September 16, 2012
Muslim clerics in Somalia widely denounced an independent film insulting the Prophet Mohammed, but called for restraint and peaceful demonstrations in line with the tenets of Islam.
Mogadishu-based cleric Sheikh Hassan Abdirahman said Somali clerics strongly condemn the independent film "Innocence of Muslims", which insults the Prophet and Islam as a whole.
"The Prophet, peace be upon him, has a special place in the hearts of Muslims," Abdirahman told Sabahi. He said respecting the Prophet is a religious obligation for Muslims, but stressed the importance of defending the religion in a sensible and wise way, rather than resorting to violence as a means of expressing anger.
"Our behaviour in this regard has to be sound and in harmony with the teachings and principles of Islam, which denounce violence and harm," he said. "We caution against using violence and aggression against innocent people as a way of expressing anger, because murdering innocent souls and destroying property or attacking others is not in line with the teachings of Islam."
"Using violence, vandalism and destruction of property, as well as killing innocent people by storming the headquarters of diplomatic missions and targeting tourists -- which has happened in some Arab countries -- cannot be a solution to this problem," Abdirahman said.
In response to the online release of the film last week, protestors stormed the US embassies in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and violent protests broke out elsewhere in the region. US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other diplomatic staff members were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
Vice Chairman of the Council of Somali Muslim Scholars Sheikh Nur Barud said insulting Islam should not be considered part of freedom of speech. "Freedom of speech does not mean violating religious sanctities," he told Sabahi.
He said the film is an act of aggression intended to insult Muslims and attack their values, as well to incite hatred among Muslims and Christians.
"We at the Council of Somali Muslim Scholars strongly condemn this film that insults the Prophet Mohammed and the Islamic faith. We would also like to express our resentment of repeated abuse against what we hold sacred," he said.
Barud said Muslim countries should take legal actions against this film rather than resort to violence against innocent people. "Muslims should prosecute the individuals and institutions that stand behind the production of such a disgusting film in international tribunals rather than carry out any act that damages Muslims and destroys their case," he said.
"We should not hold the innocent accountable for acts perpetrated by the guilty because killing and attacking innocent people is something that Islam opposes," he said.
Sheikh Mohamed Aden Kheyrow, director general of the Somali Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments, said the Somali government rejects any form of insult to Islam.
"Attacking our Islamic values and insulting our Prophet is unacceptable," he told Sabahi. "With the strongest terms possible, we condemn this film that insults our Prophet Mohammed."
Kheyrow said protestors must abide by the right to peacefully demonstrate and refrain from attacking diplomatic missions. "Islam rejects violence and harm, which is why Muslim demonstrators have to demonstrate peacefully and their reaction has to be rational and wise," he said. "They should not attack foreign guests or diplomatic missions in their countries."
Major cities across Somalia witnessed mass demonstrations on Friday and Saturday (September 14th-15th) denouncing the film.
Mosques were the starting points for demonstrations that took place immediately after Friday prayers. Protestors took to the streets of Mogadishu, as well as in Kismayo, Buulobarde, Galkayo and other cities.
Somali religious leader Abdullahi Sheikh Osman told demonstrators in Mogadishu to peacefully demonstrate against the film. "Do not kill innocent people for something they have not done," Osman said, according to AFP.
"The man who made the nasty film is the al-Qaeda of Christians. If Muslims make havoc, then they are rewarding the crazy man," he said. "The person who made the filthy movie is not a religious person, but a reckless individual who dislikes harmony among people of different religious beliefs."
Mohamed Masud, a university student who took part in the Mogadishu demonstration, said demonstrators made sure their response to the film would not be violent or harmful.
"We took to the streets to defend our Islamic sanctities and to send a message to America and the world that we are not happy with the film that has insulted our Prophet Mohammed and that we can not accept such deplorable acts," Masud told Sabahi.
The al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab movement called for attacking western interests in retaliation for the blasphemous film.
"The al-Shabaab mujahideen are urging people of Somalia to show their love for Islam and particularly to our Prophet Mohammed by making attacks against the West," al-Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage told AFP, without mentioning any specific targets.
In a statement broadcast by Radio Andalus, a mouthpiece for the movement, Rage said, "There should be great sacrifices when your country is under occupation and your religion is also under siege."
At a demonstration in the al-Shabaab-controlled town of Buuloburde in central Somalia on Friday protestors burned an American flag. No one has been reported injured from the demonstrations.
On Saturday, US President Barack Obama denounced the justification for violence. "There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women," he said.
"I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths," he said. "We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion -- including Islam."
Tanzanian police have arrested more than 90 people after a day of protests in which one person wa...
Kenya pleaded to the UN Security Council Thursday (May 23rd) to terminate the International Crimi...
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud presided over a ceremony in Mogadishu Thursday (May 23rd) ...
Foreign ministers of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states gathered in ...
Zanzibari local leader Mohammad Omar Said was attacked with acid Thursday (May 23rd) and is under...
A Puntland court has sentenced seven people to death for the killing of prominent Somali cleric A...
International aid agency the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has announced grants of $4.2 ...
International human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called on Kenya to honour its inter...
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto promised harsher penalties for poachers in the new Wildlife ...
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday (May 23rd) released the final two names of his 18-member...