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News Posted on January 31, 2013

Professor Bennoune Comments On Mali Conflict for CBC

Professor Karima Bennoune was interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on the conflict in Mali.  Fundamentalists took control of northern Mali in spring 2012, enforcing Sharia law on unwilling locals, and recently French forces have intervened alongside the Malian military  in support of the secular government. 

Professor Bennoune was interviewed at length on a January 28 edition of the CBC Radio program Q entitled "The Taliban of Timbuktu," which was the title of her recent New York Times op-ed. She discussed the history and culture of Mali and the Malian people's commitment to secularism and called for ongoing international commitment to the country.  Professor Bennoune, who visited Mali in December, described abuses suffered by ordinary people in the north of Mali as the fundamentalist rebels sought to impose their version of Sharia law, including stonings, amputations, destruction of libraries, churches, and the tombs of Sufi saints, and other atrocities. Bennoune also described the efforts of the people of the north to stand up to the militants, and explained that gaining more international support for such efforts was part of the motivation for writing her book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism, forthcoming from W.W. Norton & Company in August.

"My own father was a university professor in Algeria at the University of Algiers and was a very outspoken critic of the fundamentalists who plagued his country at that time, and he received death threats and ultimately had to stop teaching at the university" she said.  "I think one of the things that was so difficult for him was that even though he remained in Algeria and continued to speak out and risk his life, he felt that people like him, voices like his, got very little of an audience internationally and got very little support.  The book for me is a very personal project about going out and trying to find people like my father in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Egypt, in Tunisia, to try to tell their stories so they can get more support and ultimately be more successful in all their human rights struggles."

Karima Bennoune is an 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 School of Law-Newark in 2012. 

CBC Radio podcast: "The Taliban of Timbuktu"