No ‘Somali Taliban’
Did anyone see the Channel 4 documentary on the Islamists’ takeover of southern Somalia yesterday evening (Unreported World, 7:30pm)? The documentary made repeated comparisons to the Taliban and alleged that the Islamic Courts Union was allowing al-Qa’ida fugitives to settle in the country.
What I saw gave the lie to any suggestion of “Somali Taliban”, however: the fact that schools were being set up, with a curriculum partly borrowed from Kenya and partly from the Gulf region, with lots of smiling girls in blue hijabs and children being sent from, among other places, Streatham and Leicester. The boy from Streatham said he preferred Mogadishu, which does not surprise me - Streatham’s a dump. In the streets, there were no burqas to be seen (and if there were, I’m sure the programme would have showed them) - a few niqabs, but most of the women wore brightly-coloured locally-styled head-wraps.
The fact of British Somalis being sent for education here is completely unlike anything we saw under the Taliban. There, the Taliban promised for years that they would set up some great Islamic education system when the country was secure, while its supporters credited it with making the country safe (something even the group’s western critics admitted, although people certainly were not safe from the Taliban itself). We cannot defend any excess the ICU may be indulging in, but they are not the Taliban and never will be.
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