H/T Fredrik Eich for the news from Timbuktu that antismoking Islamists had been driven out of town, and people were happily smoking in the streets again.
Channel 4′s Lindsay Hillsum blogs about it here:
In recent months, the Islamist police in Gao have dragged suspected thieves and others to Sharia courts which have ordered the amputation of limbs and other punishments. Even smoking could earn you a flogging.
Her video report from Timbuktu is embedded in her blog post.
I thought she said that the locals would ask in shops for ‘secrets’ when they wanted a secret cigarette. But ‘secret’ is probably just the way they pronounced ‘cigarette’.
Human Rights Watch also reported:
One militiaman told Human Rights Watch: “Some on it [the list] are obvious because they took up arms and looted everything we worked for, or have been walking around beating people for smoking or not covering their heads. Others have collaborated – cooking, encouraging our children to join up. Do they think we don’t know who they are?”
Even the BBC gave it a brief mention.
But people are now able to go out.
People have freedom. People are happy. They can move about freely.
They are not under pressure.
People are smoking, people can do anything they want.
It must be disconcerting for Tobacco Control to see freedom and happiness linked so explicitly to smoking, and see themselves dimly reflected in that mirror as being no better than punitive Islamist fundamentalists.
But smoking has always been a symbol of freedom, and it always will be.
If you can’t sit in a cafe and drink a coffee and smoke a cigarette, you’re not free.
And today they’re free to do that in Timbuktu. They are more free than I am, for sure.
All of which made me grin wryly at this remark in an ex-smoker’s blog:
I hate smoke. I’m not one of those ex-smokers who thinks that all smokers should be sent to Timbuktu…
I wouldn’t mind being sent to Timbuktu at all.