Somali radio stations halt music

Wed, 2010-04-14 06:04 by admin

By MOHAMMED IBRAHIM
Published: April 13, 2010

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — At least 14 radio stations here in the capital stopped broadcasting music on Tuesday, heeding an ultimatum by an Islamist insurgent group to stop playing songs or face “serious consequences.”

Presenters at Radio Shabelle, which stopped playing music on Tuesday under threat from Islamist insurgents.

The threat left radio stations scrambling to scrub even the briefest suggestion of music from their daily programming. “Bam! Bam! Bam!” — the sound of gunshots that Somalis in Mogadishu have grown accustomed to hearing — was played by Radio Shabelle on its news broadcast to replace the music it usually uses to introduce the segment.

Similarly odd sounds — like the roar of an engine, a car horn, animal noises and the sound of water flowing — were used to introduce programs on some of the other radio stations that stopped playing music.

“We have replaced the music of the early morning program with the sound of the rooster, replaced the news music with the sound of the firing bullet and the music of the night program with the sound of running horses,” said Osman Abdullahi Gure, the director of Radio Shabelle radio and television, one of the most influential stations in Mogadishu.

“It was really a crush,” he said. “We haven’t had time to replace all the programs at one time; instead, we have chosen these sounds.”

The insurgent group, Hizbul Islam, issued its ultimatum 10 days ago and set Tuesday as the deadline to comply, saying that music was “un-Islamic.” In other parts of the country, insurgents have taken over or shut down some radio stations. Last week, the Shabab, the country’s most powerful insurgent group, said it was banning foreign programs like those broadcast by the BBC and Voice of America, calling them Western propaganda that violated Islam. …

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