Bamako, August 22, 2012 (AFP)
Islamist extremists occupying northern Mali on Wednesday banned all music except the singing of Quranic verses on private radio stations, in line with sharia, the strict Islamic law they are enforcing.
Whether Madonna, Rihanna or Youssou Ndour, all non-Muslim lyrics have been declared Satanic.
“We, the mujahideen of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal from now on refuse the broadcasting of all western music on radios on Islamic land,” said Oussama Ould Abdel Kader, a spokesman for the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).
He was referring to the three administrative regions under the control of various al-Qaeda-linked armed Islamist groups for the past five months in a region larger than France.
Kader said the ban took effect on Wednesday, adding that “sharia demands it.”
“We have already spoken to people who own the radio stations. We no longer want Satan’s music. Instead there must be verses of the Koran. Western music is Satanic music.”
MUJAO is in control of the Gao region, however Kader said he was speaking for all the armed groups, which include Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith).
Both are acting under the aegis of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). They seized control of the north in the wake of a military coup on March 22 which plunged the west African nation into crisis.
In recent weeks the Islamists have stepped up the application of sharia, stoning an unmarried couple to death and cutting off the hand of a thief. Smoking and drinking is banned and women have to cover their heads.
Radio station managers contacted by AFP said they could do nothing about the order.
In early August a radio presenter was badly beaten by MUJAO fighters for reporting on a protest against their first effort to amputate the hand of a thief.