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North African Salafists Turn on Sufi Shrines in Mali | REF World - May 18, 2012 |

The Salafist war on the physical legacy of Sufi Islam has opened a new front in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu, home to a number of ancient mosques and the famous tombs of 333 Islamic "saints." [UNESCO world heritage site]

The May 5 attack on the tomb of Sidi Mahmud Ben Amar (1463-1548) confirmed the fears of many in Mali that the Salafist Ansar al-Din occupiers of Timbuktu would turn their energies towards the destruction of the city's religious heritage. The attackers prevented worshippers from approaching the tomb before tearing off its doors, breaking windows and setting flammable portions on fire. One man who attempted to stop the destruction was bound and forced into a car (al-Jazeera, May 7).

The men were reported to have told shocked onlookers: "What you are doing is haram! [forbidden]. Ask God directly [for intervention] rather than the dead." Before leaving they promised to destroy other tombs in the city (Reuters, May 5). An Ansar al-Din spokesman described the leader of the attack as a "new member" of the group (a Mauritanian according to some sources) and suggested that his actions would be investigated (al-Jazeera, May 7).

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Aug 8th, 2023 at 05:27:07 PM EST
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