Islamist takeover of Mali poses security threat to Europe

October 20, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

“Civil and political rights are being severely restricted as a result of the imposition of a strict interpretation of sharia law, and systematic cruel and inhumane punishments are being implemented, including executions, mutilations and stonings.”

Islamist militants control two-thirds of Mali

Islamist militants control two-thirds of Mali

Mali, October 19, 2012: Ivan Šimonovic, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, last week painted this disturbing picture of life under harsh Islamist rule following a four-day fact-finding trip to Mali.

Militant groups with links to al-Qaeda are in control of two-thirds of the country following a violent takeover in the aftermath of a military coup in March. They came out of Libya following the fall of Colonel Gaddafi and, armed with weapons from that country, attacked Mali. The militants are ruling by force and fear in a manner reminiscent of al-Shabaab, which controls most of southern Somalia.

Speaking about his findings, Mr Šimonovic said there had been three public executions, eight amputations and two floggings. In one barbaric incident in July, a man and woman were stoned to death for committing adultery.

He said that women were “the primary victims” of the harsh Islamist rule and that their rights to employment, education and access to basic social services have been seriously curtailed.

Mr Šimonovic referred to a “frightening” list that was being compiled of unmarried women who were pregnant or had borne children. “This could indicate that these women are at imminent risk of being subjected to cruel and inhumane punishment,” he added.

Women are being bought against their will as wives, with some being resold, in what he described as “a smokescreen for enforced prostitution and rapes”.

The Islamists are funding their campaign with money from ransoms and drug trafficking. They are buying child soldiers for US$600 (£375) and paying their families US$400 a month thereafter, exploiting the poverty and desperation of many Malians. One witness told Mr Šimonovic that three children were maimed while being trained in how to use improvised explosive devices.

Around a third of the population of 1.5 million people in northern Mali have fled their homes, with some going to neighbouring countries while others are internally displaced. Christians in the territory were driven out at an early stage in the takeover.

Leaders of the Islamist militants in Mali have been defiant in the face of international condemnation. Aliou Toure said in August:

We don’t have to answer to anyone over the application of sharia. This is the form of Islam practised for thousands of years.

THREAT “FOR EUROPE”

The Islamist takeover of northern Mali has potentially far-reaching implications. French President François Hollande, who has been pushing for military action against the militants, said on 12 October:

What’s happening in the Sahel since some months, like in Mali with organised terrorism, isn’t just a threat for West Africa, or Mali, it’s a major question for the security of the African continent and for Europe.

Neighbouring African countries are likewise concerned and want the Islamists removed from Mali before they become too established and start to push across the borders.

The UN Security Council passed a draft resolution on 12 October paving the way for military intervention in Mali, setting a 45-day deadline for a detailed plan to be prepared.

The entire region is becoming increasingly unstable. There are concerns about the growing presence of Islamist militants in the Maghreb, while Boko Haram is waging a violent campaign to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria.

The Christian community in North Africa was already small and vulnerable, but if Islamists continue to gain strength and territory, the Church’s continued existence there looks increasingly threatened.

– barnabas edit

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