Africa

Somalia's government ban al-Shabab name from media

Al-Shabab fighters (file photo) Image copyright AP
Image caption Al-Shabab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, controls many rural parts of southern Somalia

The Somali government has told media houses to stop referring to militant group al-Shabab by their name.

They instead want the group to be called Ugus, an acronym for the Somali words meaning "the Group that Massacres the Somali People".

Al-Shabab responded by saying the Somali government should be referred to by the same acronym, Ugus.

In this case, Ugus means "the Group that Subjects the Somali People to Humiliation".

Al-Shabab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, controls many rural parts of southern Somalia.


African news at it happens: 4 May 2015


The head of Somalia's Intelligence and Security Services Gen Abdirahman Mohamud Turyare told journalists that al-Shabab, which means the youth in Arabic, was "a good name".

"We should not allow this good name to be dirtied. This enemy we are fighting is called Ugus."

Gen Turyare was speaking at the headquarters of information ministry in front of journalists and information ministry officials.

However, no mention was made of the punishment for anyone who flouted the ban.

The government-controlled Radio Mogadishu and SNTV have already been using the term for a while.

Ugus is an acronym for Ururka Gumaadka Ummadda Soomaaliyeed.


Analysis: Abdullahi Abdi, BBC News, Nairobi

The propaganda war between the Somali government and al-Shabab has been going on since 2009, when al-Shabab declared war on the then president of the Transitional Federal Government, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Since then, the two sides have been exchanging derogatory messages through their media outlets.

Journalists in Somalia are now in a difficult position. They will have to either obey this order and face the wrath of al-Shabab, or refuse to comply with the government directive and face the consequences. The government has previously arrested journalists and shut down radio stations on accusations of endangering national security.


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