Local Event Sports Association

Somali Militants Assert Control by Banning Soccer

By James M. Dorsey On January - 14 - 2011

Somali Islamist militants this week imposed their puritan norms in areas over which they have recently gained control by outlawing the playing of soccer or watching the game on television.

The ban is reminiscent of a similar edict issued by Al Shabab militants on the eve of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Somali news reports say the most recent ban was issued in the town of Afgooye, 30 kilometers northwest of the capital Mogadishu. Al Shabab, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia that is believed to have incorporated a number of non-Somali militants in its leadership, gained control of Afgooye last month as a result of a merger with its rival, Hizbul Islam.

The ban on soccer coupled with strict dress codes for both men and women is persuading Afgooye residents in large numbers to flee to government-controlled areas of Mogadishu. 

Al Shabab has threatened to deal harshly with those who fail to abide by the new edicts.

Soccer has become a major battleground between Somali militants, supporters of a fiercely puritan interpretation of Islam that makes Saudi Ara...

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