The Islamists in Northern Mali are getting more unpleasant.
On a sweltering afternoon, Islamist police officers dragged Fatima Al Hassan out of her house in the fabled city of Timbuktu. They beat her up, shoved her into a white pickup truck and drove her to their headquarters. She was locked up in a jail as she awaited her sentence: 100 lashes with an electrical cord.
“Why are you doing this?” she recalled asking.
Hassan was being punished for giving water to a male visitor.
Grabbed, beaten up, abducted, “sentenced” to 100 lashes with an electrical cord, for giving water to a man. Fatima Al Hassan does something ordinary and sociable, and a bunch of men commit a whole set of violent crimes against her to punish her for that.
“The people are losing all hope,” said Sadou Diallo, a former mayor of the northern city of Gao. “For the past eight months, they have lived without any government, without any actions taken against the Islamists. Now the Islamists feel they can do anything to the people.”
So they do.
Why do people want to do shit like that? Why don’t they hate their “god” and run away from it?
Refugees fleeing the north are now bringing stories that are darker than those recounted in interviews from this summer. Although their experiences cannot be independently verified — because the Islamists have threatened to kill or kidnap Westerners who visit — U.N. officials and human rights activists say that they have heard similar reports of horrific abuses and that some may amount to war crimes.
The refugees say the Islamists are raping and forcibly marrying women, and recruiting children for armed conflict. Social interaction deemed an affront to their interpretation of Islam is zealously punished through Islamic courts and a police force that has become more systematic and inflexible, human rights activists and local officials say.
“They are going around asking every pregnant woman who made her pregnant,” said Alkaya Toure, an official with Cri de Coeur, a Malian human rights group. “They also rely on spies inside the populations in Gao, Timbuktu and elsewhere.”
But as a reward for loyalty, the Islamists have found a religious loophole. They have encouraged their fighters to marry women and girls, some as young as 10, and often at gunpoint. After sex, they initiate a quick divorce. In an extreme case that has shocked the country, a girl in Timbuktu was forced last month to “marry” six fighters in one night, according to a report in one of Mali’s biggest newspapers.
A positively papal level of hypocrisy.
In a telephone interview, a senior Islamist commander conceded that his fighters were marrying young girls.
“Our religion says that if a girl is 12, she must get married to avoid losing her virginity in a wrong way,” said Oumar Ould Hamaha, the military leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa…
And a “wrong” way of course is one without “marriage” – but “marriage” is whatever we say it is, so we can whip you or stone you or fuck you and then divorce you, whichever we choose.
And they treat boys and men like crap too.
I’m so sick of thugs.