Malian Islamists issued death threats against several senior Muslim religious leaders, including the country's best-known preacher.
"Chérif Ousmane Madani Haïdara has received numerous death threats by phone over the past several days, either directly or through those close to him," his aide Ousmane Diallo told AFP on Thursday (December 27th).
"It's the Islamists in the north who telephoned," Diallo said, adding that one of the callers told the cleric: "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."
Haïdara heads a Muslim association with tens of thousands of followers: Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith). His religious organisation bears the same name as the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamist group now occupying northern Mali.
"We have nothing to do with the Ansar al-Din of the north. We condemn their chopping off of hands. We condemn their Islam," Haidara previously told AFP.
Young Mali Muslims Union head Mohamed Macky Ba, Bamako imam Mahamadou Diallo and preacher Thierno Hady Thiam have also received death threats.