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News Posted on January 24, 2013

Professor Bennoune Publishes Op-ed on Mali in New York Times

Professor Karima Bennoune has published an op-ed in the New York Times on the conflict in Mali, where fundamentalist armed groups are fighting to control the northern part of the secular African nation.  Mali has been in conflict since last year, when an uprising led by Tuareg separatists was followed by a military coup, and Islamic extremists took advantage of the resulting chaos, seizing control of half the country.  Last month, France intervened to aid the Malian military in fighting the rebels who were marching southward.

Professor Bennoune, who is at work on a book on people of Muslim heritage challenging fundamentalism, visited Mali in December, and her New York Times op-ed includes reports of abuses suffered by the Malian people as the rebels have sought to impose their version of Shariah law, including stonings, amputations, destruction of churches and the tombs of Sufi saints, and other atrocities.  It also details the efforts of the people of the north to stand up to the militants.

"Policy decisions regarding this potential Afghanistan-in-the-Sahara must be informed by the fact that what is happening there is not simply a question of regional or global security, but of basic human rights," Bennoune writes. "The current intervention in Mali could deal a decisive blow to the recent advance of fundamentalism across North Africa, but only if French and West African soldiers take care to distinguish between civilians and their jihadist oppressors, who hide among the innocent."

Karima Bennoune is a highly respected author, lecturer, teacher, and international law scholar as well as the first Arab-American to be honored with the Derrick A. Bell Award from the Section on Minority Groups of the Association of American Law Schools.  She joined the King Hall faculty from Rutgers in 2012.  Her current projects include the book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism, forthcoming from W.W. Norton & Company in August.

New York Times op-ed: "The Taliban of Timbuktu"