At least a dozen women and three men were arrested in the coastal town of Barawe, 250 km south of Mogadishu, on March 6 by militants loyal to al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist group fighting the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia (TFG).
The reason for the detention was the women were serving food to poor people, clerics and guests in what is known in Somalia as Xus (remembrance of the dead).
For many traditionalists in Somalia, remembrance of the dead has a unique sentimental attachment to ancestors. Many tend to organize a service, giving food to the poor and guests while Ulima (religious men) read the Koran, Islam’s Holy Book, begging Allah to forgive the dead person’s sins.
Al-Shabaab loyalists detest such practices and will certainly raid any house where animals have been slaughtered and food is being cooked for these remembrance ceremonies.
“The radical al-Shabaab loyalists can detect a camel being led for sacrifice akin to a good hyena smelling blood from miles,” remarked a resident of Barawe who did not wish to be identified for his own safety.
Again last Friday morning, militants loyal to al-Shabaab apprehended several elderly men from a house in Karaan district in north Mogadishu.
The elders whose number has not been ascertained were taken to a police station and accused of being traditionalists because they were found consuming coffee beans cooked in ghee together with boiled beans in sorghum.
This mix is considered a delicacy for elders who take it on Fridays, which in Muslim-populated countries like Somalia is the week’s resting day.
Source: By ABDULKADIR KHALIF