Comedian who lampooned Islamists is murdered in Mogadishu
A prominent Somali comedian who regularly made fun of Islamist extremists was murdered in Mogadishu. Abdi Jeylani Malaq, known popularly as “Marshale,” ridiculed the al-Shebab insurgents as part of his comedy routine.
The assassination shows the power of ridicule against Islamists and other rigid ideologues – as well as the dangers in standing up to them. Marshale is one of many Somali media personalities targeted for murder since December.
Some have argued that ridicule should be a calculated part of any strategy against enemies of the United States. The Institute of World Politics published my white paper on the subject in 2006. USA Today ran a piece endorsing the idea, followed by the Los Angeles Times. In 2010, The Atlantic published “The Case for Calling Them Nitwits.”
If it isn’t safe for Somali comedians to skewer al-Shebab in their own city, the US should provide the media platform through its under-utilized information warfare and PSYOP resources.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on the killing of the Somali funnyman. “Marshale was known for airing dramas making fun of the extremist Shebab and for participating in youth advocacy programs aimed at preventing young Somalis from joining the insurgents,” AFP said, though some news organizations, like the Daily Star of Lebanon, deleted any reference to the Islamists from the story.
Marshale knew he was on the terrorists’ death list, but he kept making fun of them anyway. Amnesty International reports that the comedian “had previously received death threats from al-Shabab, the Islamist armed group fighting against Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.”
“He had not done anything wrong to anybody, as far as we are concerned, but they shot him in the head and shoulders,” Yusuf Keynan, a presenter at Kulmiye radio, told AFP. “This is a black day for the entire entertainment industry, he was a leader in Somalia comedy and everybody liked his performance.”
According to AFP, “So far this year, at least one Somali journalist has been targeted and killed each month.” The victim was not a journalist, but a comedian and dramatist.