France's military intervention in Mali is welcome news to the West African nation's tiny Christian population.
While they number no more than about 300,000 (out of a population of 15 million), Malian Christians have suffered terrible persecution since the military coup against the democratically elected government last March.
Islamic rebels known as Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) have advanced into the south from northern Mali, imposing their brand of Shariah law on the populace.Al Qaeda linked jihadists have joined them. Christians are singled out for death.
Ninety percent of Malians are Muslims and most get along well with Christians. Yet those who leave the Islamic faith to become Christian experience severe opposition from A.D., family members, and neighbors. Some former Muslims have been beaten, imprisoned, or killed.
Members of the Islamic terror group Ansar Dine are equal opportunity oppressors, forcing Sharia law on the entire population, not just the Christians. They've reportedly cut off the limbs of thieves, stoned adulterers, and beaten smokers and drinkers. Women residing in areas of A.D. control are required to cover their heads and wear veils.
They've also reportedly destroyed churches and murdered pastors and other believers in an effort to cleanse Mali of Christianity.
Some Africans claim France is taking military action only to perserve its control over Malian natural resources. Regardless of their motives, French military intervention may actually turn out to be a blessing to non-Islamists and Mali's beleagured Christians.