The reign of terror imposed by armed Islamists gangs who seized control of northern Mali has been widely reported. Last spring, these groups took advantage of the destabilization that followed a coup in the country that was once considered one of Africa’s most stable democracies. In the areas they control, the Islamists proceeded to not only ruthlessly destroy ancient Muslim mausoleums that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, but also to impose their brutal rule on the defenseless population.
Under the rather restrained headline “Mali: Islamist Armed Groups Spread Fear in North,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) has provided a fairly detailed report of the atrocities committed by the Islamists. According to HRW’s senior Africa researcher,
“The Islamist armed groups have become increasingly repressive as they have tightened their grip over northern Mali … Stonings, amputations [i.e. Sharia-sanctioned mutilations], and floggings have become the order of the day in an apparent attempt to force the local population to accept their world view. In imposing their brand of Sharia law, they have also meted out a tragically cruel parody of justice and recruited and armed children as young as 12.”
In December, the United Nations Security Council sanctioned an African-led military intervention in Mali; however, the deployment of these forces was only in the planning stage when Al-Qaeda linked groups recently made further advances. Following an appeal for urgent military aid from France by Mali’s government a few days ago, France promptly intervened to support the efforts of Mali’s armed forces to push back the Islamist advance. According to a Reuters report, “France’s intervention immediately tipped the military balance of power,” enabling Malian government forces to retake the town recently seized by the Islamists.
Reuters also reported that “a spokesman for al Qaeda’s north African arm AQIM urged France … to reconsider its intervention. ‘Stop your assault against us or you are digging your own sons’ graves.’”
This is how veteran “pro-Palestinian” activist Ali Abunimah commented on this development on Twitter:
In another tweet, Abunimah opined: “François Hollande must have gotten permission from Obama before declaring France’s glorious little war in Mali.”
Apparently, for a progressive “pro-Palestinian” activist like Ali Abunimah, there is nothing wrong with the reign of terror and destruction imposed by Islamists in Mali – but when a western country helps the armed forces of Mali to drive the Islamist terror groups back, it’s time to express outrage.
Since Abunimah is a regular Al Jazeera contributor – both for the website and as a studio guest – one could wonder if this is the kind of “nuance” that the New York Times editorial board had in mind when it warmly welcomed the news about the planned launch of Al Jazeera America.
This was also cross-posted at Harry’s Place.
In the meantime, some of Ali Abunimah’s fellow progressives have been active:
In case you wonder who Anjem Choudary is, here are a few lines from his Wikipedia entry (but there is much more…):
“Choudary is a vocal critic of the UK’s involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has praised the terrorists involved in the attacks of 11 September 2001, and 7 July 2005. He believes in the implementation of Sharia Law throughout the UK, and marched in protest at the Jyllands-Posten cartoons controversy, following which he was prosecuted for organising an unlawful demonstration. He was also investigated, but not charged, for his 2006 comments regarding Pope Benedict XVI. Choudary receives little support from the mainstream UK Muslim population and has been largely criticised in the media. The French Interior Ministry has also permanently banned him from entering France.”
And according to a report in the Egypt Independent, Jama’a al-Islamiya has also called for protests at the French embassy against the intervention in Mali.
To round out the picture, it’s worthwhile noting that Iran’s Press TV reacted already back in December to the UN Security Council’s approval of an intervention in Mali with an article entitled “Mali new prey to West imperialist quest.”
Last but by no means least, the blog “Africa is a country” has a detailed post on the unfolding events in Mali, which includes also a paragraph that nicely summarizes who is opposing the intervention:
“Not everyone is in favor of the intervention. Let’s count some of the more vocal opponents—Oumar Mariko, Mali’s perpetual gadfly; French ex-Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who argues that it would be better to wait for the lions to lie down with the lambs; Paris-based Camerounian novelist Calixthe Beyala, plagiarist who argues that those Malians who would prefer not to live under a crude faux-Islamic vigilantism suffer from a plantation mentality; and some truly reprehensible protesters at the French embassy in London, who refuse to believe that most Malians are Muslims and don’t need religious instruction from Salafists. It’s hard to imagine a leakier ship of fools.”
The “truly reprehensible protesters at the French embassy in London” mentioned here are obviously the ones pictured above.