Somalia: Al-Shabab 'to stop caning civilians'

Al-Shabab militiamen on patrol

Hardline Islamist group al-Shabab could be about to stop caning civilians as punishment, if reports from Somalia are correct.

Senior figure Fuad Mohamed Shongole, is quoted by the Hiiraan news site as saying it will instead teach people in areas it controls about Islam. He apparently made the remarks at a meeting with clan elders in the southern region of Lower Shabeelle. "We have decided to stop caning people. We will instead teach them about the religion. People will outshine us once they taste the sweetness of the religion," the Canadian-based website, which has reporters in Somalia, quoted him as saying.

A 2011 US State Department report highlighted al-Shabab's use of punishments such as caning and beating for perceived transgressions of Islamic law. According to the US-based campaign group Human Rights Watch, al-Shabab "routinely mistreats persons in areas under its control". It adds: "Women are caned or arbitrarily detained for greeting men, including relatives, in public."

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