Mali in the Maelstrom

I’ve been posting letters from a Malian friend who has been back in his homeland visiting from his current home in Portland, Oregon.  This opinion piece by Karima Bennoune. a legal scholar with wide-ranging experience in the Arab world, draws a a grim picture of what has been happening in Timbuktoo and other parts of Mali.

She also reminds us that the surge in assaults in northern Mali began as Kadafi mercenaries fled Libya with his downfall, and that although the covering rhetoric of the raiders is Islam and sharia, the behavior — assaults and rape of women– contradicts their claims entirely.

 

Since the jihadist takeover, Gao’s economy has come to a standstill. Every Thursday, there are theocratic show trials in Arabic, a language many residents do not speak. The fundamentalists focus on teaching the predominantly Muslim population of Gao “how to be Muslim.” Like Al Shabab in Somalia and the Taliban in Afghanistan, they have a morality brigade that patrols the city, checking who is not wearing a sufficient veil and whose telephone sins with a musical ringtone. Speaking to a woman in public is an offense; this ban has caused such terror that some men flee in fear if they simply see a woman on the street.

The principal had been attending public punishments to document the atrocities. This meant repeatedly watching his fellow citizens get flogged. He has seen what it looks like when a “convict” has his foot sawed off. Close to tears, he said: “No one can stand it, but it is imposed on us. Those of us who attend, we cry.”

 

NY Times

 

Radical Islam in the U.S? Not So Much

“A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized, with plots and arrests dropping sharply over the two years since an unusual peak in 2009, according to a new study by a North Carolina research group.

The study, to be released on Wednesday, found that 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots or attacks in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and a spike of 47 in 2009.

Charles Kurzman, the author of the report for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, called terrorism by Muslim Americans “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Of about 14,000 murders in the United States last year, not a single one resulted from Islamic extremism, said Mr. Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina.”

 

NY Times