News / Africa

    Survey Shows Somalis Have Mostly Shared Vision for Future

    A fruit seller looks across as a Somali government soldier stands guard in Afgoye, west of the capital Mogadishu, in Somalia on June 7. A recent survey reveals widespread agreement on many key provisions of the draft constitution.A fruit seller looks across as a Somali government soldier stands guard in Afgoye, west of the capital Mogadishu, in Somalia on June 7. A recent survey reveals widespread agreement on many key provisions of the draft constitution.
    x
    A fruit seller looks across as a Somali government soldier stands guard in Afgoye, west of the capital Mogadishu, in Somalia on June 7. A recent survey reveals widespread agreement on many key provisions of the draft constitution.
    A fruit seller looks across as a Somali government soldier stands guard in Afgoye, west of the capital Mogadishu, in Somalia on June 7. A recent survey reveals widespread agreement on many key provisions of the draft constitution.
    A new Voice of America Somali Service survey reveals many Somalis share similar opinions on key issues regarding the draft constitution that is scheduled to become a provisional ruling document in July.
     
    The survey was part of a larger program to engage Somalis around the world in a discussion of the kind of government they want after more than two decades of strife have decimated national institutions.

    According to Jibril Mohamed, the head of the Somali-focused non-governmental organization, SomaliCAN, the survey  provided a much needed platform for Somalis to discuss issues and voice their concerns. Furthermore, it allowed the general population to interact with those drafting the constitution.

    VOA's Somali Service, using open source software from Google Ideas, polled more than 3,000 Somalis over three months. It was conducted in three parts and polled Somalis around the country and in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

    Sharia Law

    In a country torn by conflict over the past 20 years, the one thing Somalis surveyed agreed with most strongly was that “Sharia is the foundation of Somalia and should be applied as a civil and criminal code throughout Somalia.”

    Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed agreed strongly, with another six percent agreeing. Support for Sharia was strong among men and women, across age groups and geographic location.
    sharia law
    According to Abdulwahid Qalinle, director of the Islamic Law & Human Rights Project at the University of Minnesota Law School, there are two drivers of this overwhelming support for Sharia Law.

    “Since the collapse in 1991, Somalia has undergone major Islamization,” he said. “People have become much more religious, and that can be explained by the collapse of law and order. During the times of crisis people seek refuge in faith. Many people relied upon faith to go through the catastrophic difficulties of the last 20 years.”

    Qalinle also said Islamic groups did a good job filling voids in social programs, particularly education, citing that many Islamic schools were opened over the past 20 years.

    He said that religious movements have a free hand to propagate their message and that in Somalia today there is “no organized secular discourse.”

    “There’s nothing countering the Islamic movement, which dominated the public discourse, education and public service over the past 20 years,” he said. “People of all ages are flocking to the mosque, and Islam is more active in the central lives of Somalis.”

    The current government appears to support the opinions expressed in this provision. Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali told the VOA Somali Service that it is natural that people responded in this way saying, “We are 100 percent Muslims and we believe the new constitution should be Sharia compliant, not necessarily Sharia itself,” he said.

    However, according to Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, editor of the Somali focused HiiraanOnline, there are some contradictions in the draft that still need further discussion and clarification. Specifically, the lack of provision providing for capital punishment and the acknowledgement that women should have a role in the political sphere do not mesh with the tenets of Sharia, he said.

    Role of women

    But contrary to what a strict reading of Sharia would say about the role of women in politics, most Somalis think women should be involved in the political process. According to the survey, 77 percent of women agree while only 58 percent of men do.

    referendum That such a majority of Somalis surveyed believe in some role for women in politics is particularly noteworthy given that the survey interviewed roughly three times more men than women. The dominance of men, said Mohamed, is something to be expected in Somalia where the men tend to be more politically active.

    In a recent interview with the Somali Service, Prime Minister Ali was very matter of fact in acknowledging the role of women. 

    “What prevents them from becoming head of state? Women [make up more than 50 percent of the Somali population] and they deserve better treatment than we have been according to them in the last few years,” he said. “We believe they are a big component of the labor force of Somalia and they deserve to be part of all the branches of government. At the same time, there is nothing that denies them from becoming leaders. There are so many Muslim countries in the world where women have been leaders - Bangladesh, Pakistan," said Ali.

    Mr. Ali’s sentiments were echoed by Maryam Qasim, leader of the progressive Tayo Party.

    “For instance, that women can participate in all elected and appointed positions, I see that as a positive step,” she said. “Although a Somali woman even doesn’t want to be president at this time, but to state that they can become one is important.”

    Still, over a third of those surveyed oppose any role for women in politics.

    “It is something people are divided on,” added Qalinle, who pointed out that this question remains an ongoing debate in many Muslim countries.

    Citizenship

    In the survey, Somalis were in agreement about whether a person born outside Somalia to either a Somali mother or father should be considered citizens, with 78 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing.  But the older those surveyed were, the more support for broad citizenship eligibility declined.

    There was more division about whether someone who has been a lawful resident for the past five years should be considered a citizen, with 61 percent of those surveyed disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.

    In a recent interview with VOA’s Somali Service, Federal and Constitution Minister Abdirahman Hosh Jibril said the issue of citizenship was being deferred for now.

    “Just like any country in the world, immigration and citizenship issues will be administered by the parliament through special legislation,” he said. “[Citizenship] is one of the issues that people were concerned about and complained about on VOA and other places … the constitution belongs to the Somali people, therefore we do not want to put forward an idea they don’t agree with.”

    Future

    On July 10, 825 members selected from traditional elders, intellectual and civil society groups plan to adopt a provisional constitution. The vast majority of Somalis surveyed - 61 percent - said it should be approved through a national referendum, but security concerns and lack of logistical capacity make that impossible now.

    Men between the ages of 35 and 44 had less support for a referendum, possibly because they are likely “unfamiliar with a constitutional process” and “unfamiliar with how the government works,” said Qalinle.
    referendum
    “They have grown in an era where the role of elders was central to Somali life,” he said.
    What kind of government will emerge once a constitution is in place remains to be seen.  According to the survey, 83 percent supported a strong central government as opposed to 13 percent who wanted a weak central government.

    However, there was discrepancy between those polled in Mogadishu, where 92 percent favored a strong central government compared to 77 percent in Puntland and 83 percent in Somaliland.

    While there is strong support for a robust central government, the survey indicates many respondents would like to see it balanced with stronger regional government.

    Half of those surveyed in Somaliland disagreed with the notion that regional states should be able to make their own constitutions. In Puntland, over 62 percent agreed with the idea. In Mogadishu, there was a nearly even split between those who agreed and those who disagreed.

    While a lot remains to be determined, the draft constitution and the subsequent discussion sparked by the survey, has provided an initial framework for a country lacking basic civic structures for so long.

    “The constitution-making process is not just about writing down articles by lawyers. It is a discussion and dialogue that, once agreed, turns into a social contract,” said Jibril. “The work on the constitution brought people and regions closer to each other.”

    Data analysis by Dino Beslagic

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: runle from: usa
    June 21, 2012 8:34 PM
    no one will take you serious filtering people's responses.You show what you want just like this article.

    by: gedi from: usa
    June 21, 2012 4:50 PM
    What a nonesense in putting somaliland as if they part of it.Every thing written by somali reflects his alliances in clan/fundamentalism/region.That's why most somalis won't take at heart.It's meant for foreigners who don't know better.
    In Response

    by: Samatar from: U.S.A
    June 22, 2012 7:32 PM
    Wait a minute mr gedi, it isn't nonsense that somaliland (North Somalia) is part of the story, Somaliland is part of Somalia and will be part of Somali Republic, no argument about and it's not in the topic whather it's or it isn't. This survey represents the views of the citizens of Somalia, from north to South, East to West. So history is known whether it's Somalis or forreigners, so read and research the facts before calling the article a nonsense.!

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora