Islamists order Somali radio stations to stop playing music

| Apr. 14, 2010 | London, England

Published by The Times

Somali radio stations have replaced music with everyday sounds—such as car horns, gunshots and animal noises—following a decree from an Islamist insurgent group demanding they stop broadcasting music because it is "un-Islamic".

The ultimatum by Hizbul Islam gave radio stations 10 days to clear the airwaves of anything resembling music or face “serious consequences”.

“We have replaced the music of the early morning programme with the sound of the rooster, replaced the news music with the sound of the firing bullet and the music of the night programme with the sound of running horses,” said Osman Abdullahi Gure, director of Radio Shabelle, one of the biggest stations in the country’s capital, Mogadishu.

“We haven’t had time to replace all the programmes at one time. Instead, we have chosen these sounds,” Gure told The New York Times.

Of the sixteen FM radio stations in Mogadishu, only two have resisted the threat, government-controlled Radio Mogadishu and UN-funded Radio Bar-Kulan.

Radio Mogadishu is protected by African Union peacekeepers while Radio Bar-Kulan’s studios are based in Kenya.

Radio station management had little option but to comply with the ruling by insurgents for fear of deadly attacks on their staff.

“Journalists working in these stations have in the past witnessed broad daylight assassination of their colleagues and have now been signalled that they would follow the same fate if they do not obey these oppressive orders,” said Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary-General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

“Mogadishu media has become a defenceless victim that is exposed to all sorts of oppression, abuse and brutality,” added Faruk

“But what is most disappointing is that those who claim friends of Somalia and Somalis have continued to watch from a distance at these horrific oppression, heinous crimes including the killing of journalists and the suppression of mankind without putting in any effort to restore law and sanity.”