AK: In fact, we have looked at the needs of the country; we have questioned how the Aga Khan Network, with all its agencies, all its entities, could contribute to the development of Mali. And we have chosen a certain number of sectors: economic, cultural, social etc. We are progressing to put into place these programs and we have come to understand that the North of Mali had much difficulty to stay in touch with the remaining areas of the country, though the North has very unique assets, not only for Mali but for the entirety of the Muslim world.
TV5: How does it come into action specifically? You work on micro enterprises as well as cultural aspects?
AK: Everything, everything! In a region such as the North of Mali, there is agriculture, there is an extraordinary cultural heritage, so one has to work with these assets to fructify them.
TV5: We know the investment problems in the North of Mali, Mali is a region where terrorism can get a foothold, and at least this is what some people including the Americans think. Is a cultural development in that part of the country a way to develop an Islam which is more moderate and more open?
AK: You know, any community which feels isolated, which feels forgotten, which has lost hope, is a community that will search by any mean to reposition itself. And we have seen this in the North of Pakistan, we have seen it in the East of Tajikistan, We have seen it in Afghanistan. And these situations can be identified and that is what is important for me. One can not tell me that these situations are unknown, they are known! But no one gives them enough attention… The fact that they have not been resolved is the reason that these frustrations explode and explode in the name of religion but also of other objectives, not only religion.
The continuation of the interview was broadcasted the following days on TV5.
TV5 Comments: How to promote a more moderate Islam, that is the question that Armelle Charrier has asked the Aga Khan on the occasion of his visit to Bamako in Mali. The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.
AK: I think today, we should absolutely eliminate these situations, these roots and I am profoundly frustrated by the fact that these roots have existed for decades. They are not new and the fact that they have not been resolved is the reason that these frustrations explode and explode in the name of religion but also of other objectives, not only religion.
TV5: Fight against poverty and to promote development, is that for you exactly a solution to the growing extremism?
AK: That is one of the answers. Not the only one, but one of the answers. We are starting to understand today that the only true mean of ascertaining development is to invest in the human being. It is not the infrastructure, not the giant projects. It is to give to the human being, to human communities, the possibility to develop. I am trying to adapt the action of our agencies according to the situation in which we find ourselves. Obviously a post-conflict situation, for example Tajikistan, is completely different from what we find in other Muslim countries.
TV5: Is it that the fact verily of rehabilitating cultural assets, also allows in a context of globalization to keep the identity of people and places?
AK: Absolutely! It is first of all the identity of people, but also it is underlining the legitimacy and validity of pluralism.
TV5: Is it an emergency?
AK: Emergency? Emergency [yes]! But it can not be done because of poverty, difficulties that exist; it can not be done unless there is a quantifiable economic result.