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Sharia vs. futbol

Posted by Richard on June 11, 2006

The news out of Somalia this past week was certainly troubling:

Overlooked in light of burying Zarqawi under his safe-house and under-reported earlier in the week, Islamists now control the Somalian capital of Mogadishu and thus for all intents and purposes, the country:

After months of fierce fighting, Islamic militias declared Monday that they had taken control of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, defeating the warlords widely believed to be backed by the United States and raising questions about whether the country would head down an extremist path.

What this means for the future of Al Qaeda terrorism isn’t wholly clear, but it can’t be good:

Islamists who took control of Somalia’s anarchic capital this week declared war on "infidels" yesterday and warned that any American intervention in Mogadishu would be "disastrous."

Lots of smart people have taken part in interesting discussions of what this means and what to do about it. The situation didn’t look good, and our alternatives didn’t sound good.

But I was cheered by a report that not everyone in Mogadishu is ready to accept a 7th century lifestyle and submit to Sharia law — not while World Cup games are available via satellite:

Residents say Islamist militiamen have shot in the air to disperse hundreds of Somalis protesting against moves by sharia courts to stop them watching the soccer World Cup in the capital, Mogadishu.

The soccer tournament had drawn huge crowds to TV screens set up under trees and iron-sheeted shacks.

It provided some escape from the tension that has gripped Mogadishu since Islamists seized control from an alliance of warlords on Monday (local time).

Witnesses say scores of young men set fire to tyres late last night in protests that carried on into the early hours of today, after Islamist gunmen pulled the plug on makeshift cinemas airing the World Cup.

Some residents fear the latest move to outlaw foreign entertainment is proof the Islamists want to create a Muslim state, following their victory against a self-styled anti-terrorism coalition of secular warlords, believed to be backed by the US.

The Islamic courts have been popular for restoring a semblance of order in parts of the anarchic city, which is carved into fiefdoms by warlords who ousted military ruler Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

But the World Cup ban has stirred resentment among locals, already weary of the fighting in Mogadishu that has killed 350 people in three months.

This story got me thinking. Maybe all the geopolitical geeks are over-thinking this thing. I think the British should accept responsibility for saving Somalia from the Islamists, and I think they can do it with a fairly modest investment. Send in a few C-130s full of giant plasma TVs and satellite dishes, along with about a thousand British soccer hooligans and the supplies needed to support them (mostly bangers and beer). I’ll bet they kick Islamist ass from one end of Mogadishu to the other.

The local soccer fans will be so grateful for the plasma TVs and the chance to watch the World Cup games, they’ll root for the Brits, so the soccer hooligans will decide they’re all right. Just airlift them out of there before the beer’s all gone.

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