Mali: Islamists have banned music in northern region

In Kidal, heartland of the Islamist Ansar Dine group, music has been replaced by prayer readings on the local radio. The group wants to impose strict sharia law across Mali.

North Mali has been declared an independent country by the name Azawad


In three short days in the beginning of April 2012, a mix of rebel forces seized the three main regional centres of a territory the size of France, bringing the Tuareg closer than ever before to their decades-old dream of carving out a desert nation of their own. But the presence of Islamists among the rebels in northern Mali raises fears of the emergence of a rogue state with echoes of Taliban-era Afghanistan.

Residents in northern cities such as the ancient trading post of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao said the local Islamist Ansar Dine group (‘Defenders of Faith’) instantly issued a ban on music and Western dress. Rather than establish an independent desert nation in the northern region, which Al Qaeda cells, hostage-takers and smugglers have already made their own, the Ansar Dine leader Iyad Ag Ghali wants to impose strict sharia law across Mali.

There have reportedly been sightings of senior members of the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the group’s North African branch.

The United Nations says more than 200,000 people have fled their homes in Mali to refugee camps elsewhere in the country and across Mali’s borders with nearby countries.



The Daily Star – 8 April 2012:
‘Mali’s north feared new “rogue state” in Sahara’

France 24 – 6 April 2012:
‘Tuareg rebel group declares independence of north Mali’


Latest news on this topic

Google News – continuously updated:
Search: “Mali” + “Ansar Dine” + “music”


Music banned from the radio in Timbuktu

Rebels captured the town of 50,000 citizens in northern Mali in April, and since the takeover in April, the Islamists of Ansar Dine, supported by Al Qaeda, have gained the upper hand over the Tuaregs. They are now aggressively promoting their hard-edged brand of Islamic law, Shariah, which means music has been banned from the radio, and women are forced to wear full, face-covering veils.

“Timbuktu has taken on the air of a ghost town. Most stores have closed, and streets are deserted,” Adam Nossiter reported in New York Times. Football, the shaving of beards, television and smoking has also been declared illegal.

“They want to put a veil on everything. They are everywhere, everywhere with their guns,” Mrs. Baba Aicha Kalil told Adam Nossiter. She is a well-known civic activist who still lives in Timbuktu. Adam Nossiter reached her over a crackly telephone line from Bamako, the country’s capital.

According to The Associated Press, Alghabass Ag Intalla, one of the leaders of Ansar Dine (also spelled: Ansar al-Din), signed an agreement with National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad in the northern town of Gao on 26 May 2012. Alghabass Ag Intalla was quoted as saying:

“I have just signed an accord that will see an independent and Islamic state where we have Islamic law.”

Until then, the two rebel group had been in disagreement because Ansar Dine wanted to impose Shariah law in the area they occupy, while the secular NMLA had been resisting this.

Read the article

The New York Times – 2 June 2012:
‘In Timbuktu, Harsh Change Under Islamists’

Latest news on this topic

Google News – continuously updated:
Search: “Mali” + “Ansar Dine” + “music”


Other sources

Magharebia – 4 June 2012:
‘Mali Islamists impose harsh Sharia’

The Salt Lake Tribune – 26 May 2012:
‘Rebel groups merge in Mali, agree on Islamic state ’

France 24 – 6 April 2012:
‘Tuareg rebel group declares independence of north Mali’


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