Timbuktu and Gao have been liberated from the Jihadists in Mali, but the Jihadists are predictably beginning a campaign of terror with mines and IEDs.
The little girls of Timbuktu however are still afraid that the shadow of Islamist misogyny and oppression will return.
A leaflet listing the regulations for women under Islamist rule now lies in dirt here at the tribunal in Timbuktu. Rule No. 1: The veil should cover the entire body. Rule No. 4: The veil cannot be colored. And Rule No. 8: The woman should not perfume herself after putting on the all-enveloping fabric.
Several days after French special forces parachuted in and liberated this storied city, there is a growing sense of freedom. Though in the houses immediately facing the Islamic tribunal, many of the 8- and 9-year-old girls are still wearing the head covering.
“It is out of fear of the Islamists that they still wear this, says Diahara Adjanga, the mother of one girl said Thursday.”They hit everyone — even children.”
While there is some of the expected clucking about the retaliations carried by the oppressed people of Mali against the Jihadists and their Arab supporters, the anger among Mali’s women runs deep and with good reason.
Fatouma Traore, 21, said that there was one commander who was especially brutal to the women in Timbuktu.
“We don’t want the army to catch him. It’s the women who want to arrest him so that we can kill him ourselves. … Even if you’re talking to your own blood brother on the stoop of your house, they hit you. Even if you are wearing the veil, and it happens to slip off, they hit you. This man, Ahmed Moussa, he made life miserable for women. Even an old grandmother if she’s not covered up, he would hit her.”
She picks up her 1-year-old niece and hoists her on one hip, saying: “We even bought a veil for this baby.”
That’s a bit much even by Mohammed’s standards. The Prophet of Islam only went as low as six-year-olds.
Moussa Traore, a 26-year-old teacher in Timbuktu, said the sense of freedom already is overwhelming despite the uncertainty and security fears.
“We were totally deprived of our liberty. We couldn’t listen to music, we couldn’t play soccer. We couldn’t wear the clothes we wanted. We couldn’t hang out with the girls we liked,” he said. “Now we can do everything — we can listen to music, we can kick a ball, we can flirt. All I can do is say: Thank you God.”