Why else would you amputate your brother’s hand?

The New York Times gives us a snapshot into the Bamako region in Mali.

Moctar Touré was strapped to a chair, blindfolded, his right hand bound tight to the armrest with a rubber tube. A doctor came and administered a shot. Then Mr. Touré’s own brother wielded a knife, the kind used to slaughter sheep, and methodically carried out the sentence.

“I myself cut off my brother’s hand,” said Aliou Touré, a police chief in the Islamist-held north of this divided nation. “We had no choice but to practice the justice of God.”

Such amputations are designed to shock – residents are often summoned to watch – and even as the world makes plans to recapture northern Mali by force, the Islamists who control it show no qualms about carrying them out.

After the United Nations Security Council authorized a military campaign to retake the region last week, Islamists in Gao, Mr. Touré’s town, cut the hands off two more people accused of being thieves the very next day, a leading local official said, describing it as a brazen response to the United Nations resolution. Then the Islamists, undeterred by the international threats against them, warned reporters that eight others “will soon share the same fate.”

This harsh application of Shariah law, with people accused of being thieves sometimes having their feet amputated as well, has occurred at least 14 times since the Islamist takeover last spring, not including the recent vow of more to come, according to Human Rights Watch and independent observers.

But those are just the known cases, and dozens of other residents have been publicly flogged with camel-hair whips or tree branches for offenses like smoking, or even for playing music on the radio. Several were whipped in Gao on Monday for smoking in public, an official said, while others said that anything other than Koranic verses were proscribed as cellphone ringtones. A jaunty tune is punishable by flogging.

At least one case of the most severe punishment – stoning to death – was carried out in the town of Aguelhok in July against a couple accused of having children out of wedlock.

Take a moment and really ask yourself what are the odds that so many people would be amputating each others’ limbs or stoning them to death for having children without first engaging in the proper ceremony.  If the answer is close to zero, how do you not find faith culpable?  If there were a poison that made some people generous and turned others into murderers, who would argue that it was good for society, especially in the face of people pointing out the obvious fact that there are good reasons to be generous?

The people who say that Islam isn’t beautiful, rather than barbaric, because it doesn’t transform every believer into a monster like this, may as well say that drinking poison isn’t worrisome because it doesn’t kill everybody.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Azkyroth

    Well, gangrene.

    Though in this case, the gangrene is in the people around him.

  • Baal

    Sort of sounds like a distopian nightmare sci-fi novel.

    Neil DeGrass Tyson has a TAM speach called “brain droppings” where he mentions that Islam circa 1050 went from naming all the stars and having a start of the Renaissance until Imam Hamid Al-Ghazali said math was Satans work or somesuch and that was it. Game over, back to the iron age with you. It is at the 50 minute mark or so.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods Avicenna

    Why do you think I write under the name of Avicenna?

    Many muslims name hospitals after him but still support Sharia law (Avicenna loved his wine and beers).

    It’s like starting the Galileo Institute for Geo-Centric Research…

  • Robert Arnow

    Hey so, correction:
    Bamako is the capital city of Mali, is located in the southwest of the country, and (despite not being so hot politically right now) is DEFINITELY NOT overrun by Ansar Dine. There are still some troubling things going on in Bamako (lots of FGM, for instance). The reason the byline on the article says “Bamako” is that, were the reporter to actually go to Gao or other places in the north and east of Mali, they would probably be shot.

    For maps and more on the bullshit that’s happened in the last nine months, see the Wikipedia article on Azawad.

  • http://skeptomatisk.se/ Urban

    Sharia law is the Stanford prison experiment on a nationwide scale, with no one to pull the plug.

  • Andrew Kohler

    Koranic verses as cell tone rings!?!?!?!? You’d think that would be blasphemy (in which case I would encourage it). Indeed, I have a hard time seeing how anyone could rationalize any of this as remotely acceptable, just as I do not understand why people rush to defend the faith rather than the people having various body parts cut off, either as a barbaric penalty or as a custom. (And as Christopher Hitchens noted: isn’t it a bit odd that the creator of the universe made clitorises, labia, and foreskins if he was so hostile to them? Sort of like how he made gay people to persecute them.)

    I didn’t know Neil DeGrasse Tyson had a talk called brain droppings–that’s the title of one of George Carlin’s books!

  • Andrew Kohler

    *Cell phone, rather (although, cell phone ringtones may as well be abbreviated to cell tones…)