AFP - Some 50,000 people joined a demonstration in Bamako's main stadium on Saturday to protest against legislation that would strengthen the rights of women in Mali.
They carried posters and banners declaring "No to this law that divides the people of Mali", "Let women remain women, and men remain men" and "Western civilisation is a sin."
The proposed new family law -- which replaces the words "paternal power" with "parental authority" and raises the legal age for marriage to 18 -- was adopted by the National Assembly at the beginning of August, but has yet to be signed into force by the president.
Imam Mamoud Diko, the head of Mali's High Islamic Council, which organised Saturday's protest rally, has appealed to President Amadou Toumani Toure not to sign the legislation in order to "maintain peace and order" in the nation.
Several demonstrations rejecting the legislation have already taken place in other town and cities across Mali.
Numerous veiled women were seen at Saturday's demonstration, where a religious leader regularly interrupted the chanting with cries of "respect God", to which the crowd responded "God is great."
At the end of the demonstration, leading imams and Muslim scholars issued a statement saying the new law "violates several articles of faith, teachings of the Koran and traditional values of the Malian people."
They said they had decided to boycott the lawmakers and non-governmental organisations who supported the legislation.
"We will not have anything more to do with them or their families ... They are traitors to Allah," they said.
Muslim organisations have in particular criticised the fact that religious marriages are not legally recognised under the new laws.
"We are asking all mosques to revive religious marriage as if nothing has happened," they said in their statement.
The legislation's chapter on succession is one of the most controversial. It stipulates that a child born outside of marriage is also entitled to a share of any inheritance.