But whatever you do, don’t call them “barbarians.”

Via The Independent:

The Malian Solidarity Bank is an ordinary-looking building that marks the centre of Timbuktu.

The concrete exterior is a little at odds with the signature dry-mud walls of the ancient city, and the cashpoint cubicle looks strangely modern with its reflective doors. They sit behind padlocked metal gates and the ATM has been out of service for nearly a year while it served as a women’s prison.

Salaka Djikke, like scores of other women, was locked in this cramped space for violating the fundamentalist form of sharia imposed on Timbuktu while the city was ruled by affiliates of al-Qa’ida. The 25 year old’s crime was to accept an evening ride on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle.

As they arrived at his house at around 10 o’clock at night, four members of the jihadi religious police rushed at them. In a panic, the boyfriend drove off on the bike leaving her to face them. The four men began shouting at her in Arabic, a language few in the city speak, while one of them slapped her and another lashed her with a whip. “I couldn’t understand what they were shouting and why they were whipping me,” she said.

Ms Djikke was taken to the bank which had been commandeered as the Islamic police headquarters and locked in the ATM cell. Unable to lie down she tried to sleep sitting against the wall opposite the auto-teller. [...]

Playing judge and jury, Mr Mossa sentenced Ms Djikke’s to 95 lashes to be administered in a public market. She felt helpless, she said. “They (the Islamists) could execute people or amputate limbs and no one could do anything.”

Sitting in the courtyard of her home in the backstreets of Mali’s most famous city, with her head covered by a white shawl embroidered with coloured flowers she spoke in a whisper of the pain and humiliation of her flogging: “I was really hurt. This will stay with me all of my life. I try to stay strong but I will never forget.”

She now believes that someone betrayed her to the Islamic authorities and admits that a small minority of her community has shunned her since. Before she was locked up in the ATM the jihadists had lectured her that it was a sin to be together with a man out of wedlock.