The New York Times reported yesterday on the application of a harsh version of sharia law in northern Mali. Since the Islamist takeover of the region last spring, at least 14 people convicted of theft have had their hand amputated as punishment. Some cases involve theft of guns for use in helping Mali to retake the north. The article has a particularly brutal description of amputation of the hand of the brother of the police commissioner of Gao. One case of a couple being stoned to death for having children out of wedlock has also been reported. Dozens of others people have been publicly flogged with camel-hair whips or tree branches for smoking in pubic or playing music on the radio. Also, only Koranic verses can be used as cell phone ring tones. Trials are rudimentary, and sentences are often carried out quickly.