Residents of a southern Somalia town who do not pray five times a day will be beheaded, an official said Wednesday, adding the edict will be implemented in three days.
Shops, tea houses and other public places in Bulo Burto, about 124 miles northeast of the capital, Mogadishu, should be closed during prayer time and no one should be on the streets, said Sheik Hussein Barre Rage, the chairman of the town's Islamic court. His court is part of a network backed by armed militiamen that has taken control of much of southern Somalia in recent months, bringing a strict interpretation of Islam that is alien to many Somalis.
Those who do not follow the prayer edict after three days have elapsed, "will definitely be beheaded according to Islamic law," Rage told The Associated Press by phone. "As Muslims we should practice Islam fully, not in part, and that is what our religion enjoins us to do."
He said the edict, which covered only Bulo Burto, was being announced over loudspeakers throughout the town.
Somalia's Islamic courts have made varying interpretations of Koranic law, some applying a more strict and radical version of Islam than others. Some of the courts have introduced public executions, floggings of convicts, bans on women swimming in Mogadishu's public beaches and on the sale and chewing of khat, a leafy stimulant consumed across the Horn of Africa and in the Middle East.
After complaints about the lack of consistency from residents in the capital, Mogadishu, the umbrella Council of Islamic Courts set up an appeals court with better educated judges in October.