Forcing Sharia Law on Mali

Key events in northern Mali, which has been totally occupied by armed Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist groups, who have forcefully imposed strict Islamic law on the population.

These groups, Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), have occupied and shared out the north since late March after piggy-backing on and then snuffing out a Tuareg rebellion.

They are determined to impose Sharia throughout Mali.

JUNE

14-15: Islamists from MUJAO confiscate and burn cartons of cigarettes and whip those caught smoking as they enforce strict Islamic law, witnesses say.

In May in Gao, MUJAO members prevent some youths from playing football and watching television, provoking violent anti-Islamic demonstrations.

20: Ansar Dine says it is not interested in proclaiming an independent state but only in the implementation of sharia.

A couple receives 100 lashes of a whip for having a child out of wedlock as Islamists continue enforcing sharia law.

JULY

1: Fighters from Ansar Dine begin their destruction of Timbuktu’s cultural treasures, shortly after UNESCO placed them on a list of endangered World Heritage sites.

Declaring the ancient Muslim shrines “haram”, or forbidden in Islam, Ansar Dine set about destroying seven of Timbuktu’s 16 mausolea of ancient Muslim saints.

16: A Timbuktu man accused of drinking alcohol is given 40 lashes by members of Ansar Dine.

29: Islamists in northern Mali stone an unmarried couple to death in the centre of the town of Aguelhok, the first reported sharia killing since they occupied the area, local government officials say.

AUGUST

8: Jihadists occupying northern Mali say they have cut off the hand of a thief in accordance with strict Islamic law, in a town south of Gao, one of the capitals of the vast desert region. At the weekend scores of protesters had swarmed Gao’s main square to prevent Islamists carrying out another amputation.