Ansar Dine, the Islamist group that controls Mali's north, destroyed historic tombs and damaged a mosque this weekend, saying the religious landmarks constitute idolatry.
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Islamists in northern Mali have drawn both domestic and international condemnation after they destroyed seven historic tombs and the door to an ancient mosque in Timbuktu over the weekend. The shrines to the saints are important to local Sufi Muslims, but Mali’s Islamists say that such religious landmarks constitute idolatry.
Mali has been unstable since a military coup sparked fighting in March. Much of the country is still in grave turmoil, with Islamist group Ansar Dine now in control of the north. In the face of such an uncertain future, the United Nations’ cultural agency just last week listed Timbuktu as an endangered world heritage site.
The group is already facing harsh international criticism for the attack, which is likely to result in alienation on the global stage, as happened to the Taliban in March 2001 when they blew up 6th century Buddha statues in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province.