burn.
Read more at Washington Post/Postglobal.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Islamism Rode Democracy's Wave
By Bashir Goth
Somalia/UAE - The Muslim world heeded Washington's call for democratic change, and ushered Islamists in. This may be leaving a bitter taste in Bush's mouth.

It all started with Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood won a record number of seats in the Egyptian parliament, followed by the landslide victory of Hamas in the first Palestinian free and fair elections.

The surprise rise of the Iranian firebrand president Ahmedinajad also came as another blow to any of Washington's hopes of having a reasonable counterpart to talk to in Tehran. With Islamic parties taking control of the democratically elected parliaments of America's traditional friends in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, the Bush administration must have experienced change in Arabia's shifting sands long before the democrats won the latest American elections. MORE Washington Post

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Khat and the Caliphate
By Bashir Goth
Somaliland Times
"A word of truth used with an ill intention" is a maxim attributed to Imam Ali, the fourth Caliph of Islam. This was the first thing that came to mind when I read about the Mogadishu Islamists' decision to ban Khat, the narcotic stimulant, that millions of Somalis use as a pastime and for generating income to feed millions of children in a country where more than 43 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.

Yes, Khat is a curse on the economy, health and family fabric of the Somali people. It props the economies of Somalia's neighboring countries; with Kenyaexporting $250 millions worth of Khat to Somalia annually and Ethiopia earning $60 million a year from Somaliland alone. Most of this money is the remittances sent by overseas Somalis to feed their loved ones back home. In addition to its financial burden, the Khat causes numerous health problems; causes family break ups, wastes people's time and energy and increases the ranks of the country's unemployed as addiction forces millions of productive countryside people to quit their farms and livestock to khat markets, towns and villages. MORE, Qarannews,Wardheernews,Radiosanaag,

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Adopt villages, not pet children
By Bashir Goth

Just as the Europeans justified the scramble for Africa in the19th century and the slave trade before it that it was the white man’s burden to civilise the “Half-devil and half-child,” the celebrities of today justify their child poaching for being in the name of philanthropy and altruism, saving poor children from the heart of darkness and bringing them to the world of light. Anyone who thinks my argument to be unfair or hostile, may convince me how could a person go to an orphanage in a foreign poor country, ask the children to be paraded for them, pick up “a lucky” one, pay cash and get away with their prey.

Adoption by itself is a genuine human need and a noble action that gives a child to a childless person and a good home, comfort and a future to an orphan or poverty stricken child. Needy children however are everywhere; they are in America as they are in Africa and Asia. But why do the celebrities not adopt American children instead of going overseas to adopt African or Asian children. The answer is that there are no children for sale in America. Anyone who wants to adopt goes through years of gruelling procedure to qualify for child adoption. Over there, children are human beings and cannot be bought as toys, playmates or pets for celebrities’ children. But in Africa people are still sold in exchange for beads, tobacco and petty cash. And as a Malawian journalist said: “We are showing to the world that our poverty has extended to the brain.” Read more on Khaleej Times
Adopt villages, not pet children
By Bashir Goth

Just as the Europeans justified the scramble for Africa in the19th century and the slave trade before it that it was the white man’s burden to civilise the “Half-devil and half-child,” the celebrities of today justify their child poaching for being in the name of philanthropy and altruism, saving poor children from the heart of darkness and bringing them to the world of light. Anyone who thinks my argument to be unfair or hostile, may convince me how could a person go to an orphanage in a foreign poor country, ask the children to be paraded for them, pick up “a lucky” one, pay cash and get away with their prey.

Adoption by itself is a genuine human need and a noble action that gives a child to a childless person and a good home, comfort and a future to an orphan or poverty stricken child. Needy children however are everywhere; they are in America as they are in Africa and Asia. But why do the celebrities not adopt American children instead of going overseas to adopt African or Asian children. The answer is that there are no children for sale in America. Anyone who wants to adopt goes through years of gruelling procedure to qualify for child adoption. Over there, children are human beings and cannot be bought as toys, playmates or pets for celebrities’ children. But in Africa people are still sold in exchange for beads, tobacco and petty cash. And as a Malawian journalist said: “We are showing to the world that our poverty has extended to the brain.” Read more on Khaleej Times

Monday, October 23, 2006

Editorial: Newspaper burning immortalizes media defiance
Bashir Goth

True to the superstition of the day, Friday the 13th of October 2006 was a day of bad luck for Somaliland press freedom. On this day, mobs of people, led by religious fanatics assembled in a public square in the second Somaliland city of Buroa, and burned editions of Haatuf newspaper, Somaliland's leading paper. This was the first time in Somaliland's living memory that forces of darkness tried to kill enlightenment.

The newspaper burners also threatened that the paper 's offices will be their next target if it did not stop its critical reporting on Islamists. But what they did not say out loud is that it will be the reporters themselves that would be burning next time. They don't have to say it because we know they are capable of doing it. We have seen it in Iraq, in Sudan, in Pakistan, in Somalia and in other places.
READ MORE at Awdalnews Network

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Editorial - Silencing the watchdog
By Bashir Goth

After banning music, concerts, cinemas, home videos, mixed gender singing in wedding ceremonies and even watching international sports on satellite television, the Islamist clerics in Mogadishu have now decided to deprive the Somali people of their last window of freedom, the free press.

In an attempt to create a supine media that applauds their onslaught on the freedoms of the people, the Wahhabist-oriented Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) have proposed draconian regulations aimed at purging the press of telling the truth. The war-weary and famine ravaged Somali people could not help but to turn a blind eye to the Islamists initial encroachments on their personal freedoms. Well, yes, singing is the nemesis of hunger in Africa, it alleys fear at times of war and entertains the hungry at times of famine, but the Somali people may have thought that relinquishing their right to sing might not be that disastrous if the Islamists were going to bring them real peace and real food. READ MORE On Awdalnews Network.
Sex is a Massive U.S. Industry
By Bashir Goth

Somalia/United Arab Emirates - Americans are not the only ones obsessed with sex and politics. Sex has forever been the bane and blessing of humankind. It is the cause of man's fall. Kingdoms have been turned to dust because of sex. There have been epic conflicts and thousands of ship launched for the sake of a woman. Both female and male sexual organs have been worshipped at times. Holy places often bear the structure of female reproductive organs or are decorated with representations of them. Great works of literature such as Shehrazade's Thousand Nights and the Kama Sutra have been woven around sexual escapades. READ MORE on Washington Post/Postglobal

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Look Out For Shia-Sunni War
By Bashir Goth

Washington Post/Postglobal,4Oct. 2006=
Somalia/United Arab Emirates - Given the abhorrent sectarian strife in Iraq, one might envision federalism as the only reasonable way to stop the bloodshed and pinch down violence to its roots. But dividing the country into oil rich Shiite south and Kurdish north with a Sunni dominated waste land in the West and northwest will be a recipe for a more explosive situation. Oil will fuel a long struggle for survival.

One must also consider the ethnic and religious groups such as Assyrians, Turkmen, Armenians, Persians, Christians and Jews that could lose their identity and political rights within a federal Iraq.

The source of the current violence is unclear. It is hard to believe that citizens of the same country could commit such unprecedented crimes against each just in the name of revenge or in a power struggle. The only plausible explanation is that what is happening in Iraq is a war by proxy of neighboring regional powers. It is known that the rule of Iraq was in the hand of Sunni Arabs since the Umayyad dynasty. The Kurds had also their day in power through the Ayyubids whose rule extended from Iraq through the Levant countries to Egypt.
READ MORE Washington Post

Friday, September 29, 2006

Community Censorship Plagues the House of Islam
By Bashir Goth

Even worse than the official censorship is censorship imposed by the community, which then becomes self-censorship. Friends, colleagues and even ordinary acquaintances all impose strict censorship rules on me under the guise of being concerned about my personal safety or honor. They demand that I tone down my strong views about sensitive issues.

Freedom of the press in the Muslim world cannot be separated from freedom of expression in general. Journalists, due to their conspicuous public role, risk their lives everyday. They have been targeted and killed in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan and other countries. The Muslim world is not a friendly place for freedom of speech at all.

Journalists, creative writers and artists all share the same fate. The writer in a Muslim society is in shackles. Every time I put pen to paper it is a struggle against the tyranny of community-imposed self-censorship. Nowhere is Rousseau's statement that "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains," truer than in the House of Islam.
Read More Washingpost/Postglobal,
More Commentaries ussneverdock,antimedia,pickledpolitics, Democracy-project,
tailrank and Censor Watch.
Why No Action in Darfur? Race
By Bashir Goth

Looking at the prolonged suffering of the people of Darfur, one wonders why the world fails to act? There is a nagging explanation that comes to the African's mind: The question of race.

Back in July 2004 the two chambers of the U.S. Congress passed a resolution declaring the atrocities in Darfur genocide. Since then the world has been making a lot of sympathetic noise but taken no tangible action to pacify Darfur. Apart from the African Union's under financed and ill-equipped peacekeeping force, the world has been turning a deaf ear to what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian disaster.
Read More Washingtonpost/postgloal
Politics Precedes Religion
By Bashir Goth

Looking at the Middle East and the Muslim world in general one can see that Pope Benedict's tongue in cheek apology didn't go down well. One of the renowned scholars, Sheikh Yousef Al Qaradawi, said in his popular Al Jazeera Television program that he thought the Pope had not apologized. Qaradawi had even called on Muslims to hold a day of " anger" on Friday, the last Friday before the start of Ramadan.
Read more WashingtonPost/Postglobal

Thursday, September 21, 2006

September 18, 2006 - 15:56
Editorial - Sister Leonella, yet another humanitarian murdered
By Bashir Goth

"I forgive", she said, "I forgive". True to her nature of kindness, altruism and a heart devoid of rancor and vengeance, Sister Leonella Sgorbati, had with these words taught a lesson to her cowardly killers in her last breath of life.

She was adamant to the last minute to emphasize that the criminal action of a few lost souls were not going to rob her of her love for humanity and the beauty of forgiveness. She refused her goodness to be defeated by evil and her humanitarian mission to be overshadowed by cruelty. She lived as an angel of mercy and died as a saint.

Just like her countrywoman Annalena Tonelli before here, sister Leonella Sgorbati viewed her killers as misguided and disturbed individuals who needed her help and being on her deathbed the only help she could offer was to embrace them and protect them despite their despicable action.

Like Annalena, Sister Leonella had for many years cared for the orphaned children, the mental patients, the infirm elders, the sick and abandoned individuals and the marginalized children of God. She chose her Spartan life in Somalia to a life of plenty in her own country. She found her paradise in caring for the sick and the destitute in one of the most dangerous places and culturally one of the most ungrateful people on earth.

As a martyr she lived and as a martyr she died. And heaven knows that she will reap the good she sowed on earth in the life after.

She forgave her killers because unlike us ordinary human beings she saw that evil could only be defeated by goodness. But we ordinary human beings know that there are certain evil men that cannot be transformed by any amount of good. We, therefore, demand these hapless and mean human beings be brought to justice and punished for their heinous crime.

It is time for the Islamists of Mogadishu to stop shifting the blame and act responsibly to bring these culprits to justice. It is time for them to prove to the world that Islamic justice is not only about flogging delinquents and burning music videos but also protecting and respecting human life regardless of race and religion.

It is about time that they show the world that those foreigners who care for our poor and our sick are holier and deserve God’s mercy more than any self proclaimed cleric who sees nothing but evil come from people of other religions.

Also on Awdalnews Network

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Editorial: Sleeping with a devil in Islamic clothing
By Bashir Goth

Peace is sweet but peace without dignity and freedom is no peace at all. The Islamists who took the power in Mogadishu told the people to have peace, go about their business, eat and drink, conjugate and have many children, go to the mosque and pray five times a day, send their children to Madrasses where they get brainwashed and chant Koran interpreted in a satanic way by Wahhabist/Salafist clerics and give praise to Allah that the warlords who kept them hostage for 15 years have gone.

They compare their conquest of Mogadishu to that of Prophet Mohammed's conquest of Mecca from the Quraishite pagans. They believe that they are acting on God's behest and that the Almighty guides their guns. We tell them that they are not the army of Mohammed and that they are not in anyway nearer to Allah than a woman dancing to music in a beautiful wedding or tantalizing people's inner feelings with her melodious voice. We tell them that prophet Mohammed didn't ban music and dance and did not in anyway deny people to enjoy the pleasures of life. He is the one who told Aisha to send a singing girl for an Ansari wedding and who allowed Aisha to watch African dancers on an Eid day in Mecca. Mohammed is he who said that "God did not send me to be harsh, or cause harm, but He sent me to teach and make things easy."

The warlords used brute force to coercion people and the Islamists use brute religion to dehumanize people. They ban music not because it is against religion but because it is beyond their realm of control. They close cinema houses and theatre not because they spread vice but because they want to keep the people in the dark. They hide women not because Islam orders their mummification but because Islamists suffer from a masculinity problem. They think he who is not a master of his wife cannot be a master of others. Power and tyranny is their ultimate goal and tyranny should first crush and subdue the weak so the strong could tremble. Anyone who wants to see where the Islamists would like to lead Somalia should only see how they treat women, music and ideas. These three elements constitute the beauty, spirit and future of any nation. In a story published by the Islamist Qaadisiya website on the graduation of 140 women who completed a course on cooking and handicrafts at a center called Asma Bint Omair Center, reflects a glimpse of what is in store for women. Only pictures of the Islamist officials who attended the ceremony and row after row of food was shown. It seems as if the photographer tried to accentuate his frustration by showing many food items, as he was not allowed to show the faces of women for whom the ceremony was held. READ MORE on Awdalnews, MEMRI,Joels Trumpet,

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Somaliland: the only hope remaining in Africa's Pandora's Box

By Bashir Goth
A Somali anecdote says that the elders of a clan had agreed to call for a council meeting.

"Call all the elders," one of them said, to which a little boy who was up in the tree under which the meeting was to be held responded:

“Don’t call only the elders; call the intelligent people of the clan?” Realizing the sagacity of his words, the elders decided to include him in the meeting.

Over the last 15 years, Somaliland has been like that little boy, calling African elders to heed the voice of sagacity and wisdom on its issue, while African leaders have been blocking their ears and turning their backs to it.

Often described as “ Africa’s Best Kept Secret”, Somaliland is the youngest and best example of an African homegrown democracy. Its statehood, however, goes back into the dawn of Africa's postcolonial history when Somaliland emerged as an independent and sovereign state from the British rule in 1960 as part of Africa ’s wind of change.

Amid the euphoria of nationalism spearheaded by Africa's liberation fathers of the day, Somaliland gave up its hard won independence to unite with Italian Somalia as the precursor of a greater Somalia, which included bringing all the Somali territories in the Horn of Africa under one national flag.

Read full story on Awdalnews;
Wardheernews; Qarannews

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Somali Blogosphere
Confused by events in Somalia? We certainly were, so we checked out the website of Somalia's leading blogger, Bashir Goth, and then gave him a call. The bottom line, says Goth, is that the Islamic coalition (known as the Islamic Courts Union) that has taken control of Mogadishu from the warlords isn't all bad. They have brought order to a lawless city and even outspoken anti-Islamists like Goth are holding their fire for the moment.

Bashir Goth was the first Somali blogger and is now at the forefront of a growing Somali blogosphere that often challenges Western opinion. To get a sense of this Somali view, I collaborated with my colleague Tom Isherwood to check out Somali cyberspace. While foreign press largely condemned the rise of the ICU labeling them a new Taliban, these Somalis see some potential.

For 15 years, warring militias have ravaged Mogadishu, making it perhaps the poorest and most dangerous city on earth. At "isbaaro" checkpoints lining the roadways, rival clan militias routinely robbed and murdered civilians. Around 1999, local Shariah courts arose to protect neighborhoods and, as columnist Abi Egal argues, many of them succeeded.

Now the ICU has done what no Somali leader or internationally-brokered government has been able to: It unified the city under one authority and pacified Mogadishu. Though the ascension of radical Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys last week may be a setback, his more "moderate" colleague Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (see his interview with Goth) has shown initial readiness to talk to U.S. officials and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia.

As Goth says, if the ICU decides to work with the TFG and if international pressures can push aside the more radical clerics (without funding "Anti-terror" warlords), a fragile peace is possible.

By Amar Bakshi | June 28, 2006; 10:41 AM ET
Read comments.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Could Mogadishu Islamic Courts be eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize? - June 22, 2006 - 02:04

By Bashir Goth

If impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools as remarked by Napoleon Bonaparte, the world may see the Somali Islamist fighters of the Union of Islamic Courts in Mogadishu reversing the trend of history by turning tables on advocates of the clash of civilizations, by inventing a new meaning for the concept of Islamism and by becoming alien contenders for the Nobel peace prize.

A bizarre idea you may say and I would agree with you as long as you and I are normal people living under normal circumstances. But imagine if you live 15 years in a state of lawlessness where your day starts with death and ends with death, where your only hope in life is to return safely to your family from the shortest trip to the bakery, where you live in constant fear of an imminent rape for the womenfolk of your household, where an hour without seeing a bullet riddled corpse at your doorstep is heaven's gift, where your children's lullaby is the sound of mortar explosions and their sleeping riddles is to compete with each other on figuring out which sound belonged to which gun. Imagine if you live in a city that has been destroyed beyond recognition, where 90 per cent of your neighborhood have either been killed or have left without any hope of returning, where ruthless warlords coercion you and rob you of anything of value that you own, where your relatives, your friends, your childhood classmates have either been murdered, crippled or have died on the high seas while seeking a safer place. Imagine you live in a city where the only familiar sound you hear, reminding you of the good old days and giving you hope for the future is the prayers' call coming from your neighborhood mosque. Read on Awdalnews, Wardheernews, also read an updated version in Khaleej Times under title Making Sense of Somalia
Awdalnews - - SomaliNews
Exclusive Interview- Sheikh Sherif welcomes dialogue with Washington - June 09, 2006 - 15:55

Awdalnews Network=

MOGADISHU, 9 June 2006--Sheikh Sherif Sheikh Ahmed, Chairman of the Somali Islamic Courts Union, today welcomed a dialogue with the United States, describing the Bush Administration's willingness to talk to them as Washington's "first step towards the right direction."

"We know that a lot of wrong information has been given to the U.S. They have been fed with lies and Somalia has been portrayed to them as a threat, which is baseless," he said.

In an exclusive telephone interview with Bashir Goth of Awdalnews Network on 9th June 2006, Sheikh Sherif also explained that what happened in Mogadishu was a popular uprising and not an Islamic Courts' conquest of the capital, noting that all fighters on the Islamic Courts side were natives of Mogadishu and there were rarely any other Somalis among their ranks let alone foreign elements.

He denied having called for the establishment of an Islamic State in Somalia and said that the Islamic Courts had no intention of forcing women to adhere to strict Islamic dress code.

"People are Muslims but no one forces them to do anything. It is a personal obligation and the person has to adhere to it by his own," he said.

He expressed his delight at the achievements of the people of Somaliland, saying that their secession was due to mistakes committed against them in the past.

"I congratulate the Somaliland people, they have worked hard. They are people we love; they are Somali people. Somaliland's secession was due to mistakes that happened in the past. For our part, we would like these mistakes to be addressed. We believe they are the first people concerned with this issue because their property, their wealth and their blood are in the soil.," Sheikh Sherif said. Read more and on afrol

Monday, May 22, 2006

Somaliland: where peace and democracy make no headlines
Bashir Goth
Mention Somalia and images of famine, warlords, fratricide and Black Hawk Down will jump to one's mind. The country barely exists on the world map let alone the world agenda. Since the last central government was forced out of power more than 15 years ago, the people have been hijacked by hordes of warlords who prospered by robbing and looting international food aid meant for the millions of internally displaced and famished civilians, mostly women, children and elderly.

These thugs-turned warlords have foiled every attempt by the international community to restore peace and normalcy to the country. It is no wonder that the people of Mogadishu have come to view the equally cruel and more barbaric Islamic courts, pushing the establishment of a Taliban-like Islamic state in Somalia, as the lesser of the two evils. Tired and exhausted of 15 years of war, coercion, and being forced to flee from war zone to war zone in search of a safe place to rest, people saw the draconian rules imposed by the Islamic courts as an exceptional remedy to an exceptional situation where the bare existence of human beings let alone human dignity has come under constant threat. Just like Taliban had restored a semblance of peace and stability in Afghanistan, the Mogadishu Islamic courts have by the implementation of their strict brand of Islam brought an end to banditry and coercion and restored a peace of sorts in the areas under their control. Who cares if women are kept under the wrap, if limbs of poor burglars are chopped in public, if murderers are tied to trees and teenage children of slain victims are given the sword to hack their bodies in public squares! Well, dire circumstances call for dire and absurd methods of treatment, one may say. Only one who lived 15 years in a state of anarchy will understand why absurd and inhumane institutions like the Islamic courts look like the guardians of Eden in Mogadishu.

Compare this macabre situation with the story of Somaliland, the former British Somaliland Protectorate, which had, after gaining its independence on 26 June 1960, united with Italian Somalia in the South and formed with it the Somali Republic. Somaliland, which had reclaimed its sovereignty and abandoned the union on 18 May 1991 after the collapse of the central Somali government, had not only spared itself the apocalyptic status in Italian Somalia but has over the last 15 years restored peace and stability and embarked on a marvelous journey of building the country's executive, legislative and judicial institutions on a unique home-grown amalgam of time-tested traditional systems and western democracy.
Read more on Awdalnews,also Khaleej Times, Wardheernews,

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

When nations yearn for their tormentors
Both Iraq and Somalia have been ruled by ruthless dictators who squeezed their nation’s resources to the last drop, building hollow military machines=


BY BASHIR GOTH, Khaleej Times, 18 April 2006=
A POPULAR story says that when Hajjaj Bin Yusuf Al Thaqafi, the notorious tyrant, the butcher of many Muslims and the viceroy of the Ummayad rulers in Iraq, was about to die he wanted to do something that would make the people yearn for his reign and pray for his soul despite the atrocities and the genocides he committed against them.

He ordered that those who carried his coffin to the graveyard should take a straight path and should demolish every building, house or mosque they encountered in their way, regardless of who owned it. When the order was carried out, the affected people thought that it was Hajjaj’s successor who ordered this destruction and brought such unprecedented calamity on them. They spontaneously started cursing the new viceroy and asked God’s mercy on Hajjaj’s soul saying: “Salamullah Ala Hajjaj or May peace be upon the soul of Hajjaj.”

It is a tragedy for a nation to survive under the highhandedness of a tyrant who inflicts untold misery on it, but a far worse tragedy is when the moment of deliverance arrives, that the new saviours usher in a situation that makes the era of their predecessors’ reign like Plato’s ideal city; A situation where instead of breathing a sigh and nursing their wounds, people look back at the old days with nostalgia and yearn for its return.
Read more on:Khaleej Times, Awdalnews,Wardheernews,, QaranNews,

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Will the Arabs dare to listen to Somaliland?
BY Bashir Goth*
Mar 27, 2006 — The Arab League has the habit of leaving issues to fester until such time when surgical intervention becomes necessary from foreign powers whose interests do not necessarily match those of the Arab world.

Examples are plenty but a few recent ones include Somalia, Southern Sudan and Darfur, Iraq and the Lebanese-Syrian issue. None of these issues has come out of the blue. All of them have been fermenting and escalating for years before they have reached the bursting point. All the time, the Arabs were using an ostrich mentality and burying their heads; hoping that they one day could raise their heads to find things fixed by some divine power. It is quite perplexing how Arabs love the status quo and use all their energy and resources to ensure that things stay as they are; they do this not only because they prefer stability and peace to the turbulence and commotion that often result from change but because they also fear that any change may rock the murky waters of Arab politics and expose the Arabs inability to deal with it.

Realpolitik also seems to elude the Arab focus, while sentimentalism and empty nationalistic slogans blur the clarity of their vision. A real example of the Arabs propensity for idealism and contempt for pragmatism is their famous Khartoum Resolution of 1967 which carried the three "nos" of Arab-Israel relations at that time: No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel.

It took another decade for Egypt’s Anwar Sadat to cause a political Tsunami in Arab politics and inject the first dose of realipolitik into the Arab political lexicography. Other than the masterly strike of Sadat, all other Arab attempts of realpolitik came too late when the political landscape had already changed beyond recognition and they had to face the bitter reality of opting for face saving tactics.

Now as the Arabs hold their 18th summit in Khartoum on 28-29 March 2006, one issue that calls for a masterful realpolitik decision is that of the little known country of Somaliland. By just evoking the name, one can anticipate frowns on faces of Arab politicians. More Sudan Tribune, Awdalnews Network, WardheerNews,,Qarannews

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cartoons put a great religion to the test
By Bashir Goth

To Muslims, Islam is the religion of peace and reason. The holy Qur'an is said to be the greatest miracle given to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. Other prophets were given visual and tangible miracles. Jesus Christ's miracle was to raise the dead, restore the vision for the blind and heal the leper. Moses had his staff turned into an obvious serpent that dazzled the Pharaoh magicians; he also struck the sea with his rod to split it asunder, allowing him and his followers to escape the persecution of the Pharaoh. For David God made the Iron supple for him and taught him the language of the birds, while the wind was subjugated for Solomon and he also could understand the language of animals and use birds as messengers.

As for Muhammad, Muslims believe that his greatest miracle was the word, Al Qur'an, as can be seen in the first Qur’anic verses ever revealed to him:

“Read in the name of your Lord, who created, created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is most bountiful. (He who taught) the use of the pen taught man which he knew not.” (96: 1- 5)

However, it seems Muslims today have lost their intellectual fortitude. The Muslim nation is the nation that dazzled the world with its free and powerful theological and philosophical discourse in the Middle Ages. The nation that had translated Greek and Roman knowledge, studied it with voracity and opened new vistas in the fields of alchemy, astronomy, geography, history, medicine, philosophy and great theological rhetoric. The nation that boasted of carrying the touch of knowledge in the hands of great men of learning such as Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, Ibn Sina or Avicenna, Abu Nasr Al-Farabi or Alpharabius, Jabir Ibn Hayyan or Geber, Ibn Al Haitham and great sufists like Al Hallaj, Hassan Al Basri, Al-Ghazali, Abdul Qadir Al Jilani, Jalaluddin Rumi and Ibn Al Arabi. To say that such a nation is defeated by amateur catoons penned down by an an adventurous artist in a little known European newspaper is an insult to the core message and mammoth history of Islam. Read more on , WardheerNews,,,Online Opinion Australia's e-journal of soical and political debate , Somalilnd Times and Ethiopian SSinformer

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Editorial - African leaders, Somaliland is calling, do you hear us?
By Bashir Goth
January 24, 2006 - 11:43
Honorable leaders, we know your hands are full and the issues on your table are heavier than mountains, so we assume. We also know that Somaliland is not one of them; because it doesn't have the hallmarks it needs to be qualified to attract your attention. How can it appeal to you when there are no warlords, no smoking guns and no bloodshed; not even mass movement across the border or desperate boat people running away from genocide. For heavens sake, what a dull country it is! We can hear you say. Just peace, stability and democracy; dismiss it; next point, please.

Read more at:
Awdalnews Network
A reality check for Africa’s leaders
BY Bashir Goth
24 January 2006
A SOMALI anecdote says that a mother couldn’t find anything to cook for her children for dinner so she put strange looking stones in a pot, added water and spices and placed it on the stove. She then started telling stories and singing lullabies to the children.

The water gurgling in the pot and the smell of the spices had given the children the illusion of food coming. The mother continued singing and chastising the obstinate pot for refusing to yield. Waiting as long as long as they could, the children were finally overcome by sleep and each one of them had dozed off on the mother’s sweet lullaby.

In contrast to this steadfast mother, African leaders are meeting on the banks of the Blue Nile of Khartoum to a lavish welcome with newly built villas, swimming pools, health clubs and latest fashion furniture and interior decorations imported from Europe; while they dine on gourmet food served on fine china sets specially flown from France. While millions of African children and women sleep under the open sky with nothing to protect them from the biting cold, rains and hungry wildlife looking for anything to bite, even emaciated human flesh, African leaders will sleep on beautiful linen and will have French trained butlers on standby at their door steps to respond to every groan and moan they make.

Read more at:
Khaleej Times,Read also on Awdalnews Network and Wardheernews
The better half: Africa’s long marginalized women are finally taking bold and decisive strides towards the echelons of power
Bashir Goth
23 January 2006
DOWN the years, African women have been powerful in all realms of life except in leadership and decision-making positions. They have been powerful breadwinners, inexhaustible child bearers, patient mothers, dutiful wives, family hut builders, relentless farmers and firewood collectors.
The picture of the African woman hauling heavy loads of carriage on her head, water container on her back and a child on her chest; while trekking miles and miles under rainy weathers or simmering heat and dusty environments, with her man shamelessly strolling beside her with only a stick in his hand, reflects the epitome of her servitude.

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Khaleej Times, also read on Awdalnews Network, Wardheernews,

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Hajj: from pilgrimage to holiday
By Bashir Goth
While most of the hajj-bound people from other continents still struggle to make the life-time journey with the same fervor, the same passion and the same difficulties, albeit less taxing than the situation was in the old days, there is a new phenomenon of a picnic like hajj in the Arab Gulf countries. Due to economic affluence, proximity to the holy places and the lack of the quota system imposed by the Saudi Arabian authorities on other Muslim countries, many of the people in the region have the luxury of making the trip yearly with no life-long savings, no overwhelming passion and yearning, no arduous preparation, no tearful good byes, no sweat and toil and sadly resulting in no change in attitude and lifestyle upon their return.
More on Awdalnewsalso WardheerNewsand Aljazeerah

Monday, January 02, 2006

Back to Africa: With Europe shutting its door on immigration, Africa should return to its Dark Continent status
Bashir Goth, Khaleej Times, 02 January 2006=

In Africa, if a girl loses her virginity in a rape, the rapist has to take her as his bride or has to compensate her family handsomely. Africa has lost its virginity to Europe and expected to be taken home as a bride or be compensated for her shattered pride, but the Europeans saw her as a whore who allowed a stranger to have his way with her so willingly.
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