Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mogadishu Islamic Court Justice: Stabbing to death in public

“For we have reached the place … Where you will see the miserable people, those who have lost the good of the intellect". (Canto III) DANTE, Inferno (Adopted from Links by Nuruddin Farah)
A few days ago in Mogadishu, a young boy of 16 stabbed his father’s killer to death in front of hundreds of spectators who watched as a photographer from Shabellenews took pictures that portray the graphic horror that unfolded before them.

No one tried to stop the horror. The poor man, who stood near a tree, with a hood covering his head and chains tying his feet and hands, fell to the ground after being stabbed in the neck. The boy finished him off by stabbing him repeatedly in the chest while the poor soul lay writhing on the ground.

Regardless of the guilt of the man, the manner of his execution makes one shudder in disgust and horror. It seems that the death sentence and mode of execution were passed by one of the multitude of Islamic courts that sprang up in Mogadishu with the lack of a strong central government.

Islam instructs us to slaughter sheep humanely by using a sharp knife that cuts the jugular vein quickly to prevent the suffering of the animal. In Saudi Arabia , one of the few countries that practice public beheading, the executioner uses a sharp sword that cuts the head of the accused with one stroke bringing immediate death. The barbaric execution that took place in Mogadishu violates these instructions and gives us a picture of cruelty, barbarism, misguided justice and failure to appreciate the value of human life.

This cruel execution brings to my mind a story in the novel links by the great Somali Writer Nuruddin Farah in which the main character in the book, Jeebleh, stops a young boy from torturing an Alsatian dog in labour. Jeeble intervenes forcefully and drives the boy away. He then helps the dog deliver its litter. Jeebleh nearly lost his life when two young men sneak into his hotel room and try to murder him. Jeebleh wonders whether the assassins were after him for the way he treated the elders of his clan in an earlier encounter or for helping the Alsatian.

When I saw the pictures of the execution, I thought that I was in a dream and reading a chapter from Links. But this is was no fiction. It is a real story that actually took place in Mogadishu. Only in this case of the poor man stabbed to death by a 16-year old boy, the crowd lacked a courageous soul like Jeebleh to prevent the barbarous act. Any one trying to protect the poor man would probably have faced the same fate.
The case of this man raises an important issue apart from the way that he was executed. Was the man from a small clan that could not protect him and demand a proper way of execution?
There are precedents to this in Somalia.

A friend of mine told me about a man from the south who was hanged by a mob in a village between Qardho and Bosasso. The man allegedly raped an old woman in the village and his punishment was death by hanging. Another friend of mine told me about a woman that was stoned to death in Hargeisa after the city fell to the SNM. Although the three incidents are different, they share the same mode of barbaric and cruel execution. They also share the fact that the executed person may have hailed from a minority clan that could not protect his/her poor soul.

In Mogadishu there are hundreds of murderers who kill and rape with impunity. Their crimes go unpunished because of the strong clans protecting them. The Islamic law of Mogadishu seems to apply to the poor, weak and unprotected. No one condones the act of murder committed by the executed man, but the manner of his execution is reprehensible. If there was a need for his execution, it should have been carried in a proper Islamic manner.

This incident clearly portrays the need for a strong central government in Mogadishu that brings back law and order to this troubled city held hostage by warlords and Islamic courts controlled by cruel individuals who practice laws that are far removed from true Islam.
Let us all condemn this barbaric act and pray for the people of Mogadishu.
Ali H Abdullaaliegeh@gmail.com
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"