It is not often that I sing France's praises but once in a while, I allow myself to be proud to be French.
In March last year, a coup d'état in Mali allowed Muslim extremists, helped by the Touareg nomads, to seize power in that French-speaking African country.
The UN proved to be impotent to remedy to the situation. As the conflict went on, the Touaregs,
who have a legitimate cause to defend, were overpowered by the Islamists, who then imposed the "charia" law. People started to flee some regions of the country and take refuge where they could, like here in a mosque in Mopti.
The extremists started a state of terror, going into houses to check that women were veiled and imposing a strict separation of boys and girls in schools.
In some parts of the country, they cut off, in front of the crowds, the left foot and the right hand of people whom they considered to be thieves, then impaling the feet and hands amputated for the edification of the Malians. People caught smoking or drinking alcohol were flagellated in public and women who were considered adulteresses were lapidated.
They also destroyed sacred monuments and burned priceless ancient texts in Timbuktu.
Earlier this year, France took matters into their own hands and deployed the French army to reconquer the territory, helped by some African forces.
They managed to liberate the country almost entirely and put to back into place its rightful president.
Yesterday, François Hollande went there for a visit and was welcomed like a hero, which in a sense he was !
Though I am a fierce pacifist, I cannot but be proud of our soldiers, who managed to liberate people from a regime based on terror and the blind enforcement of a law funded on ignorance of the true meaning of the Scriptures. Everybody knows that there isn't one religion on Earth who advocates contempt for other human beings and the Malians are now free to go back to practising Islam in peace and respect.
So well done to our boys ! Let's hope that the situation goes on improving itself and that the country will be totally free very soon ! Let's also hope that the French hostages will be liberated !
I'll leave you with a photo of a French and a Malian soldiers united to guard the entrance of a mosque in Timbuktu, which if you're a blog follower, you'll know is one of my "Shangri-la" though I've never been there (and probably never will !). When weapons only serve to protect and allow people to practise their religion as they wish, we can only rejoice.
If only life showed us pictures like that more often ....
Let's love and respect each other !