17 veiled women arrested
27/03/2004 20:51 - (SA)
Mogadishu - At least 17 women have been arrested in southern Somalia's Middle Shabbelle region for ignoring a decree banning women from wearing veils, a spokesperson for the the area's administration said on Saturday.
"Seventeen women have been arrested for defying a decree that banned women from wearing the Muslim veil," spokesperson for the region, controlled by warlord Mohamed Omar Habeb, said on condition of anonymity.
Independent sources in Jowhar, 90km north of the capital Mogadishu, confirmed the arrests.
Habeb banned the Islamic veils on Thursday in a bid to foil male would-be attackers who could be disguised as women.
He has also banned vehicles with tinted windows from operating in his fiefdom, his spokesperson said.
"Any vehicle with tinted glasses will be impounded from Monday. This is a security threat that can undermine peace in Jowhar and neighbouring areas," he added.
In his decree last week, Habeb pointed out that he was a devoted Muslim but was compelled to act to avoid bloodshed by religious extremists, such as those who allegedly killed a Kenyan aid worker in the self-declared republic of Somaliland this month.
The decree is the first of its kind since Somalia was founded in 1960.
The predominantly Islamic country has lacked an effective government since the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, descending into armed clan-based conflicts and widespread anarchy.
Edited by Trisha Shannon