On April 6, 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) seceded from Mali unilaterally and declared an independent State of Azawad. The MNLA is a secular Tuareg movement whose goal is the establishment of a secular state in Azawad that will respect the rights of all ethnic groups in the region (Tuareg, Moors , Songhai and Peul). The MLNA has declared itself a partner of the West in the war on terrorism. However, despite its secular and pro-Western character, immediately after the secession the MNLA became the target of a smear campaign by international media, which tried to paint it as an Islamist movement. The campaign served the interest of the Malian government and of neighboring countries, which want to delegitimize the MNLA's struggle in order to avoid recognition of the State of Azawad.