Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Somali Website's Cyber War

Hargeysa (HAN) July 26, 2006 - Freedom of expression is one of the core units of human rights, and every author is of course entitled to his or her own opinion. The pillars of good journalism: thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, and transparency (1) don’t seem to have any relevance in many Somali websites.

the readers’ attention glued to each page as they read it. Unfortunately, some Somali websites and their Siadist writers’ never-ending propaganda, rehashes of stale lies, have given journalism a new meaning. Siadist is derived from the name of the former dictator that ruled Somalia, Mr. Siad Barre. So why blame the Somali websites? Siadists and some Somali websites have violated the ethics of journalism. The reader should be aware of the relationship between these websites and Siadists. The Siadists use the websites in question as a medium to spread their propaganda.

The challenge is to explain how these websites and the Siadists writers defeat their objectives. Now, can this be achieved without violating the pillars of good journalism? This is a true test where one needs to be explicit and direct to the point.

These websites share, passionately, their hidden cyber war against Somaliland. They have become a launch pad for a propaganda war, a lure for Siadist writers whose “articles” fail to be objective. Some sites try to make their cyber war less noticeable. To cover-up of their agenda, which is far from hidden, they often publish articles that focus only on specific issues about Somaliland, for example, non-political. In other words, articles of historical facts that may shed some light on Somaliland’s legitimate grievances about its failed marriage with Somalia are often censored. Censorship without cause! Will truth remain forever obscured?

Meanwhile, a typical Siadist’s article, for the satisfaction of the usual audience may contain the following lyrics: “Secessionist, Isaaqland, unity, Somaliland cannot survive on its own, the so called-Somaliland and Somaliland is a tribal state.” This is music to their ears. The rest of the article, usually, describes the author’s emotions--a river of tears. What is the purpose of these “articles”? More important, what is the purpose of publishing them? If anything, these “articles” have made some Somali websites the most boring sites, a playground for aimless writer wannabes and plagiarists.

Siadists seem oblivious to the reality on the ground. They are satisfied with their own “virtues” and trapped inside unbreakable eggshell of hate, or so it seems. Some of their arguments include Somaliland being a tribal state. The question is: How does one determine if a country in Africa is a tribal estate? Does one require using the infamous (4.5) formula, which divided Somalia into 4 major tribes and (0.5) “unknown” tribes, as the reference guide? Maybe we should use their (4.5) formula as a yardstick.

This is the first causality of freedom of expression in many Somali websites. Does bad journalism pay off? Of course not! Then the Siadists have taught us how not to write good journalism. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. How about unlimited freedom of expression? When freedom of expression is abused and misused, it is one of the most dangerous rights. To express one’s discontent with the status quo of Somaliland’s political system and the desire to change it is perfectly fine. But why the Siadists fail to get their point across, without resorting to nonsense, remains a mystery. Is this their inability to distinguish criticism from hate?

Among their topics, the following passage from one of the Siadist’s article,” Why Is Somaliland Not Recognized?” recently posted in many Somali sites is a case in point and I quote the author (the cyber militant):” Somalilanders stay overseas, most of them living on the meager handouts from social security or food-stamps that are given to them in Western countries as political refugees from Somalia.” Are the proofreaders dead? Do these statements strike you as absurd? After this Siadist unleashed a barrage of insults and insane claims, even, hardworking Somaliland Diasporas couldn’t escape from his machetes. Was the author just merely babbling of his unconscious mind? Or was there more to his writings than meets the eye?Journalism is a profession, not a craft nor a hobby. With that in mind, skilled journalists do not come cheap, and a response to a Siadist’s article is a waste of one’s time. But can the Siadist slanders mistaken for ill-directed hospitality towards Somaliland? I don’t think so. Or should all critics of the northerners be tagged as anti-Somaliland? No way.

Somaliland is open to criticism. However, freedom of expression should not be confused with freedom to offend. Repeatedly, Siadists defeat the purpose of their “articles”. They often shoot themselves in the foot by making their articles not worthwhile reading due to lack of presenting an objective arguments in their writings. They seem to be a different kind of journalists. Cheap shot journalism! Too subjective, too emotional, and as boring as hell! They often shed more tears than thunder clouds could spill. That is more crocodile tears.

In addition, their criticisms are far from constructive, but rather destructive, if not outright hateful. Readers have a lot more respect for authors that remain objective--never let bias into their articles--while they make their point than the Siadist hate-mongers. Unfortunately, to the Siadists objective remains undefined. And if they think their negative attitudes might bring the Somali societies closer, in contrast, it has polarized the two communities. Is their approach ill advised and counter-productive? You bet.

The reader may ask: Does the author of this article suffer from selective amnesia? What about the Somaliland websites’ propaganda? Surely, pointing the finger at the Somali website alone is not fair either. Nor do I intend to offend the administrators of these sites by attaching negative connotations to their sites. After all, the core of my argument is about fair journalism. The absences of a moral core in journalism!

With that said, the Somaliland websites have done their share of the damage as well. They too should tone down their propaganda towards non-Somalilanders. But in all fairness to the Somaliland websites, although they often remain in hibernation mode, upon awakened they rarely publish a hateful propaganda articles that their counter parts, the Somali websites, decorate on their sites.

Unfortunately, some Somali websites are often mistaken for Xidigta October newspaper. They are the winners of the fabricated news Awards for 2005. Ever wondered if these websites were the ghost of Xidigta October?In 1988, at the height of the war between the disenfranchised Somalilanders and Siad Barre’s regime, the relentless loud thunders of the Somali air raids against Hargeisa (the capital of Somaliland) and elsewhere were reported by the Xidigta October as nothing more than the seasonal heavy rains pounding the north. There were no worries there. It was business as usual.

Oddly enough, a decade and a half later, land disputes which often result a shootout between individuals, or a handful of people in Hargeisa are misreported by some Somali sites as a war; of course between two militias, each of them led by a generic “warlord” with no name. Exciting news! Does a wishful thinking make war happen? In Hargeisa, even, a minor quarrel between two old ladies doesn’t pass unnoticed.

Whether some of these websites have mistaken, this time, the loud thunders of the rainy seasons in the north for heavy fights is to be seen. But their propaganda campaign is a constant reminder of the notorious Xidigta October newspaper.

Some readers, by default, would misinterpret the message of this article. As far as offending anyone, that was not my intention. Nor do I have personal vendetta against the editors of the Somali websites.

In addition, I don’t intend to cause a stirrup by opening old wounds and revisiting the darkest history of our society. A fair journalism is what the fuss is all about.

In the end, the cyber war of some of the Somali websites would eventually run its course. And as for the Siadists’ cheap propaganda: “Timirtii horeba dab loo waa.”

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