Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Somali Militants Winning Fans With Ban On World Cup Viewing

Somali militants have threatened football fans they will be publicly flogged - or worse - if they are caught watching the World Cup on TV.  Gangs of Islamists are reported to be patrolling the areas they control looking for people watching games.

Dedicated fans have been forced to watch matches in secret, or in the few areas controlled by government forces.  Militants recently killed two people as they attacked a house where people were watching a game.  Militant group Hizbul-Islam also arrested 10 others at a house north-east of the capital Mogadishu where fans were watching the game between Argentina and Nigeria.

A spokesman for the group, Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Aros said the rest of Somalia should respect their ban on the World Cup.  "We are warning all the youth of Somalia not to dare watch these World Cup matches. It is a waste of money and time and they will not benefit anything or get any experience by watching mad men jumping up and down," he said. 

One Mogadishu football fan told the BBC, "I have one eye on the TV and the other on the door, and the sound turned down."  One broadcaster went so far as to move their operations inside the fortified airport to protect their equipment from attack during the tournament.

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