Mogadishu – The Somali capital Mogadishu has ordered entrepreneurs to remove English-language signboards so as to protect the Somali language, a spokesperson for the mayor said on Thursday.
“Residents are required to remove signs written in English from their businesses in the capital. The order is aimed at promoting the Somali language,” spokesperson Abdifirah Omar Halane said.
Those refusing to obey can be fined or jailed, said Ahmed Abdulle Afrah, district commissioner of Wadajir, one of the 17 districts in the capital.
“We have to follow the instructions and remove the signboards from our shops,” businessman Omar Halwo said, expressing concern that he could otherwise be arrested.
“Somalia belongs to Somalis, and we have to protect our culture and language … Our language has been dominated by the English language,” Afrah said.
But not everyone was happy with the prospect of English-language billboards and other signs vanishing from the capital.
“I think it is unwise for … officials to impose such language discrimination,” pharmacist Anwar Ali said. “Our children are learning the English language in schools and universities,” he added.
“We can show our love for our country by being honest, by paying taxes in time. But by obeying bad laws like bans on other languages, you would look like a racist,” university student Ahmed Hagi said.