Timbuktu’s Destruction: Why Islamists Are Wrecking Mali’s Cultural Heritage

03 Jul 2012 9:01 AM | Anonymous

Timbuktu’s Destruction: Why Islamists Are Wrecking Mali’s Cultural Heritage

Ansar Dine, a radical Islamist militia, has set about destroying mausoleums and shrines in the historic Malian city of Timbuktu, which was once a great center of Islamic learning in the 15th and 16th centuries
AFP / Getty Images
A video still showing Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu, Mali, on July 1, 2012

It was a singular, defining act of barbarism, beamed out live for the world to see. In March 2001, Taliban fighters and grandees clustered around the famed giant statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province, laid explosives at their feet and blew them up. The extremists’ shadowy leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, lauded the destruction of the two towering 6th century monuments: “Muslims should be proud of smashing idols. It has given praise to God that we have destroyed them.”

Similar language and zeal was on air Monday when news emerged of an Islamist faction in Mali desecrating a number of tombs in the ancient city of Timbuktu, which in recent months fell under control of a separatist insurgency. “The destruction is a divine order,” said a spokesman from Ansar Dine, a radical outfit with alleged links to al-Qaeda. According to reports, the militants have set about tearing down centuries-old mausoleums of Muslim holy men in Timbuktu, a Saharan crossroads known in lore as “the city of 333 saints” and long a fabled destination for backpacking tourists. UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural agency, says as many as half of the city’s shrines “have been destroyed in a display of fanaticism.”



Read more: http://world.time.com/2012/07/02/timbuktus-destruction-why-islamists-are-wrecking-malis-cultural-heritage/#ixzz1zZ1vaPkM

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