Two policemen in civilian clothes erupted in my hotel one morning. It was early by Timbuktu police standards, that is to say, 9 o’clock.
One of them knocked at the door like a madman but without saying, “Police, open the door!” the way they do in films. His failure to announce himself as a police officer initially led me to think that it was a crazy person who was punching my door, so I did not hurry to get out of the shower to open. This made him even more nervous, judging by the increased rhythm of the punches on the door, but still he did not pronounce the magic words “Police, Open!” Later on, I asked them why they did not announce themselves, and they said: “If we say ‘Police,’ the people escape by the window.” Timbuktu seems to be like the Bronx! I thought that, when there is a place where everybody fears the police as in Timbuktu, either everyone is a criminal or the police are corrupt. Read more