February 26, 2013: When French and Malian troops liberated the major towns and cities of northern Mali recently they were shocked to discover how brutal the brief occupation had been. Tuareg rebels and Islamic terrorists were particularly brutal towards black African women. This should not be surprising because the Tuareg, Arabs, and Berbers have long considered the black Africans as inferior. Even after many black Africans converted to Islam, the common religion did not lead to much more respect. In Mali that has led to rape and slavery by the holy warriors in northern Mali.
This explains why there was so much brutality against Tuareg and Arab civilians in the north once the Malian and other black African troops arrived. It was largely revenge for how the local Arabs and Tuareg collaborated with the Tuareg rebels and al Qaeda forces. Some of the Islamic radicals were black Africans and they protested, with little effect, the abuse of the black African civilians.
This sort of thing is common in the region. Slavery still exists in Mauritania on the Atlantic and in Sudan on the east coast and in many places in between. The two decades of rebellion in Sudan provided many examples of this hostility between black Africans and Moslems from the north. To many of the lighter skinned northerners, the war in northern Mali was also about making this area safe and secure for the North Africans, even if it meant pushing the black Africans out. Some 90 percent of the Mali population is black African and lives in the south. But more and more of these people have been moving into northern Mali in the last century. Before that, many black Africans were enslaved and taken north by Tuareg and Arab raiders. In the last fifty years Arab, Tuareg, and black Africans learned to live together in peace in northern Mali, but that all came apart when the rebels drove out the Mali government, which is dominated by the black African majority.