The Tuareg introduced Islam to West Africa from the 10th century.
French colonial rule brought southern Mali the institutions of modern government and economy, but the Tuareg were marginalised and left to themselves. The Tuareg rebelled frequently against the French, and against the post-colonial independent governments – four major Tuareg wars in Mali between 1962 and 2009.
Like other peoples whose homeland transcends international borders, the Tuareg have a ferocious nationalism. The secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2010 encouraged them to believe they can break away.
Al Qaeda radicals from the Middle East and Pakistan since 2003 encouraged them to believe that their land must be an Islamic Shari’ah state.
Amnesty International reports widespread murder and torture, abuse of rights, the employment of child soldiers, widespread violence against women and so on.
The outlook is a cocaine-fuelled, Al-Qaeda-inspired new state, devoted to the violent imposition of Islam on its neighbours and perceived enemies.
Timbuktu and Gao, now in Tuareg hands, were the centres of WorldShare’s partner ministries in Mali, where long-term work had helped many Malians find the love of Christ, and also receive practical help. Now, the Christian radio station, street children's work, vocational training and everything else is gone.
Church property has been looted and destroyed. Christians have fled for their lives. Tuareg bands search house-to-house for hidden Christian leaders. Shari’ah law is being violently imposed.
Christians have fled to Bamako and live as refugees, dependent on the charity of others. They don’t know how long they will be able to stay where they are, or how long they will have funds for food and other essentials. They are trying to find work, and education for their children. Church meetings are continuing; and they are trying to find ways to send help to those left in the north. They have no idea what the future holds.
An estimated 155,000 Malians have fled to other countries and are in great need. This can only exacerbate the severe food shortage being experienced over the region. However, our first goal is to support the Christians who are gathered in Bamako. It is most important that this remaining Christian community are able to remain as a witness in that poor country.
1. Please pray for your Christian brothers and sister in Mali. Pray that Christians will be able to remain in Mali. Pray for a just peace in Mali.
2. If you are able, please help our refugee fund, to sustain the refugee Christians in Bamako. We need at least £25,000 to sustain them over the next few weeks.