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Mali: 100 Sharia Lashes for Unwed Parents in the North

The grip of Islamist group Ansar Dine on northern Mali and their imposition of Islamic law or Sharia has recently been tragically demonstrated in Timbuktu. A couple who had a child out of wedlock, publicly received 100 lashes each [fr].

This video of the sentence being carried out, shared by MaliWeb [fr] on YouTube [WARNING: Graphic content], shocked many Malians and they reacted strongly across social media.

Imposition of Sharia

In Jeune Afrique, Mohamed Ould Baby, one of the town's elected officials, describes the surreal scene of the sentence [fr] which shocked so many residents of Timbuktu:

 Sur la place Sankoré de Tombouctou (centre), un homme et une femme ont reçu cent coups de fouet chacun pour avoir eu un enfant hors mariage [..] C'était comme un spectacle, les gens ont regardé ça. J'ai vu les jeunes descendre d'un véhicule sur la place, puis les coups de fouet. C'est la première fois que je vois ça

On Timbuktu's Sankoré square, a man and a woman each received one hundred lashes for having had a child out of wedlock [..] It was quite a spectacle, people watched it. I saw the young couple get down from a vehicle in the square, then the lashings. It's the first time I've seen anything like this

Frozen by fear

The impact of the scene was heightened by the veiling of the young couple's faces and the absence of any reaction from the spectators, as if they were frozen by fear or disbelief. The young couple were then forced to marry.

Moussa Kaka has seen this phenomenon–this “freezing” of people's reactions–it has affected the population of Gao too [fr]. In Slate Afrique he reports:

Le «calme de la population de Gao.. dans une «ville (qui) semble figée». Ansar Dine et les moudjahidines contrôlent toute la partie conquise. «Ils contrôlent la vie des habitants, ils contrôlent les mosquées, (…) la façon de s’habiller, la façon de vivre…»


The “calmness of Gao's population… in a town (which) seems frozen”. Ansar Dine and the mujahideen control all of the occupied territory. “They control the lives of the population, they control the mosques, […] how to dress, how to live…”

In the same article [fr], another person states:

J`ai reçu quarante coups de fouet parce que je fumais et que j`ai continué à fumer après qu`on me l`ait interdit

I was given forty lashes because I was smoking and I carried on smoking after they had forbidden me

The imposition of Sharia law in northern Mali [fr] is one of the main objectives of Islamist group Ansar Dine, who took control of Timbuktu [fr] following a shortlived alliance [fr] with the Touareg MNLA movement.

Malijet gives details of other acts of Sharia [fr] which have been implemented in northern Mali:

La semaine dernière, des membres du Mujao avaient brûlé des cartons de cigarettes et fouetté des fumeurs à Bourem, une ville du nord du Mali qu'ils occupent et contrôlent. En mai à Gao, ils avaient empêché des jeunes de jouer au football et de regarder la télévision, ce qui avait provoqué de violentes manifestations anti-islamistes.

Last week members of Mujao burned cartons of cigarettes and whipped smokers in Bourem, a northern Malian town occupied and controled by the group. In May, in the town of Gao, they forbade young people from playing football and watching television, a move that provoked violent anti-islamist demonstrations.

Outrage among Malians

Many Malians are outraged by these punishments. But Ansar Dine is not the only group to face the wrath of Internet users. In the comment section of the Malijet news site [fr] where a video of the lashing was posted, Doumbia expresses her shame at the situation:

j'ai honte de l'armée malienne, des chefs d'Etat de la CEDEAO, des hommes politiques maliens…Bref j'ai honte de ma personne face à cette barbarie perpétrée par des violeurs, des assassins des paresseux enemis de l'humanité…Les députés, les ministres des deux mandats d'ATT, les fuillards de l'armée malienne ne valent pas mieux que ces hommes.

I'm ashamed of the Malian army, of the ECOWAS heads of state, of Malian politicians…I'm ashamed of myself faced with this barbarity perpetrated by rapists, murders, parasitic enemies of humanity… The elected deputies, the Ministers from the two ATT (Amadou Toumani Toure) terms of office, Malian army deserters, they're all no better than these men.

Djéné adds [fr]:

C'est à pleurer. Ne nous laissons plus piétiner par ces gens. Regarder bien celui qui frappe et retrouvons le il aura le même sort. Leur mariage forcé est nul ils le feront quand le nord sera libre s'ils le veulent. Jeunes gens vous êtes mes enfants et j'ai honte pour ce pays qui laisse faire ça.

It's lamentable. We can't carry on letting ourselves get trampled on by these people. Take a good look at the one doing the hitting and we'll find him; he'll get the same treatment. Their forced marriage is worthless, if they want to they can do it when the north is free. Young people you are my children and I'm ashamed of the country allowing this to happen.

In another post on the same issue commentator Momar calls on the government to take responsibility and intervene [fr]:

Mr. diarra, si vous ne faites pas quelque chose le plus vite possible contre ces barbares, nous allons vous faire partir. Nous souffrons trop dans notre ame et dignité. Mais c'est du jamais vu en afrique. C'est incroyable. Même apres une guerre gagnée contre ces barbares d'autres cieux, ces infamies nous resterons collées dans nos consciences.

Mr Diarra, if you don't do something about these barbarians as soon as possible we are going to force you out. Our souls and our digity are suffering greatly. But this hasn't ever been seen before in Africa. It's unbelieveable. Even after winning a war against these foreign savages, these acts of infamy will stain our consciences.

But not everyone agrees. Karaski think that Malians have a spiritual choice to make [fr]:

Je n'approuve pas la manière dont ces groupes armés ont atteri dans notre pays, et je pense que si la charia doit être appliqué, ça doit être avec le choix des maliens. Néanmoins disons le : ceci n'est que la pratique de ce qu'Allah nous a ordonné. Et que chacun de nous se dise que s'il reprouve ce chatiment soit parce qu'il le trouve inhumain, moyennageux…et bien qu'il sache que c'est l'Islam même qu'il rejette et par la même occasion doit se poser des questions sur la sincerité de sa foi en Allah et au Coran.

I don't agree with the way these armed groups have landed in our counrty, and I think that it is for Malians to decide if Sharia law should be adopted. Nevertheless, quite frankly: this is just the practice of Allah's commands. And we all need to tell ourself that those who disapprove of the punishment either because they find it inhuman, something out of the dark ages… they need to know that what they are rejecting is Islam, and they need to question the sincerity of their faith in Allah and the Quran.

Malien retorts to Karaski with another interpretation of Islam [fr]:

Nous respectons les valeurs humaines et universelles, nous ne commettons pas de viols même si nous ne sommes pas musulmans, nous ne commettons des vols même si nous ne sommes pas musulmans, nous ne sommes pas traficants de drogue, nous me sommes pas non plus de feinéants, nous travaillons et nous vivons de notre labeur. Si l'islam, c'est être comme vous êtes; non nous ne sommes pas musulmans et nous le seront jamais. L'islam que nous connaissons, c'est la paix, le respect de soi et des autres, le respect de la dignité humaine.

We respect universal human values, we don't rape even though we aren't Muslim, we don't rob even though we aren't Muslim, we aren't drug traffickers, we aren't irresponsible, we work and we provide for ourselves. If Islam means being like you; no we are not Muslim and we never will be. The Islam we know means peace, respect for yourself and others, respect for human dignity.


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