Timbuktu Shrines Trial: Why the Destruction of Cultural Heritage is History Repeating Itself

07 Mar 2016 7:33 AM | Anonymous

Timbuktu Shrines Trial: Why the Destruction of Cultural Heritage is History Repeating Itself

By John Darlington On 3/5/16 at 2:00 AM

On Tuesday, alleged Malian jihadi leader Ahmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi appeared at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for a hearing on whether he should be put on trial for destroying part of the North African country’s rich cultural heritage.

Al-Mahdi is accused of overseeing the destruction in 2012 of medieval mausoleums and the Sidi Yahia mosque, which formed part of Timbuktu’s World Heritage Site. Al-Mahdi is the first suspect in the ICC’s history to potentially face prosecution for attacks against cultural heritage as opposed to direct humanitarian reasons.

The reasoning for Al-Mahdi’s alleged acts of cultural destruction? Because the targets were places of Sufi veneration and worship, considered by Islamist extremists to be a blasphemous affront to their view of Islam. Other purges saw the destruction of books and manuscripts that define Timbuktu’s place in history as a focus for learning and scholarship. 

http://www.newsweek.com/timbuktu-shrines-international-criminal-court-433384