The following is a radio broadcast that was aired by Andalus Radio ( Al Shabab Radio)
A radio station run by Somalia’s Al-Shabaab Islamist group has awarded weapons to children who won a Koran-reciting competition.
Andulus radio, based near Mogadishu, gave the group which won first prize in the Ramadan contest an AK-47 rifle and the equivalent of $700.
The second prize-winners received an AK-47 and $500, while the third prize was two hand grenades and $400.
Al-Shabaab, linked to al-Qaeda, controls much of southern and central Somalia. It recently withdrew from the capital, Mogadishu, where the UN-backed government is in charge.
Four children, aged 10-17, were chosen to represent each district in the competition held during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which ended in August.
“Children should use one hand for education and the other for a gun to defend Islam,” senior Al-Shabaab official Mukhtar Robow told the prize-giving ceremony in Elasha, 20km from Mogadishu.
The children were also given religious books. In previous years, when the competition was organised in the southern port of Kismayo, the first prize included an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade launcher).
Somalia is currently suffering from a severe drought, which has been declared a famine in some areas run by al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab is restricting access to many international aid groups, saying they have a political agenda and are exaggerating the scale of the drought.
The Chairman of SYAO Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Ali has condemned what he terms as an illegal and non-ethical ways of educating the young children in Somali.
He has categorically differed with the Al Shabaab militia in entertaining young children to take up the gun instead of giving them a chance to education that would be beneficial to their lives.
He sighted for instance how a young boy can be cajoled to acts of violence if given the opportunity to own a gun.
SYAO is trying to educate the youth and young children in particular on the benefits of getting proper education with a better educational platform based on the true and ethical approach.
W”e cannot keep on sitting and seeing our young being misguided by the ideological beliefs of the Al Shabab meaning the time has come for us to change our children’s kind of thinking.
I appeal to all the interested partners to come and condemned this vices being introduced to our children, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Ali said.
The Al Shabab militia believes that the kind of education best suitable to the young is to hold a gun on one side and the Koran on the other side which cannot work.
He strongly condemns the cowardly act and he believes as long as SYAO is still there to protect the youth, this kind of education system will be unsuccessful.