Governor defends statement criticizing cleric's lack of role in Al-Shabaab war

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GALKAYO, Puntland - A top Puntland official has vehemently defended his remarks criticizing the role of clerics in the fight against Al-Shabaab, even as security forces up to the war on Al-Shabaab militants who have been wreaking havoc in Somalia for over 10 years.

Mudug Governor Abdiladif Muse Nur urged clerics to take a lead role in fighting against the extremist ideologies especially in mosques through the teaching of the true meaning of Islamic religion and raise awareness about terrorism. 

Speaking in Galkayo following the burial of top Somali army officers killed in a suicide attack, the governor said religious leaders should support the fight against Al-Shabaab in a bid for a fruitful struggle. Nur's predecessor was killed in a blast last May.

"Terrorists misinterpret religion". Mr. Nur emphasized that Friday's speech, which often focused on the week's major issues in the area shifted to other social topics, underlining they communicated to clerics.

“They are sitting in mosques, and when people are being killed, they are giving speeches child caring, and we are outside the mosques; for 12 years I have not prayed in a mosque in Somalia. I’ll close the mosques or the clerics will join us in the fight against Al-Shabaab," he said.

According to the governor, the caring of children sermon came days after a suicide bombing by al-Shabaab in south Galkayo killed dozens of officials, including Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.

The Nairobi-based cleric, Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Umal, who reacted to Governor Abdilatif's remarks, said he was "shocked by the official's remarks."

After making this statement and drew condemnations, the governor held a press conference and announced that he repented sincerely to Allah, acknowledging the mistakes in his speech on the Al-Shabaab war.

Somalis do not have the courage to protest the actions of Al-Shabaab and ISIS militants and are believed to be refraining from talking about fears of being targeted. This is part of the growing calls for the fight against al-Shabaab as military tactics appear not weakened the group.

Religious leaders in Somalia are often accused of doing little to quell the rising insurgency which has leftover 5,000 people dead. The most affected are civilians, members of security forces, and the top government officials across East Africa, especially in Somalia and Kenya.

GAROWE ONLIEN

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