Four members of the Horn Stars band from Somaliland were arrested upon their return to Hargeisa Egal International Airport in the capital of Somaliland on 27 September. This was after they allegedly violated the 'sovereignty' of the autonomous region by sharing photos online while in a blue Somali flag. The four - Nimcaan Hilaac, Xamdi Queen, C/raxmaan Oday and Maxamed Cirro - performed during the Eid al-Adha holiday in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.
Somaliland declared itself independent from the rest of Somalia in 1991, but this has not been recognized internationally. Somaliland limits movement of citizens to Somalia to protect independence ambitions.
Somaliland's Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Adarreh told the BBC service that the musicians were employees of the government and therefore should not do anything that recognizes the unity of Somalia and Somaliland. However, this has been disputed by a prominent Somaliland musician, Khadra Silimo, who says the four are not employees of the government. The arrests have drawn widespread criticism from Somalis across the world, who have rallied behind the young popular musicians. Famous Somali female singer Farxiya Kabayare has slammed Somaliland authorities for the move. She said music and Somali language has no border in a video she posted on her Facebook page.
Federal Government of Somalia Minister of Planning, Abdirahman Ainte, has faulted Hargeisa authorities, saying Mogadishu should not be treated differently to Jigjiga in Ethiopia and Djibouti - referring to the band’s recent performances in these two neighboring countries.
On 29 September, the band was reportedly brought to Hargeisa District Court, where the judge allegedly stated that their detention was illegal. But even so, the same court remanded them for seven days – without charges. However, another Somali news outlet, Somali ABC, reports that the band members were finally released on 30 September.
The Horn Stars band first rose to fame a few years ago for promoting the then privately owned Horn Cable Television group, with which they have since parted ways.