Phew! Good riddance! The nightmare is over.
Yes, I mean the Union of Islamic Courts, UIC. They had their day in the sun and they blew it.
They had the support of all Somali people when they stormed to power, routed the notorious warlords, restored peace in Mogadishu, opened the airports and seaports, started addressing looted property issues and began looking like a wise authority.
But instead of capitalising on the people’s genuine support and willingness to give in and give up everything, they became power lusty, belligerent and fatwa-crazy. Instead of building bridges with the community, improving services, opening hospitals, winning the trust of international organisations and NGO’s to help them with projects to generate employment, they burned all bridges.
They alienated the youth by banning all types of entertainment, segregated women and deprived tens of thousands of families from their only livelihood by banning khat without bringing an alternative source of income. They even embittered traditional Islamic scholars with their characteristic Wahhabi style of self-righteousness and condescending attitude to mainstream Islam.
Not only did they become more like warlords than the ones they had defeated, but they emblazoned their belligerency with Islam and brandished the sword of Jihad, thus projecting themselves in the model of Taliban and regurgitating the tired jihadist rhetoric of al-Qaida. They mistook their easy ride to power for being an unstoppable revolution and started stirring instability in the peaceful Republic of Somaliland by branding the leadership of that democratic country as an infidel and threatening to bring Somaliland under their Wahhabi cloak.
Just like they introduced a strange school of Islam to Somalia, they also imported the scary phenomenon of suicide bombers in an attempt to assassinate the leadership of the Transitional Federal Government, TFG, in Baidoa. They also stonewalled the peace talks counting on the support of unsuspecting Arabs and they sent their die-hard agents to Puntland to wreck havoc in that peaceful and self-ruling state.
In a gross miscalculation of their military power and world geopolitics, the Islamists have used hostile language against neighbouring countries, the United States and the Judeo-Christian world. By reviving the Somali irredentist policies, of reunifying all Somali people in the Horn of Africa to create greater Somalia, they reminded Ethiopia and Kenya of the era of wars and instability they had with the successive Somali governments over their claim for the Somali regions within their respective countries.
Finally they committed their last blunder when they gave an ultimatum to Ethiopia to withdraw their TFG-supporting contingents from Somalia within seven days or face jihad. Their Security Chief Colonel Yusuf Indha Adde, even made the gaffe of the century by admitting that he was one of the people who dragged the bodies of the dead American soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993 and that he was ready to do it again.
But as is often the case with all self-aggrandising megalomaniacs, they fizzled into thin air when the hour of truth has arrived and all their bravado had ended into a farcical denouement. While they threw the young children they recruited in the name of jihad into the fray, the Islamist leadership took flight liked scared chickens.
None of them was reported to have died heroically fighting at the front. They just burst like a bubble. Even their prolific website qaadisiya.com fell silent. Although its editors have spewed enough hatred against the West and sang daily hymns for the September 11 suicide bombers and all jihadist martyrs of the world, they couldn’t dare to sign off the last chapter of their fantasy medieval caliphate.
Now, it is time for the people of Mogadishu to reclaim their freedoms and their true religion. Time to read the Koran with piety and not with politics; time to perform Dhikr in the Sufi Qadiriya style; time to dance in weddings and listen to the music of our late melody queen Magool, which the Islamists wanted to burn.
It is time to throw away the Arab head rags; the sign of the shabby dressed Islamists, and time to be proud of our native names, cleansing our ears of the alien Arab nom de guerres of the Islamists.
It is time to let our women come out to the sunshine and swim with their children at the Lido beach; time to shave the beards, watch cinemas and let our youth revel, sing, dance and ring in the New Year with Mohammed Suleiman’s eternal lyrics “ … kii noo hagaagee, noqo loo hanweynyahay.” (… Be a year that brings us good fortune and high expectations.” Amen.