Sidi Yahia Mosque In Timbuktu, A UNESCO Heritage Attacked By The Military

Sidi Yahia Mosque

Sidi Yahia Mosque

Bad news coming these days from Mali, shocked in recent months by the winds of war. According to eyewitnesses, some Islamic militants have attacked one of the most famous mosques in the beautiful and historic city of Timbuktu, bombarding the port of the 15 th century (the door of the resurrection) of the mosque of Sidi Yahia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of this African nation.

The group Ansar Dine, who is said to have ties to al-Qaeda, had taken control of the city, earlier this year. Unfortunately this group has deliberately destroyed many of the shrines of famous cities of the Sahara desert, saying that these buildings are at odds with a strict interpretation of Islam.

According to some estimates, nearly 90% of the mausoleums in the region, not in line with Islamic law, have been destroyed, since the Shariah does not allow the construction of tombs taller than 15 cm. But destroying this great historical and cultural heritage of Mali is nothing more than a War Crime. The United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO and the Government of Mali have invited the group of Ansar Dine campaign to stop this senseless destruction.

UNESCO has also expressed concern that many precious artifacts and manuscripts can be smuggled out of the region and urged neighboring countries to prevent this illegal market. The site of Sidi Yahia is one of the three great mosques of Timbuktu, and the door that was destroyed was sealed as leading to the sacred tomb of the saints.

Timbuktu owes its international fame both to its special position on the border of the driest areas of the Sahara, and its position as a center of Islamic culture, and to host three great mosques, costrite in the 15 th and 16 th century. Timbuktu is also known as “City of 333 Saints,” which originated in the Sufi tradition of Islam. The paramilitary group Ansar Dine has instead Salafi convictions, and condemned the cult of saints.

The group had taken control of Timbuktu in April, after a coup that had left the army in Mali in disorder. Initially the group worked with the Tuareg rebels who demand independence for centuries for the lands north of the desert of Mali, but recently the groups have clashed and the Islamist forces have taken control of the three main centers: North of Mali namely Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal.

Originally posted 2012-08-06 14:50:42.

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