Things are going to hell in Mali, and a UN force will soon invade the country to restore order. Among the horrible things taking place in that country is the imposition of sharia law by the rebel Islamist government. The New York Times had a chilling piece yesterday on what happens when the Muslim faith gets the upper hand.
BAMAKO, Mali — Moctar Touré was strapped to a chair, blindfolded, his right hand bound tight to the armrest with a rubber tube. A doctor came and administered a shot. Then Mr. Touré’s own brother wielded a knife, the kind used to slaughter sheep, and methodically carried out the sentence.
Souleymane Traoré had his right hand cut off by Mr. Touré’s brother, a police chief in the Islamist-held north.
“I myself cut off my brother’s hand,” said Aliou Touré, a police chief in the Islamist-held north of this divided nation. “We had no choice but to practice the justice of God.”
Such amputations are designed to shock — residents are often summoned to watch — and even as the world makes plans to recapture northern Mali by force, the Islamists who control it show no qualms about carrying them out.
After the United Nations Security Council authorized a military campaign to retake the region last week, Islamists in Gao, Mr. Touré’s town, cut the hands off two more people accused of being thieves the very next day, a leading local official said, describing it as a brazen response to the United Nations resolution. Then the Islamists, undeterred by the international threats against them, warned reporters that eight others “will soon share the same fate.”
This harsh application of Shariah law, with people accused of being thieves sometimes having their feet amputated as well, has occurred at least 14 times since the Islamist takeover last spring, not including the recent vow of more to come, according to Human Rights Watch and independent observers.
But those are just the known cases, and dozens of other residents have been publicly flogged with camel-hair whips or tree branches for offenses like smoking, or even for playing music on the radio. Several were whipped in Gao on Monday for smoking in public, an official said, while others said that anything other than Koranic verses were proscribed as cellphone ringtones. A jaunty tune is punishable by flogging.
At least one case of the most severe punishment — stoning to death — was carried out in the town of Aguelhok in July against a couple accused of having children out of wedlock.
Flogging for a cellphone ringtone, and stoning to death—a horrible way to go—for having a child while unmarried! Only religion could mandate things like that. And the amputations can be prolonged, too:
Moctar Touré had his hand amputated several weeks later. He said it took 30 minutes, though he fainted in the process, awakening in the hospital bed where the Islamists had placed him afterward.Mr. Touré said his brother had insisted that the sentence be carried out.
“They asked my own brother three times if that was the sentence,” Mr. Touré said. “He’s the commissioner of police in Gao, and he wants to die a martyr,” Mr. Touré said quietly. “He joined up with the Islamists when they came to Gao.”
Here is Souleymane Traoré, whose right hand was amputated by Mr. Touré’s brother, a police chief:
You may have qualms about the proposed invasion, which was unanimously approved by the UN security council (and will apparently use troops from five African nations), but I don’t see any alternative to restore stability in Mali. It’s the lesser of two evils.