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Two stoned to death for adultery in northern Mali

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 3rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A couple has been stoned to death in northern Mali, in an example of how radical Islamist belief is making inroads into this troubled African nation. Witnesses watched without protest as Islamists executed the two by pelting them with rocks in the remote town of Aguelhok town.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I don't know how many rocks they threw or for how long it went on before they were both dead," Haman Maiga, a resident of Aguelhok who witnessed the stoning said. "No one dared to try and stop the Islamists."

A leader of a radical Islamic group had declared that Sharia law condemns relationships outside marriage.

"The man and the woman, who were both married (to other people), were having an affair," Aliou Toure, the Islamist commissioner in Gao said. "They were stoned to death, the punishment for infidelity, according to Sharia, Islamic law."

The incident was the first reported Sharia killing since al Qaeda-linked Islamists took control of the northern part of the country.

The state of Mali has been in chaos since a military ruler overthrew the democratically-elected president in March, rattling one of West Africa's most stable democracies. While the coup leader stepped down in May and transferred power to a civilian transitional government, there is grave uncertainty about Mali's future.

Ethnic Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants have taken advantage of the chaos to seize control of the northern portion of the country. The town of Aguelhok was among the first to fall when Tuareg rebels occupied the region earlier this year.

Two groups with ties to al Qaeda hijacked the separatist uprising by the local Tuareg movement afterwards. The two groups now control two-thirds of northern Mali, an area the size of Texas that includes the towns of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.

Sharia law has been imposed in the region, which bans drinking, music and sports on television. While most residents in the area are Muslims, there have been protests against Sharia law as Islamists here apply it.

"We don't have to answer to anyone over the application of Sharia. This is the form of Islam practiced for thousands of years," Toure said. "The fact that we are building a new country on the base of Sharia is just something the people living here will have to accept."

Islamist militants have been on a rampage in the area for months, destroying sacred tombs in the region and vowing to target more.

Last month, the Islamist rulers ordered residents to leave the area and razed two tombs in Timbuktu. Islamist militants regard such shrines as idolatrous and thus prohibited in their religion. The Islamists here target Sufi shrines, which they believe are sacrilegious.

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