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Religious re-orientation in Southern Mali

Project manager

Cooperating researchers

Massa Coulibaly

Commissioned by

MFA, Peace and Reconciliation




January 2014
September 2015

The project is a study of religious reorientation and Muslim revival in southern Mali. While the increasing significance of radical Salafist Islam in the north of the country is well known, this project seeks to understand religious reorientation in the South, where Islam in recent years has become increasingly significant in the public space. The project addresses questions concerning secularism and people's perceptions about religion, politics and gender. 

Religious reorientation is an intrinsic part of the development of conflicts in Mali, and may act both as a hindrance and a resource for reconciliation efforts and peace building in Mali following the July and August democratic elections and the inauguration of President Keita’s new government in September 2013.

The main aim of the project is to increase the understanding of the characteristics and politics of Muslim groups in Southern Mali. Also, the project aims to explore the extent to which religious reorientation excludes women from social and political processes.



Sommerfelt, Tone & Kristin Jesnes. 2015. State control of religious activity in southern Mali following the 2012 crisisNorwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre. Oslo: NOREF. 

Sommerfelt, Tone, Anne Hatløy and Kristin Jesnes. 2015. "Wahhabiyya paranoia in Bamako and the new intolerance of the tolerant". The Broker, op. ed. published July 10th 2015.