A court in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has ordered the deportation to Somalia of a popular social media star after a video was released of him drinking tea from a cup which was decorated with the image of the Somali flag.
Bilal Bulshawi, who is known by Somalis as “the president of TikTok”, has been in detention for nearly two months in Hargeisa.
Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia nearly 30 years ago, has punished others for displaying the Somali flag.
In 2015, members of a popular band were arrested on return to Somaliland after they waved the Somali flag at a concert in Mogadishu.
Bulshawi release and deportation comes after Somaliland’s Minister of Interior, Mohamed Kahin Ahmed, said he had accepted requests for his freedom.
Some people who attended a ceremony in Hargeisa where former Somali fighter pilot Ahmed Mohamed Hassan (Ahmed Dheere), who refused to bomb the capital was awarded a medal, demanded the release of Bulshawi.
Speaking at the event, the interior minister said he had accepted the requests and would take action in releasing Bulshawi.
Bilal Bulshawi’s family has previously called on the Somaliland authorities to release their son.