Radical Islamists controlling the north in Mali have sent death threats to several senior Muslim chiefs in the country, officials said Thursday.
One of the people to receive the threats is Cherif Ousmane Madani Haidara, who heads a Muslim association that groups tens of thousands of followers.
Haidara “has received numerous death threats by phone over the past several days, either directly or through those close to him”, said close aide Ousmane Diallo.
“It’s the Islamists in the north who telephoned,” he charged, adding that one of the callers said: “We are going to kill you because you want nothing to do with our Islam… we are going to kill you because you don’t want sharia in Mali.”
Haidara heads a Muslim association called Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith), which is the same name as one of the radical Islamist groups that have seized control of the north of the country following a March coup.
While most of Malian Muslims follow the Sufi brand of Islam, the Islamists controlling the north adhere to the radical Wahhabi tradition.