Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Sacred Sufi Shrines Destroyed By Islamists In Mali

In northern Mali last week, the Islamist (and Al-Qaeda allied) Ansar Dine ("Defenders of Faith") ousted the Tuareg MNLA rebels from the famed town of  Timbuktu. As reported by AFP, even though the Tuareg rebels spearheaded the takeover of northern Mali by various opposition groups last March, now the Islamists have moved to take over control. Then, over the weekend, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Ansar Dine destroyed seven historic tombs and the door to an ancient mosque in Timbuktu. These sites were already on UNESCO's heritage danger list. The tombs are sacred shrines for local Sufi Muslims, but the Islamist say that they amount to idolatry. The International Criminal Court quickly issued a statement calling the destruction a potential war crime. ABC News has more detail on the holy places that were destroyed. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called the destruction the work of "bigoted extremist elements." An AFP report dated Wednesday says that Economic Community of West African States has 3,300 troops ready to enter Mali, but it is awaiting either a U.N. resolution authorizing their use, or a stronger unity government in Mali that can request the troops.