Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 6, 2013

Woman in Timbuktu punished for forbidden love

(Continued)

Would she please join him there, just for an hour, once a week?

She hesitated. He begged her, saying he couldn't be without her. They determined that the Islamic police stopped their patrols at 10 p.m.

She went once and got home safely. She went again.

They began meeting once a week. She insisted on staying no longer than 40 minutes. He brought her on his motorcycle, stopping close to the house and pushing the bike through a blanket of sand to avoid attention.

By this time, the Islamists were beating everyone from pregnant mothers and grandmothers to 9-year-olds for not covering themselves fully. A woman was no longer supposed to talk even to her own brother on the stoop of her house.

At a certain point Salaka knew they were going to get caught. She planned out what they would say.

In one version, she would say he was her uncle. In another she would call him her older brother. In yet another, they would try to pass off as a married couple.

On the night of Dec. 31, the two left Salaka's house on a motorcycle, headed west and turned onto Road No. 160.

They passed the bread oven belonging to one of her mother's competitors. They skirted an alley crowded with handmade bricks laid out to dry. They turned left, and then right again, taking a circuitous path to confuse anyone who might be following them.

When they got close, they chose the narrowest alleyways, used only by motorcycles and donkey carts instead of the Toyota pickup trucks of the Islamic police. They passed the house where they planned to meet and doubled back in an alley. He cut the motorcycle's engine, told her to stay 100 yards behind him and pushed the bike through the sand as usual.

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