News / Africa

Mali's Ansar Dine Defends Punishments, Strict Sharia

x
VOA News
A spokesman for an al-Qaida-linked militant group in northern Mali says its members are "ready to die" in order to enforce what the group considers Islamic law.

In an interview with VOA, the spokesman for extremist group Ansar Dine defended actions such as amputating the hands of thieves, destroying historic sites and silencing all non-Islamic music.

Islamist militants helped seize northern Mali from government forces five months ago, and later took full control of the region.

Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Boumama said shortly after taking control militants began teaching people about "all things that are forbidden by their religion."  He said the population was initially "very reluctant" to accept the militants' point of view.  But he said eventually they did and "now we don't have any problem."

United Nations officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have accused groups in northern Mali of extremist and criminal activities.

Boumama defended recent punishments by extremists, including public floggings and the amputation of a suspected thief's hand.

"We are Muslims.  We are going to implement Islamic law, and Islamic law punishes thieves this way," said Boumama.

In July, Ansar Dine executed a couple accused of adultery by stoning them to death.

Boumama also justified the destruction of the ancient tombs of Muslim saints in Timbuktu, saying it is forbidden to pray there.

"For someone to go to a shrine to pray for something is really a mockery; so what we have done was just to implement Sharia law.  Sharia law doesn't accept this kind of things," he said.

This week militants ordered radio stations in the region to stop broadcasting all non-Islamic music, saying it is "forbidden" by Islam.

Witnesses say Ansar Dine and another group, MUJAO, are being supported by al-Qaida's northern Africa branch, known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

The United Nations and western powers have expressed concern that northern Mali is becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

Mali's interim government has vowed to retake the north from extremists.

The 15-member West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS has offered to send more than 3,000 troops to help restore order in Mali.  The bloc is awaiting a formal request from Mali's new national unity government.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid