“They have basically banned everything that is fun, so we feel increasingly bored.”
There Is No Fun In Islam* Alert from Somalia: “Somalia Islamist group bans video games,” by Mustafa Haji Abdinur for AFP, January 28:
MOGADISHU — Somalia’s Islamist insurgents on Thursday banned video games, one of the last forms of entertainment left for local youth, arguing they were destroying the country’s social fabric.
The Hezb al-Islam group, currently engaged in a deadly insurgency against the internationally-backed federal government, made the announcement in a statement circulated in the areas it controls.
“Starting two days after this statement’s date of issue, all video game playing centres in the areas under Hezb al-Islam control should be closed and playing video games will be prohibited,” it said.
“Video games are designed in such a way that they destroy our social traditions and for that reason, anybody found ignoring this order will be punished and equipment will be confiscated,” it said.
It was signed by Sheikh Mohamed Omar, head of propaganda for Hezb al-Islam, an insurgent group headed by influential cleric Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and which controls densely-populated areas in and around Mogadishu….
“Hezb al-Islam officials ordered us to close our video game centres so today we’re closed. We don’t have a choice,” said Ali Hidig, a game centre owner in Elashabiyaha, a village hosting refugees on the outskirts of Mogadishu.
“Young boys used to like coming here for entertainment after school but it looks like this is now a thing of the past,” he told AFP.
The disappointment was deep among teenage boys in the area, where movies and sports are also banned.
“We used to watch movies. They were banned. Now the PlayStations we had fun with are also banned. This country is not for young people like me,” said Abdirahman Hirsi, a 19-year-old from Lafole town.
“They have basically banned everything that is fun, so we feel increasingly bored,” said another boy.
Abdi Moge, an older resident in the village, argued that there were few alternatives to occupy young people other than joining an armed group.
“Who knows what else the children are going to do now. It’s not as if there was proper education for them. The more they are prevented from playing, the more likely they are to join the fighting,” he said.
Hezb al-Islam and their insurgency comrades from the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab group are implementing a very strict form of Sharia (Islamic law) in the areas they control.
The Hezb al-Islam statement did not make clear what forms of punishment would be reserved for diehard gamers caught flouting the ban.
However, in recent months across Somalia, people found dancing to traditional songs have been flogged, men guilty of trimming their beards arrested and youth playing football in shorts reprimanded by religious police units.
Satellite television is also banned in many areas and there are no cinemas left in central and southern Somalia, which are under Islamist control….
* The Ayatollah Khomeini said that.