The Press Release Wars

With the world constantly searching for news regarding the situation in Somalia and the international Media still ravenously rummaging for stories regarding the current food crisis, it seems that both the African Union forces and the Islamists are conscientiously attempting to sway public opinion onto their sides respectively. I have been receiving written statements from AMISOM headquarters for quite some time but Al-Shabaab, who are somewhat elusive when it comes to international media, have begun dishing out some well-written press releases.

As the battles in Mogadishu continue to escalate, as predicted, during this Holy month of Ramadan, both Al-Shabaab and AMISOM forces have their own narrative of the events that have transpired over the last four days of fighting. Local Media here in Mogadishu has reported that several Ugandan soldiers and up to 3 unidentified ‘white’ foreigners were killed during yesterday’s suicide attack on an AU base in Wardhiigley by the Islamists. Independent observers and analysts in Mogadishu have also corroborated the findings of the media. But what did the warring parties have to say?

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Al-Shabab: Christian Organisations Closed

In a press release distributed to the media today, Al—Shabaab, the Islamist force controlling much of Southern Somalia, have closed down at least three organisations working inside the country, stating that they were ‘found to be actively propagating Christianity in this Muslim country’ and that ‘the propagation of the Christian faith is unacceptable in Islam as well as in the Muslim society.’ The press release stated that:

  • The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) was started by the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a way to follow Christ’s example.
  • Diakonia is an organization founded in 1966 by five Swedish churches and the members of these congregations form Diakonia’s support base. The primary goal of this organization is to spread the Christian faith.
  • World Vision is a Christian organization motivated by what they call ‘their faith in Jesus Christ’ and dedicated to spreading the message of Christianity to the children, families, and the communities they work with.

I checked up these claims and looked up the websites of the organisations and here is what I found:

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