Segments in this Video

Tuareg Predicament (02:33)


The Toureg have a rich history and culture, but are caught between jihadists and a government that does not respect agreements. The West must help them to fight terrorism.

Mali's Indigenous People (03:48)

More than 3.5 million Tuareg live in the Sahara; they are called the "blue" people due to clothing dye tinting their skin. Mamatel ag Dahmane drives to his family's encampment north of Timbuktu. Women are respected; hear about gender roles.

Tuareg Culture and Poverty (04:01)

Learn about the roles of griots, bellas, and protectors. Herds are decimated by drought and the Malian government is not developing the north. Mamatel's sister died because she could not reach the hospital in time. The Malian ambassador says infrastructure is a problem in general.

Excluded from Development (04:03)

Salah ag Mohamed Alher's father is a village chief struggling to provide food and medicine for his people. Local schools lack government support and many children leave the community. The Timbuktu mayor says he will help individuals; Mamatel says he needs to help the Tuareg as a group.

Cultural Preservation vs. Modernization (03:21)

Mamatel travels to Bamako seeking help for his people. NGO workers say there are hundreds of ethnic groups needing support; the Tuareg will be forced to modernize. Salah's father wants him to remain traditional but there is no access to education in the desert.

Damaging Colonial Policies (03:20)

The French split the Tuareg among five nations, restricted their movement, ended long distance trade caravans, and implemented taxes that hurt their economy. They were refused autonomy after independence and have been politically disenfranchised by corrupt national leaders.

Mali Land Privatization (02:11)

Foreign companies have been buying Tuareg territory for mineral resources. Funding for development projects is lost to corruption. Economic ruin and weak governance have allowed drug traffic and terrorist networks to proliferate.

Tuareg Rebellions (03:08)

The Mali government has been complicit in the drug trade and leveraged militias to subdue Tuareg resistance, including massacring civilians. Policies marginalize the ethnic group economically and politically.

Ignoring the Al-Qaeda Threat (03:13)

Mali opened to tourism in 1999; the Tuareg prospered until terrorists kidnapped Westerners in 2003. The Malian military agreed to help U.S. counter-terrorism efforts but targeted the Tuareg; the real terrorists have since proliferated.

National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (02:26)

Gaddafi recruited Tuaregs; after his fall they returned to Mali and organized to fight for independence. View a map of MNLA claimed territory. A rebel explains his motivations for armed resistance. Mamatal's father says most Tuaregs are peaceful.

Islamic Militant Takeover (03:28)

Mali soldiers attempted a coup in response to government failure to suppress the MNLA. Al-Qaeda militants moved into Bamako and Gao, declared Islamic law, and looted public institutions. Tuareg fighters clashed with both groups and were sidelined. View footage of a teenager whipped for smoking.

Fleeing Al-Qaeda (03:35)

Ansar Dine is establishing a base in Mali to implement Sharia throughout North Africa. Over 300,000 Tuareg refugees have fled to neighboring countries. Salah's family enters a UNHCR camp in Burkina Faso where they face ethnic discrimination.

Racial and Ethnic Conflicts (02:46)

As UNHCR camps exceed capacity, Tuareg refugees face food shortages. Mali officials promise they have not been forgotten but Malian soldiers kill Tuareg civilians in the desert and target light skinned people.

War on Terrorism in Mali (03:47)

France begins airstrikes to root out Al-Qaeda; the U.S. starts to show interest. Experts agree that Tuareg grievances must be addressed to unify Mali against Islamic extremists and develop and stabilize the region. Mamatel hopes his culture can survive.

Threats to Tuareg Existence (01:29)

Mamatel has not been seen since the Al-Qaeda crisis began. Salah contracted malaria in the Burkina Faso refugee camp, his family faced ethnic discrimination, and their possessions were stolen. Without protection, the Saharan culture will disappear.

Credits: Behind the Blue Veil (02:28)

Credits: Behind the Blue Veil

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Behind the Blue Veil

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The Tuareg people of the Sahara Desert are one of the world's last truly nomadic tribes. But their way of life is now under greater threat than ever before, from economic exploitation, from environmental catastrophe, from the scorn of their own government, from Islamist militants, and perhaps most of all from the relentless march of modernity. This revealing film documents the remaining fragments of Tuareg culture and examines a people's struggle for survival from a variety of perspectives.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL118346

ISBN: 978-1-63521-745-2

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video customers.