Christian Refugees Flee Mali As Ansar Dine Escalates Terror

Article Summary
The fanatical Salafist group Ansar Dine continues to impose its will on northern Mali. Christians have reportedly been tortured by its members, and common events like wedding parties are banned. Samira Mouaki reports that the group has destroyed its eighth UNESCO world heritage site.

Followers of the Ansar Dine movement in northern Mali began imposing their rules by force on anyone who violates their fanatical Salafist doctrine. They recently tortured a number of Malians under the pretext of applying Islamic law. The victims included Christians who fled toward the Algerian border to escape from this hell.

The fanaticism of the armed groups controlling northern Mali has reached a level that neither religious nor non-religious people can handle. Christians are suffering so much that many have decided to leave permanently, seeking asylum in Algeria. The Ansar Dine movement, led by Iyad Ag Ghali, has decided to represent armed terrorist groups that are active in northern Mali and help impose their approach in the region. This differs from the actions of the Group of Monotheism and Jihad in West Africa, which has focused its objectives on Algerian interests.

Add to this al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which made the application of its doctrine in the region one of its duties, in compliance with the orders of the central command in the tribal region. This is the area where followers of Ag Ghali got involved in a number of crimes which claimed the lives of residents of northern Mali under the pretext of applying Islamic law. Also, they carried out massacres which were similar in nature to those carried out by the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria.

The first victim that El-Khabar found yesterday [August 27] in the Bordj Badji Mokhtar market was ''Mama," who fled a month ago from the violence of Ansar Dine. These fighters are chasing their opponents regardless of their location, in order to enforce their fanatical Salafist doctrine, which they have imposed on the population, thus disregarding freedom of religion.

The woman we interviewed, who left her home and fled with her baby to the house of relatives who live in Bordj Badji Mokhtar, said that the situation in Mali is no longer bearable, and that it is no longer about a war or a conflict. Insurgents took control of the region, and they have made the imposition of their doctrine on citizens their top concern, depriving people of any kind of liberty or of the right to live in dignity.

"Mama'' added that her relative had thrown a party after the group had banned the organization of any wedding or celebration. This had worried her, especially since they apply their beliefs without regard to the convictions of others. She said, ''we cannot get rid of the fear they have instilled in our hearts; they keep getting increasingly insolent.”

Another displaced individual echoed that life in northern Mali has "become unbearable." Young Christians are afraid of dying and some have even claimed to have abandoned their religion after witnessing hell with their own eyes. Some reported having to choose between Islam and death. Extremism, which did not even spare Muslims, led more Christians to leave their homes and flee to the neighboring countries, especially Algeria and Mauritania. The armed group has imposed — under the authorization of Blaour — their rules on all opponents of their interpretation of Islamic law.

They have already stoned an individual to death after accusing him of committing adultery. They whipped others accused of distributing illicit drugs. They have banned a number of actions they deem heresy and contrary to Islam, such as "indecent" clothing. They even attacked an unveiled woman, beating her until her baby fell to the ground. This infuriated citizens who were watching helplessly, according to a number of Christian youth roaming in the border region.

Ansar Dine destroys eighth Algerian tomb

According to a local source, a few days ago members of the Ansar Dine movement destroyed the eighth tomb since it took control of the north. This tomb belongs to the Algerian Wali Raqani Hamou, buried in Taglit, which belongs to the financial area of Tessalit. It should be noted that the armed Islamist groups had already destroyed seven similar tombs, classified by UNESCO as world heritage sites, and have also destroyed the historic Resurrection Mosque in Timbuktu.

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