It appears that the Islamist group ruling over the town of Jowhar in Somalia has finally cracked down on mixed-sex handshakes. While I applauded al-Shabab’s previous ban on music, I worried that it was not enough. Thankfully, the group has come through with a firm and uncompromising measure that achieves maximum absurdity.
According to an article from the BBC, “men and women who are not related are also barred from walking together or chatting in public”. While some may have felt that the handshake ban was enough, I personally believe that these additional stipulations are essential to achieving maximum awkwardness and a meaningful reduction of natural human interaction.
The article states that the penalty for breaking the ban will “probably” be public flogging. While I’m certainly glad to see this penalty instituted, I had hoped for something more significant. I anticipated that al-Shabab might institute the death penalty or at least cut off the hands of offenders, and in fact the tentative language of the article suggests that one of these options may still be a possibility. However, even if al-Shabab passes on these options, it is good to know that there is a solid flogging penalty in place.