The Al Shabab moment

GOVERNMENTS AND religious scholars from Somalia to Pakistan these days are engaged in a task that is more easily said than being done. Their intention is to speak up against militant groups who, of late, had created a state within a state, and busy gunning down sectarian opponents for no rhyme or reason.

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Published: Sun 15 Sep 2013, 11:40 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:49 AM

The trend continues from Afghanistan to Pakistan and from the marshlands of Iraq to Mogadishu. An important move to address this madness was undertaken by religious scholars of Somalia who unanimously came up with a fatwa (edict) saying that the activities of Al Shabab are un-Islamic and their ideology is anti-state and anti-people. This is a courageous statement, and has come from no less than 160 scholars from all schools of thought. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who opened the conference, enjoyed overwhelming support from not only scholars from across the board but also regional and world powers, who are eager to see a political and negotiated way out of the crisis. It would be quite difficult for Al Shabab, which is fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia, to swim against the tide, as the scholars come with popular backing from their respective constituencies. The fact that Al Shabab will find itself marginalised, at least on the ideologue pretext, is an achievement in itself.

The conference in Mogadishu has come at an opportune time. The end of military operations in Chad and other East African countries – led by France -- wherein the Islamist extremists were successfully pushed back, including the setback that Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants had attained, is a good omen for the Dark Continent and its dispossessed people. But Al Shabab, which had indulged in ruthless killings and controls many towns and villages, allegedly enjoys the support of Al Qaeda in Africa and is a tough nut to crack. This edict should be endorsed by religious scholars from other Muslim countries and at the same time organisations like Al Shabab invited for a broad-based dialogue by giving up militancy.

A similar approach is being experimented in Pakistan, wherein an official invitation on behalf of the state has been sent to the Taleban for giving up arms and redressing their grievances through dialogue. The militant organisations from Pakistan to Somalia can take a lesson from Hamas and Hezbollah and become a part and parcel of political activity in a redefining manner.

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