Somali children win guns and grenades for Qur’an recital
The actual award ceremony…
An Islamist-backed radio station in Somalia has awarded assault rifles and hand grenades to the winners of a children’s Qur’an recital competition.
Andalus radio, which is run by al-Shabaab militia, said on Monday that the first prize was an AK-47 and £450. The runner-up received an AK-47 and £320, while the child who came third received two F1 hand grenades and £250. The three children also received religious books.
Al-Shabaab controls much of southern Somalia and is trying to overthrow the transitional government in Mogadishu. Designated a terrorist organisation by several western governments, the group has links to al-Qaida and practises an extreme version of Islam.
In certain areas al-Shabaab leaders have banned musical ringtones, films, football broadcasts, dancing at weddings and even shop signs written in English or Somali, rather than Arabic. Punishments include double amputations and stonings. The rebels have also systematically recruited children under 15 to fight for them, according to Amnesty International.
The Qur’an recital contest has been running for three years and takes place after Ramadan. The two previous award ceremonies have occurred in Kismayo, an al-Shabaab stronghold on the far southern coast. In 2009, prizes included hand grenades, anti-tank mines and an AK-47. The winners of that contest were between 17 and 20 years old.