As of this week, all but two of Somalia’s radio stations have been ordered to stop playing music. Music. You know, something that many might say is a fairly essential part of a successful radio station. The rationale (if you can call it that) behind the decision by the Islamist militants that control large parts of the country is that music is un-Islamic.
Despite the fact that many citizens and stations disagree, they have been forced to comply with the ban for fear of their lives. The stations report losing listeners and advertising revenue as a result of the banning and it would not be a surprise to see some of them being forced to shut as a result. This is especially so because a Kenya based UN-run station is still able to transmit into Somalia and play whatever pop ditty it wishes. It is certain to have a wave of new listeners as people grow bored of hearing talking and noises such as gunfire, vehicles and birds, which have been brought in to use instead of jingles. No doubt, Somalia has certainly had its fair share of ‘4th moments’ lately so this development isn’t particularly suprising but it still signals a further descent down a worrying path of extremism in an already chaotic country.