The head of the Islamic Council in Bamako says rebels have 'no right' to take up arms and impose sharia law, supports French troops and good Christian-Muslim relations. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Morsi opposes the French incursion into west Africa.
Mail's top Muslim leader rejected the actions of Islamist foreigners in the north of his country and expressed outrage that they were trying to impose an alien version of Islam on a country that had been Muslim for a millennium.
In an interview published on Thursday, Imam Mahmoud Dicko, head of the High Islamic Council in Bamako, also defended France's military intervention.
"What right do they have to impose the sharia here?" Mr. Dicko asked in the interview in the Catholic daily La Croix.
"What right do they have to take up arms to tell us how to practice Islam in our country?
"Thank God (France) has intervened to protect us from those who wanted to conquer us and impose their way of living Islam."
Islamists in northern Mali have destroyed historic Muslim shrines, which they considered heretical, and imposed harsh punishments that they say sharia Islamic law demands such as stoning adulterers to death and chopping off thieves' hands.
The imam disagreed with Muslim leaders who have criticized France's support for the government in Bamako.
"They talk about a war against Islam and a new crusade by France," he said. "I'm against this talk from Egypt or Qatar. They are completely mistaken."