A Malian in the United States Reflects on the War in His Homeland

The Takeaway

Born and raised in Mali, Assoumane Maiga  traveled to the United States as a Fulbright scholar at Oklahoma State University in 2009, and returned to his home in Timbuktu after receiving a master’s degree.
Upon his return, Maiga spoke out about humanitarian crises in his hometown, giving interviews to the international press and posting on social media. At the time, Mali had a democratically-elected government, but the Malian military, nervous about Maiga’s activism, arrested Maiga and imprisoned him for four days. Upon his release, Maiga decided to leave Mali once again, and enrolled in a doctoral program in Agricultural Education at Oklahoma State University.  
In the wake of the Malian military coup in March 2012 and the subsequent rebel takeover of northern Mali, Maiga sent his wife and children out of the country, but he still has a number of family members in Timbuktu and in the South. Maiga says that the rebel takeover of the North has radically changed Timbuktu, as the rebels have implemented Sharia law, amputating hands and feet of suspected criminals. One couple who engaged in sex outside of marriage was reportedly stoned to death.
France has now  intervened in the Malian conflict, bombing rebel-held areas in the North. Maiga waits for news of his family in Timbuktu, and hopes for their safety.

Nigerian general Shehu Abdulkadir (seen from back) commanding the ECOWAS forces in Mali, attends a meeting by ECOWAS chiefs of staff on January 15, 2013 in Bamako. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

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