samedi 16 juin 2012


Market near the Djenne mosque in Timbuktu

News coming from Mali are not encouraging. The west african country, one of the poorest in the world, has been suffering from drought and political instability for years. But now a darker shadow leans over. On April 2012 radical fighters allied to Al-Qaeda captured the ancient city of Timbuktu, a city also known as ``The Pearl of the Desert`` and one of Africa’s most important cultural heritage centers. In its hey day, around the XIII – XVI centuries, Timbuktu, rich from the salt, gold, ivory and slaves trade, became a thriving cultural and commercial center and the scholarly hub in Africa. The Sankoremadrassah, an Islamic university, the numerous Islamic scholars that taught and work there as well as an extensive book trading network made the city famous all through the Islamic world and Europe.
Timbuktu, in addition to the mosques and the many mausoleums, has over 30 000 ancient manuscripts spared into different collections that constitute the most important library of religious and civil life in the Sahara and an essential heritage of Islam and history.
So news couldn’t be worst for this beautiful and unique city as it deals with extremist violence. The tomb of Sidi Mahmoud, a renowned scholar from the 14 century revered by the local people as a saint has been desecrated, the front door of the mausoleum and its protective curtain have been burned and the people of Timbuktu who gather there every Friday for prayer were prevented from accessing it.
Mr. Elmehdi Ag Wakina, director of the local aid agency AMSS denounced to the press in London the systematic looting of schools, health clinics, banks and even solar panels used to drive machinery to draw water from wells in the city of 55,000’’.
One statue has been decapitated’’, he continued, “spiritual places of worship have been desecrated and other religions banned’’.  “The people of Timbuktu opposed the rebels but in the face of weapons there was not much they could do”.
We join UNESCO's appeal for the protection of the Malian Cultural Property and add our wishes and prayers for all parties involved in the conflict to ensure immediate protection of this World Heritage property, essential to preserving Mali’s rich culture, which is part of the indivisible heritage of humanity’’. 

The world heritage property covers Timbuktu’s three main mosques:
The Djingareyber mosque

The Sankore mosque

The Sidi Yahya mosque
and 16 cemeteries and mausolea.

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