|An Islamist militant celebrates and shouts "Allahu Akbar"|
(God is Greatest) after destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu (AFP/Getty Images)
By Elizabeth Kendal
The cultural heritage of Timbuktu -- destroyed
Having seized control of northern Mali, al Qaeda-linked jihadists are now destroying the cultural heritage of Timbuktu.
Reached by telephone in an undisclosed location in northern Mali, Ansar Dine spokesman Oumar Ould Hamaha told Associated Press: "The only tribunal we recognize is the divine court of Shariah. The destruction is a divine order. It's our Prophet who said that each time that someone builds something on top of a grave, it needs to be pulled back to the ground. We need to do this so that future generations don't get confused, and start venerating the saints as if they are God."
See: Islamistscontinue destroying Timbuktu heritage
By Rukmini Callimachi, Associated Press 2 July 2012
According to Reuters: "The UNESCO ambassadors meeting in St. Petersburg on Tuesday joined Malian Culture Minister Toure in appealing to global governments and organisations and 'all people of goodwill' to act to prevent the prevent the destruction of the Timbuktu monuments by 'vandals'. 'We consider this action to be a crime against history,' the appeal said.
"Experts are comparing the Timbuktu tomb destructions to similar attacks against Sufi shrines by hardline Salafists in Egypt and Libya in the past year. The attacks also recall al Qaeda attacks on Shi'ite shrines in Iraq in the past decade and the 2001 dynamiting by the Taliban of two 6th-century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Bamiyan in central Afghanistan."
See: Timbuktu tomb destroyers pulverise Islam's history
By Pascal Fletcher , Tue Jul 3, 2012
No-one should be surprised, for as history demonstrates, cultural destruction such as this is to be expected when Islamist take power.