Thursday, December 24, 2015: Somalia government has banned the celebrations of Christmas nationwide for reasons of security and threats from newly introduced Islamic State. The mainstream radical Islamist organization al-Shabaab is also one of the threats that have forced government’s hand to ban Christmas celebrations.
The Somali government has announced that due to the reason all Somalis are Muslims, the need to celebrate a non-Muslim occasion is out of the question.
“We warn against celebration of Christmas, which is only for Christians,” Sheikh Mohamed Kheyrow, director of Somalia’s ministry of religion, said on state radio. “This is a matter of faith. The Christmas holiday and its drum beatings have nothing to with Islam.”
“Christmas will not be celebrated in Somalia for two reasons; all Somalis are Muslims and there is no Christian community here. The other reason is for security,” Abdifatah Halane, spokesman for Mogadishu mayor, said. “Christmas is for Christians. Not for Muslims.”
In Syria and Iraq, ISIS is expanding its vicious network into Africa, Asia and Middle East. A number of radical organizations have pledged allegiance to the organization since it announced the formation of self-proclaimed caliphate in the Levant. However, not all of them have received the same sort of reception from ISIS in return. The likes of Taliban renegades and now al-Shabaab opponents in Somalia are some of the groups that might receive a strong and encouraging response from ISIS.
The presence of al-Qaeda ally al-Shabaab is quite old and strong in Somalia and the radical group has already issued threats and warnings to whoever pledges allegiance to ISIS. Therefore, its expansion in Somalia in the presence of al-Shabaab, who took over the control of country’s capital in 2011, is very far-fetched.
The number of individuals who have announced their alliance to Islamic State are very few and it is not that they have done so on their own. Islamic State is very strategically targeting Somalia for two reasons, one that the writ of the state in the country is very feeble and second that it is a gateway to Kenya, one of the targets of ISIS.
“Establishing a caliphate in Somalia will not only benefit you, but it will benefit the Muslims in Somalia and in East Africa,” a young man said in English in a video named “From the Land of Ash-Sham to the Mujahideen of Somalia” released by Islamic State, inviting Somalis to join ISIS-claimed caliphate.
A Muslim cleric Abdiqadir Mumin who is based in Puntland region has pledge alliance to Islamic state. Puntland region is not threatened by al-Shabaab, therefore, Mumin does not have any threats to his life in that area but if he plans to penetrate into the heart of Somalia to get to Kenya, a local gang fight may initiate.
Brunei government has also banned the Christmas celebrations for two reasons, one is that Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is attempting to introduce Islamic Sharia laws to the country and the ban is one of the steps toward his goal, and the Islamic State presence and its threats are the second reason for the ban.