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.
Harun MarufMatthew Hilburn
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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

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.!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid