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Christians, Women Victims as Islamic Forces Implement Sharia Law in North Mali

06/07/2012 International Christian Concern (Washington D.C.)-Radical Islamists in control of northern Mali are enforcing a strict version of Sharia law that victimizes Christians, women and other vulnerable groups. The radicals took control of northern Mali in April after ousting the armed forces of the government of Mali.

All the Christians have left Timbuktu (the main city in north Mali) because of the Sharia law as well as because of the presence of people linked with al-Qaeda,” said a Christian leader who fled from northern Mali. “According to the Islamists, women cannot mix with men and can’t ride on motorcycle with men. Women must also wear veils.”

Islamic rebels are enforcing the strict Sharia law by lashing women who failed to comply with the rules. They also have imprisoned other alleged violators of the Sharia law.

The West African country of Mali has been in political crisis after two rebel groups took over the northern part of the country. The rebel group called the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (NMLA) is a secular group fighting for independence of north Mali. The other group, Ansar Dine, is an Islamic group with links to al-Qaeda. On May 26, the two groups agreed to merge and form an Islamic state in north Mali.