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News Posted on February 5, 2013

Professor Bennoune Comments on Mali Conflict for HuffPost Live

Professor Karima Bennoune commented on the conflict in Mali for a segment of the online talk show HuffPost Live. Entitled "Talks Not Tanks for Mali," the segment aired live on February 4 and is available for viewing online. Other guests included Boubacar Keita from the Association of Malians in Washington, D.C. and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Professor Bennoune, who visited Mali in December, talked about the various groups involved in the fighting in the northern part of the country, where Islamic fundamentalists took control last year, enforcing Sharia law on unwilling locals and threatening to advance southward until French and Malian forces intervened early this year. The intervention had popular support among many Malians, despite some criticisms, because they recognized that the fundamentalists were bent on imposing a way of life that is alien to them, she said.

"People in the north predominantly supported the intervention, and you see many people like the Egyptian economist Samir Amin who are normally anti-intervention, saying that in fact they believed intervention was necessary in these circumstances," she said. "However, they're also aware of the dangers of the intervention at the same time, and that there needs to be a follow-up strategy that involves development, empowering civil society on the ground, which is already very vibrant, and trying to meet human needs for food and water so that people can go back to their homes in the north. I think all of that is absolutely essential going forward."

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. She is the author of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism, forthcoming from W.W. Norton & Company in August.

HuffPost Live