Malian soldier beats man for 'having a beard'
Aldjoumati Traoré, 70. Mehdi Chebil / France 24His white beard turned red as the soldier’s belt repeatedly lashed his head. Dressed in a long khaki-coloured tunic, traditional among the shepherds of northern Mali, the barefoot and terrified man tried to run away from his persecutor, but to no avail. Finally, other soldiers stepped in and convinced him to stop beating the elderly man.
Foreign reporters covering the Mali operation watched the violent scene play out in shock and horror. “No photos! Get away!” an army captain shouted, forcing the journalists to back away.
The scene unfolded last week in Diabaly, a city in central Mali that was reclaimed by French and Malian troops on January 21. The war against Islamist rebels has since moved north. A few days after the incident, FRANCE 24 returned to Diabaly to find the elderly victim.
His story belongs to an apparently growing list of ethnic reprisals on those suspected of having collaborated with the Salafist fighters that overran northern Mali last year, a situation that has cast a shadow over the much-hailed joint French-African effort to rout al Qaeda in the troubled country.
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