Some progress

12 Sep

I was listening to the BBC World Service this morning and heard something that might help the poor suffering citizens of Somalia. The al-Shabab movement is not only fighting itself, but it has also had a fatwa pronounced against it. Some 160 Somali religious scholars have declared that the aims of the movement are not Islamic.

One of the problems with Islam is that there is no single figure, like the Pope, who can rule on the party line. It has been obvious to me for over a decade that the Islamist militant groups are not motivated by religious extremism but by politics. Now, in one country at least, the scholars have made this clear. Where they have gained footholds of power these groups have governed with the most extreme violence and repression. A certain level of toleration is required for any society to work. But what they want is not so much religious purity as total control. It is possible that they fool themselves into thinking that they are doing ‘holy’ work, and the fatwa will certainly not convince the most militant. Let us hope that those confused by the religious rhetoric from the group will have their religious and moral position clarified.


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