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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Islam in Northern Mali and the War on Terror
Author:Gutelius, DavidISNI
Periodical:Journal of Contemporary African Studies
Geographic terms:Mali
United States
international politics
Religion and Witchcraft
Military, Defense and Arms
Politics and Government
External links:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02589000601157063
Abstract:One of the short-term objectives of the US war on terror in Africa has been fighting the spectre of Islamic radicalism in Mali and elsewhere in the Sahel. This article explores the Saharan front in this war from the perspective of those Malians caught up in it in the vicinity of or in the Sahara itself. One major theme is that representations of and public discourse on Islam have affected community associations, small NGOs, and social networks. The author argues that the impact of this war is intimately connected to longer-term processes at work in Malian society. Within a society which is overwhelmingly Muslim, poverty and restriction of access to resources are still the major dynamic. Since the liberalization of the 1990s, Islam has assumed a more prominent place by making use of new broadcast media and new community associations. It also looms large through the growing competition among leaders in the north and among Islamic NGOs. Northern leaders are increasingly using competing representations of orthodoxy and orthopraxy in claims to local authority and to Muslim funding from abroad. Since the northern rebellion in the late 1990s, Islam has become a site for contesting social status. The author believes the way in which the American government and its Malian counterpart are prosecuting the war is destabilizing rather than securing the north of the country. With the north branded a hotbed of potential political extremists, leaders across such ethnic groups as Tuareg and Moors have defied the government and its allies in their attempts to stop trans-Saharan smuggling. This has cultivated fertile ground for rhetoric and rumour. Muslim leaders shape their messages and strategies around access to scarce resources and political power. In fact, instead of building up the Malian State, the US has actually been undermining opportunities to build local capacity, and missed the boat in working cooperatively with key leaders in the north. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]