While it might not yet resemble the allied liberation of Holland during the Second World War, people in Mali are no less enthusiastic about the arrival of French troops there last week.
Malians are showing their thanks by displaying “le tricolore,” gushing in newspaper editorials and even donating blood to ensure the wounded are well cared for.
Peter Tinti writes in the Christian Science Monitor that French flags are selling out in the markets of Bamako, the capital city.
“Normally, Malian attitudes towards France, which once ruled the country as a colony, range from resentment to admiration,” Tinti said. “But when France launched a bombing campaign against Islamist rebels in central and northern Mali last week, French flags bloomed around the capital Bamako almost instantaneously.”
Newspaper editors and bloggers alike are proclaiming the French troops as heroes and declaring French President Francois Hollande one of their own, “Hollande le Malien” an editorial suggested.
The Guardian reports that the front page of one prominent paper there simply reads, “Vive La France!” while another welcomed “the outstretched hand of France in our country.”
There’s little difference on the streets.
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Malians reportedly took up a collection for a French helicopter pilot killed in action, while hundreds lined up to donate blood.
“The French have saved us: may Allah save them,” 76-year-old Ahmadou Sogodogo told The Telegraph.
“Without the French, our enemies would have been in Bamako by now, Allah forbid. If the French soldiers were not here, we could do nothing against these people.”
About the only question Malians have is, “What took you so long?” Mali had long asked for international help controlling the extremists as they took control in the north.
“I decided to hang a French flag next to the Malian flag to show I’m in favor of the military intervention by France,” Abdourahamane Abidine told USA Today. “It’s a way to support the French troops.”
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