Details of a horrific flogging in Mali as sharia extremists impose their unforgiving justice on young lovers
Al-Qaeda militants happy to impose Islam by the sword
Stories of Islamic cruelty are coming out of Timbuktu following the French liberation of that city just days ago. The Islamic militants imposed a strict brand of sharia justice on the city's inhabitants, arresting many, stoning some, and whipping others.
Slalaka Djike, 24, was and hopefully still is, an outgoing young woman who worked in the public market, spending her small income to buy clothing and makeup, and to have her hair done. She was cheerful and flirtatious, so when a man called her by mistake, she struck up a conversation with him and before long, a romance developed.
The man, who she did not name to protect him from Islamists, was already married, however that is not a taboo in that region where a man may have up to four wives.
Their romance blossomed in the days just before the arrival of separatists who wanted to carve out a separate, Islamic state for themselves. A few days after the rebels passed through the city, Islamic militants arrived. These conquers were different.
Whereas the rebels were intent on fighting government soldiers, the Islamists flew the flag of Ansar Dine, an al-Qaeda affiliated organization. Their fighters proceeded to impose sharia law on the city, compelling the women to wear black burqas, something unheard of in the African state where women have long worn vibrant colors and fashionable clothing.
They also forbade men from seeing women to whom they were not married.
Salaka and her boyfriend realized they faced grave danger when news spread the militants had stoned a couple who were living together out of wedlock and had children.
Soon, the couple was meeting in secret and for only short periods of time, but eventually they were caught. Although he boyfriend managed to escape on a motorcycle, Salaka was arrested.
For several days she was held in a special jail established for women. She was sentenced to 95 lashes, a punishment the Daily Mail explained was harsh, even by sharia standards.
The article details her experience:
"They took her to the market at noon on Jan. 4, the same place where she bought the beef for the brochettes she sold and the flour used to make her mother's flatbread. She recognized the meat sellers. One of them used his phone to record what happened next.
The police made her kneel in a traffic circle. They covered her in a gauze-like shroud. They told her to remove her dress, leaving only the thin fabric to protect her skin from the whip. Curious children jostled for a better view.
What they did to her was witnessed by dozens of people in Timbuktu, and can still be heard on the meat seller's cell phone.
The executor announced Salaka's crime and her punishment. Then he began flogging her with a switch made from the branch of a tree. Her high-pitched cries are contorted with pain. You can hear the slap of the whip. You can hear her labored breathing.
They hit her so hard and for so long that at one point she wasn't sure if the veil had fallen off. She could feel the blood seeping through.
When it was over, they told her that if they ever saw her with a man again, they would kill her."
After the flogging she was sent home. Minutes after arriving there, her boyfriend called, having fled to the capital, part of a swelling refugee population of nearly 400,000 people by some estimates.
He promised to marry her and apologized for her capture.
Salaka is now widely recognized because her punishment was public and a shopkeeper recorded the event with his cell phone. Even now, she remains at home for fear the militants will return and punish her again. Next time, the warned, she would be killed.
Fortunately, the militants have been beaten back, for now, with the aid of French forces. Many Malians are happy to be liberated, finding that conversion by the sword leaves much to be desired.
Although freedom is returning to Timbuktu, it is difficult to imagine what smaller towns and communities in the north must be suffering as Islamist hard-liners hold tightly to power in those regions.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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