Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Secularism for Somalia Forever

In response to a recent article that I have posted at commenting on President Sharif‘s visit in Britain, some readers who contacted via email, were critical of my proposition that rather than supporting extremism in Somalia those Somalis in the Diaspora particularly in the West should learn more about secularism and its benefits in order to help Somalia gear towards a more secular state. They felt that it would be foolish to advocate secularism in Somalia, a Muslim country, and any event it would be up to the Somali people to decide on a secular or Islamic state. Also, some argued that because of the civil war, which has destroyed the very fabric of the Somali society, where a mixture of customary laws, Islamic faith teachings and Western secular thoughts seem not to have worked, that Islam is the only common identity and denominator that could be used to remould the broken foundation. And therefore in order to do that one needs an Islamic republic.

However, others were supportive of my suggestion, and were happy with the idea of secularism in Somalia. The views of the last group are probably rare because of the current madness and hype around religion created by political Islam and the atmosphere of intolerance that it has created in our country where different groups are vying for power in order to implement their different versions of Islam.

Secular Somalia forever

Before I proceed with the rest of my article, including explaining the concept of secularism and its benefits, it would only be fair to remind the readers of the proposition that I put forward so that those who have not read the previous article can reflect and ponder on the question. The proposition is as following:

“Another appoint that kept me wonder was if President Sharif was welcomed by the government of a secular state which is now providing sanctuaries for hundreds of thousands of Muslim Somalis – whose religious rights are protected by the state – rather than supporting extremism, why we Somalis can’t learn from our experiences in this country and other western countries in order to learn more about secularism and its benefits? So that we can try to help our country gear towards a more secular state similar to what we had before the collapse of the central government in 1991? Imagine what the situation of thousands of Somalis in this country would be if the UK was a fundamentalist Christian state where its citizens and residents were obliged and expected to adhere to its Christian faith? And those who fail to conform would be subjected to severepunishments”

Indeed it is a reality that Britain is among many other secular states worldwide that provide sanctuaries to hundreds of thousands of Muslim Somalis. Regardless of their religious or ethnicity Somalis, like many other ethnic groups, have equal obligations and rights to state protection, access to social services, economic and even political opportunities. And in addition to that, their religious rights are being protected by the state. This is thanks to secularism in these countries. So the question is why support a fundamentalist state or even a theocracy state in Somalia when you can see and are still enjoying benefits of secularism in this country. One can understand those back home, who have not experienced secularism and its benefits, but how can one understand those in the Diaspora enjoying the benefits of secularism but only to advocate extremism and religious intolerance in Somalia?

Although this writer does not pretend to be an expert on secularism, it would only be fair to highlight some aspects of the concept and its benefits in this article, particularly to show how it would be wise to encourage and advocate the concept in Somalia at this particular moment in history where religious intolerance and extremism are rife and are dismantling the very social and cultural fabric of our beloved country. The following is what experts say about the concept of secularism, which has its intellectual and philosophical origins in Roman, Greek philosophers and even in medieval Muslim scholars:

Secularism is the concept that government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs. In one sense, secularism may assert the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, and freedom from the government imposition of religion upon the people, within a state that is neutral on matters of belief. In another sense, it refers to the view that human activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be based on evidence and fact unbiased by religious influence. The purposes and arguments in support of secularism vary widely. On one hand, it has been argued that secularism is a movement toward modernization, and away from traditional religious values. This type of secularism, on a social or philosophical level, has often occurred while maintaining an official state church or other state support of religion. Others argue that state secularism has served to a greater extent to protect religion from governmental interference, while secularism on a social level is less prevalent. Within countries as well, differing political movements support secularism for varying reasons.

In other words, separation of power of the church, mosque or theological doctrine from the state so that religious considerations do not hold much weight on political decisions, and that state institutions, and economic, social and educational policies are not influenced by religious grounds/considerations. For example, teaching the theory of creationism in schools would not be allowed to overtake the theory of evolution, two different concepts in explaining origins of species. In a fundamentalist Christian or Islamic state there would probably be more emphasis on creationism on the expenses of evolution but in a secular state it would be possible to teach both concepts on equal terms. This would be a good start for young enquiring minds, who, if given a well-researched information and balanced curriculum can make up their minds about these huge philosophical concepts. In a democratic secular state, such as Canada etc. people will still have their religious rights, and should be able to practise their faith but religion will only be in the private sphere and not in the public domain.

The following are some examples that illustrate benefits of secularism in today’s world. The vast majority of the 192 UN member states (probably 90%) are secular states with different reasons, practices and stages in implementing the concept of secularism, except very few states, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan (former secular states), and now some parts in southern Somalia where “Islamist” and extremists are planning to introduce a fundamentalist Islamic state similar to that of Saudi Arabia or Iran.

France: A country with a population of 65,447,374 is secular state with religious freedom guaranteed by its constitution. Catholics 51%, agnostics or atheists 31%, 10% from other religions or being without opinion, Muslims 4%, Protestant 3%, Budhist 1%, Jewish 1%.

India: A country with a population of 1,178,900,000 and with many different ethnic and religious groups, including Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism etc. Although communal and religious violence have been an issue since independence, it is probably the state of secularism that is helping these different ethnic and religious groups, though not perfect, to co-exist in harmony and peace, and also to practise their faith as much as they like.

Ethiopia: A neighbouring country with a population of 79,221,000 with different ethnic and religious groups (Christians 62.8%, Muslims 33.9% and 2.6% traditional, 0.6 other) is a living good example of a tolerant state-nation. Although not perfect and there is much work to be done different ethnic and religious groups live side by side in peace and harmony, as they practise their faith as much as they like. Churches are being built alongside mosques. Imagine if the state were a fundamentalist Christian or Islamic?

The writer can go on listing many more secular states with different experiences and stages in the implementation of secularism but above examples are more than enough to make the point.

Although there is a good point about using Islam as a common identity and denominator and therefore an Islamic state would be the logical conclusion of any political settlement, however, because of the current atmosphere of intolerance and religious bigotry that has divided the country into opposing religious fiefdoms, it is indeed questionable, whether such arguments could be sustained, or indeed are desirable. There you have a country – particularly the south – where people are being persecuted or killed for their religious beliefs, or are being ostracised for heresy etc. So the question is given the current bad atmosphere would you encourage or discourage religion? In my view, what Somalis need to do right now is to de-sensitize religion and use secularism as a base for reconstituting a united secular Somali state. After all Somalia has been a secular state since independence in which religion belonged to the private sphere. Current stable regions, such as “Somaliland” and “Puntland” seem to be going towards secularism and that should be supported.

For those who advocate for an Islamic state in Somalia which, according to their views, would create a tolerant, stable and progressive society, need only to look at the state of affairs in Saudi Arabia and Iran where tolerance is out of question and religious minorities are being persecuted; where theocracy is being used to repress dissent and different political opinions, and to muzzle creative, questioning and enquiring minds.

I appreciate that I am probably a lone voice for many of voiceless secular Somalis with untold stories, who if given a choice between a secular or theological state, provided they are given correct and balanced information and without coercion or intimidation, would probably vote for secularism for Somalia.

Muuse Yuusuf

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Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

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