Following in the footsteps of the Taliban, whose destruction of a World Heritage site is now legendary, members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have desecrated a saint’s tomb in the fabled city of Timbuktu, an act condemned by Malian authorities as “unspeakable.”
From AFP/Al Arabia: “Members of AQIM, supported by (the armed Islamist group) Ansar Dine, have destroyed the tomb of Saint Sidi (Mahmoud Ben) Amar. They set fire to the tomb,” an official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that they had pledged to destroy others too.
Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site and cradle of Islamic learning, has been under the control of AQIM and Ansar Dine since the groups took advantage of a March 22 coup to take control of northern Mali.
Sometimes called the city of 333 saints, Timbuktu is also home to nearly 100,000 ancient manuscripts, some dating to the 12th century, preserved in family homes and private libraries under the care of religious scholars.
Beyond its historic mosques, the World Heritage site comprises 16 cemeteries and mausoleums, according to the UNESCO website.
It was also a renowned center of Islamic scholarship, with manuscripts written in Arabic and Fulani by scholars of the ancient Mali Empire, covering a range of subjects including Islam, history, astronomy, music, botany, genealogy and anatomy.
There is a long history of Islamic invaders appropriating, defacing, or destroying the religious items and sites of other faiths they come across. This time AQIM are attacking their own history. What little that isn’t glossed over or re-written already to their liking anyways.