Somalia Bans TikTok, Telegram over terrorism fear

Mogadishu (AFP):-The Somali government on Sunday ordered a ban on TikTok, Telegram, and an online betting site (1XBET), over claims that these platforms were being used by “terrorists” to spread propaganda.

The ban comes ahead of a major military offensive against al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group that has been waging a bloody insurgency against the central government in Mogadishu for over 15 years.

The Ministry of Communications and Technology ordered internet service providers to implement the ban by August 24 or face unspecified legal action.

“In a bid to accelerate the war and elimination of the terrorists who have shed the blood of the Somali people, the minister of communication and technology instructs companies that provide internet services to suspend TikTok, Telegram, and 1XBET betting applications, which terrorists and groups responsible for spreading immorality use to spread graphic clips, photos and mislead society,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry says banning them will “speed up the war (…) against the terrorists who have spilled the blood of the people of Somalia”.

Since August 2022, the Somali army has been engaged in an offensive against the Shebab, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, alongside local clan militias and with the support of African Union troops and American air strikes.

Shebab fighters were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, but they remain firmly entrenched in vast rural areas, from where they continue to carry out attacks against security and civilian targets.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud has pledged to rid the country of Islamist militias and could shortly announce the second phase of the military offensive against the Shebab in the south of the country.

The ban on TikTok and Telegram has been met with mixed reactions.

Some people have welcomed the move, saying it is necessary to stop the spread of terrorist propaganda. Others have criticized the ban, saying it is an infringement on freedom of expression.

It remains to be seen how effective the ban will be in stopping al-Shabaab from using social media to spread its message.

However, the government is clearly determined to take a tough stance against the group.

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