Somali Clerics Gather Mogadishu for Conference Against Al-Shabab

Somali religious leaders gathered in Mogadishu for four days to combat al-Shabab's extremist ideology. (PHOTO CREDIT: Presidency)

Somali religious leaders are meeting in Mogadishu for a four-day conference to discuss how to combat al-Shabab ideologies and the government on religious issues.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said that a concerted effort was required to combat al-Shabab extremist ideologies and scholars to guide the population on proper religious understanding.

“The terrorists’ deceptive narrative has poisoned the minds of some of our people, and we will work with our clerics to liberate them,” Mohamud said Monday at a religious conference.

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud urged clerics to back his government in its fight against al-Shabab militants. (PHOTO CREDIT: Presidency)

The al-Qaida-linked terror group al-Shabab has used religion, the presence of foreign forces and local grievances to recruit youth into its ranks and fight against the Somali government.

Sheikh Somow, one of the religious leaders attending the conference, said the clerics must protect the religion from those who use it to further their own agenda.

“We have come together here today as part of fulfilling our religious obligations bestowed upon us as scholars and spiritual leaders to safeguard our sacred religion of Islam from the Khawarij who have distorted and fabricated lies about our beloved faith,” he said.

The religious leaders are expected to give a better understanding of the religion and form a religious council that will work with the government on matters of religion.

The religious leaders gathering in Mogadishu comes amid an ongoing military offensive against al-Shabab in central regions.

President Mohamud called on clerics to put their differences aside and guide the population.