Somali elders' council boss in Isiolo faces probe over hate speech

Somali Council of Elders Chairman Shariff Abdullahi

Somali Council of Elders Chairman Shariff Abdullahi who has been summoned by police over remarks allegedly depicting non-Muslims living in Isiolo in bad light.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

Police in Isiolo have launched investigations into alleged inflammatory remarks made by the Somali Council of Elders Chairman Shariff Abdullahi which depicted non-Muslim communities living in the county in bad light.

Isiolo County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding said the elder has been summoned to appear before the County Criminal Investigations office over ethnic and religious profiling and will be arrested if he fails to present himself.

“It is sad that an elder would make such utterances that are likely to disrupt the peace and tranquillity that our county has been enjoying. We will not entertain such remarks,” Mr Omoding said.

The administrator warned of stern action against any elder or leader who incites one community against another on the basis of tribe or religion.

Monitor leaders’ utterances

He said the security team was on high alert to tame the practice, especially during the electioneering period, by tracking politicians’ utterances during public meetings and on social media platforms.

“We are liaising with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and detectives to monitor leaders’ utterances, which could fuel divisions and fights, for legal action,” he said, adding that no one will be spared regardless of their positions.

The elder’s utterances have caused mixed reactions among county residents with the majority of them including clerics demanding an apology.

Isiolo Interfaith Network Chairman Ahmed Sett earlier said elders and politicians should shun using religion to advance their agenda, saying this will polarise the county.

“All religions must be respected and we should not use one’s faith to campaign as it could divide our people,” Mr Sett said while asking residents to remain united.

Eject Abdullahi

Mr Omoding urged the Somali Council of Elders to eject Mr Abdullahi from his position or they be treated as having been in agreement with his remarks.

“They should remove him from that position else we will take it that they are supporting his remarks,” a tough-talking Mr Omoding said.

A section of Somali elders on Sunday distanced themselves from Mr Abdullahi’s utterances, saying he spoke on his own behalf and not on behalf of the community and he should carry his own cross.

“Elders should not misuse their positions to tarnish the name of other tribes. Anyone liable for hate speech should carry their own cross,” Somali’s Isaq and Harti Chairman Mohammed Shafi said.


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