Islamists in Mali Encourage Smokers to Kick the Habit With 40 Lashes
Welcome to Mali.
The black flag of the Ansar Dine Islamic group is posted on a road sign in Kidal in northeastern Mali, June 16, 2012. The leader of the Ansar Dine Islamic group in northern Mali has rejected any form of independence of the northern half of the country and has vowed to pursue plans to impose sharia law throughout the West African nation. Iyad Ag Ghali’s stance could further deepen the rift between his group and the separatist Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) as both vie for the control of the desert region. Picture taken June 16, 2012. (REUTERS/Adama Diarra)
Islamists from an Al-Qaeda offshoot in northern Mali have confiscated and burned cartons of cigarettes and whipped those caught smoking as they enforce strict Islamic law, witnesses said Friday.
“Things really got lively on Friday, Islamists from MUJAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa) took cartons of cigarettes that were on sale and set them alight,” said Moussa Guindo, who works for the town council in Bourem.
A youth from the north Mali town, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “I received 40 lashes because I was smoking and continued to smoke after I was told not to.”
A civil servant in the town, also asking not to be named, said he was whipped even though he was not smoking.
“It was my friend who was smoking but they whipped both of us saying that the cigarette is Satan. Shopkeepers who still have cigarettes hide them and to smoke, you have to hide,” he said.
Two other residents of the town said that members of MUJAO had stopped a truck transporting cigarettes between the towns of Gao and Bourem, and set the cartons alight.