Sunday, July 1, 2012


Bamako (AFP) - Islamist rebels in northern Mali took hoes and chisels to the tombs of ancient Muslim saints in the city of Timbuktu for a second day, ignoring international pleas to halt their campaign of destruction. After smashing three ancient tombs on Saturday, the Islamist militants who consider the World Heritage shrines idolatrous, set about wrecking four mausoleums at the cemetery of Djingareyber.  Mali's government and the international community have expressed horror and outrage at the destruction of cultural treasures in the fabled city, an ancient desert crossroads and centre of learning known as the "City of 333 Saints". 
On Saturday the Islamists destroyed the tombs of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Moctar and Alpha Moya, and on Sunday attacked Cheikh el-Kebir's mausoleum as residents stood by helplessly. Crying "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great), the men circled the cemetery clasping tools such as chisels and hoes, but did not have construction vehicles that were used in Saturday's rampage.  "There are many of us watching them destroy the mausoleum. It hurts but we can't do anything. These madmen are armed, we can't do anything but they will be cursed that is for sure," said a journalist on condition of anonymity.

The cemetery is situated in the south of Timbuktu in the suburb of the eponymous Djingareyber mosque built in 1327. In addition to three historic mosques, Timbuktu is home to 16 cemeteries and mausoleums. The Islamist fighters from Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) are among the Al-Qaeda-linked armed groups which occupied the north of Mali in the chaos that emerged after a March coup in Bamako. "God is unique. All of this is haram (forbidden in Islam). We are all Muslims. UNESCO is what?" a spokesman for Ansar Dine, Sanda Ould Boumama, said on Saturday. He said the group was acting in the name of God and would "destroy every mausoleum in the city. All of them, without exception". Mali's Culture and Tourism Minister Diallo Fadima Toure on Sunday urged the UN to take action to preserve her country's heritage. 
UNESCO session chairwoman Yeleonor Mitrofanova told a meeting in Saint Petersburg that the destruction was tragic. "I appeal to all those engaged in the conflict in Timbuktu to exercise their responsibility - for the sake of future generations, spare the legacy of their past," she said. In a matter of months Mali has gone from one of west Africa's stable democracies to a nation gripped by deadly chaos.

Al Qaeda-linked Mali Islamists swinging pick-axes and shouting God's praise destroyed centuries-old mausoleums of Muslim saints in the UNESCO-listed city of Timbuktu in front of shocked locals. The attacks were reminiscent of the Taliban blowing up the giant Buddhas of the Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan - an ancient Buddhist shrine on the Silk Road and a world heritage site - in 2001 after branding them “un-Islamic”. Acceptable interfaith and tolerance are possible only by respecting the sentiments of believers of every religion.

Tolerance: This is the slogan for all interfaith movements. Even though known to common sense, clear instructions regarding the qualified targets, intensity and response methodology of tolerance are not available. (1) The problem with the tolerance advocates is that they assiduously preach tolerance to the reactors without emphasising the actors to feel free within the tolerable limits. Tolerance is a decent bilateral communication, which cannot be extended in situations of intentional non reciprocation and adversity. (2) Tolerance has its merit only in suitable grounds, where it is designated as magnanimity. In a case of excessive tolerance, shown when the dignity and pride of the culture and nation is butchered, it is named as “shamelessness”. (3) Tolerance because of inability is cowardice and tolerance towards heinous elements is betrayal to one's own conscience and the society. Interfaith organisations should promote this regal tolerance among its subjects.

Śrīla S.A.R. Prasanna Venkatachariar Chaturvedi Swamy :
Acarya of Ramanuja Sampradaya
“International Conference on Interfaith”
“Culture, Philosophy, Literature and Religion” 2009, Mumbai, India.

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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