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Somalia: Restrictions on Sale of Khat

(Apr. 3, 2009) It was reported on March 25, 2009, that a law imposed by Al Shebaab, a group that controls Baidoa and other major towns in southern Somalia, banning the sale of Khat inside the city limits of Baidoa has sent hundreds of people out to the streets in protest. Khat is a stimulant drug derived from a shrub (Catha edulis) that is native to East Africa. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA InfoFacts: Khat, available at (last visited Mar. 27, 2009).) Cathinone, which is one of the main ingredients of Khat, in addition to Cathine, is a schedule I drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. (Id.)

According to the new law, khat can only be sold in a specific area outside the city limits. Protestors blocked roads, chanted anti Al Shebaab slogans, and demanded that the ban be lifted. Al Shebaab commander in the Bay and Bakool regions, Sheik Hassan Mohamed, told reporters that Al Shebaab intends eventually to completely ban the sale and use of Khat. He said that “chewing Khat is un-Islamic and most profit is made by neighboring countries.” (Baidoa Protests Against Al Shabaab Khat Order, GAROWE ONLINE, Mar. 25, 2009, available at