Posts Tagged “ansar dine”

The tomb of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar in January 2008. Photo: Martha de Jong-LantinkA group of militant Islamists in Mali are carrying out a campaign against idolatry in Timbuktu and destroying treasured monuments in the process. They’ve been at it for a couple of days, as Reuters reports via the New York Times, and they aren’t letting up (locally-cached article):

Ignoring international calls to halt their attacks, Islamist militants in Timbuktu continued to smash the mausoleums of Sufi saints on Sunday, witnesses said.

The hard-line Salafi group Ansar Dine, which supports a puritanical version of Islamic law, consider the centuries-old Sufi shrines in Timbuktu to be idolatrous. About 30 militants armed with assault rifles and pickaxes destroyed three mausoleums on Saturday and three more on Sunday, witnesses said. The group said it planned to destroy all 16 of the city’s main shrines.

Unfortunately, the Mali government can do nothing to stop this; due to a civil war, they don’t have control of the region. UNESCO and other international interests have condemned the desecration, but no one appears inclined to do anything about it, just now.

Of course, this is not the first time Islamofascist thugs have destroyed monuments to sects or religions they despise. The article mentions sites Salafis have demolished elsewhere in the last year. The Taliban in Afghanistan also famously destroyed some Buddhist statues. So this kind of destructive religionism, unfortunately, isn’t without precedent in Islam.

Note that this is a sectarian struggle; Salafis and Sufis are all Muslims, even if they might, themselves, disagree on that.

Photo credit: Martha de Jong-Lantink, via Global Heritage Fund.

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