“Tuaregs don’t represent the majority of the people living in northern Mali”
The idea of a video Facebook page was launched by Said Abderrahim, a Malian friend who also lives in Paris. We noticed that since the start of the political crisis, MNLA leaders have gotten a lot of media coverage. They took advantage of the political void created by the coup – for a while, there were no official government spokespeople.We wanted to give ordinary Malians a voice. So far, we’ve received over 300 video testimonies. Most are posted by members of the Malian diaspora, but also by people living in Mali – even people from the north of the country! We ultimately aim to compile all of these videos and spread them on social networks, and hopefully also on Malian television.What we want is for people to understand that Tuareg rebels aren’t representative of the entire population, and are not even representative of the north of the country. The north is also home to Songhai and Soninke minorities, members of the Peulh majority, and Arabs and Tuaregs who don’t support the MNLA.Northern Mali’s independence would have catastrophic consequences on all of Western Africa. As soon as Tuareg rebels began making headway in northern cities, they were immediately followed by radical Islamists aiming to impose Sharia law in the region. The MNLA isn’t strong enough to keep them in check. Northern Mali would become a base for armed groups from around the continent, from the fundamentalist Boko Haram sect in Nigeria to members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and former mercenaries for Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.We hear that the Malian army is worthless, but that’s not true. Of course, it suffers from equipment shortages. But we also have to take into account that rebels in the region are holding French hostages, so former president Touré wasn’t completely free to fight rebels in the north. It would be a mistake to underestimate the army now that the government is back on its feet again.