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Mali, UNESCO Plead for Help

Published: July 4, 2012 (Issue # 1716)



  • Malian Culture Minister Fadima Toure Diallo (l) stands with Daniel Rondeau, Frances UNESCO ambassador, at the Bronze Horseman monument Tuesday as she makes an emotional appeal for the preservation of heritage being destroyed in Timbuktu.
    Photo: DMITRY LOVETSKY / AP

An emergency appeal was made in St. Petersburg on Tuesday during which ambassadors from UNESCO and the Malian Minister of Culture called for the worlds governments and international organizations not to allow vandals to wipe out historical monuments in the Malian city of Timbuktu.

UNESCO representatives, who read out the appeal in English, Russian, French, Arabic and Spanish in front of the citys famed Bronze Horseman monument, described the destruction being carried out by Islamist extremists as a crime against history.

This is one of the most ancient African temples which is disappearing, UNESCO representatives, who were gathered in the city for the 40th anniversary of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, said in the appeal.

The Malian Minister of Culture, Diallo Fadimo Toure, who struggled to hold back tears, thanked the world for its solidarity and sympathy, saying that the destruction of such a unique and sacred place as Timbuktu would be a huge loss for all of Africa and the world.

Eleonora Mitrofanova, head of the World Heritage Committee, said Malis culture minister is also worried about the condition of the ancient manuscripts that are preserved in the area as the destruction could disturb the controlled conditions under which they are kept.

Ali Ould Sidi, head of the Timbuktu Cultural Mission, said the Malian people were being attacked in their hearts and souls by what is being done to their historical monuments.

Last week UNESCO accepted Malis request to put Timbuktu on the list of World Heritage sites that are in danger. In response, Islamic extremist groups destroyed three sacred tombs with pickaxes, UNESCO said.

Muslim extremists continued destroying heritage sites in the ancient city of Timbuktu on Monday, razing tombs and attacking the gate of a 600-year-old mosque, despite a growing international outcry, The Associated Press reported.

The International Criminal Court has described the destruction of the citys patrimony as a possible war crime, while UNESCOs committee on world heritage was holding a special session this week to address the pillaging of the listed site.

The Islamic faction, known as Ansar Dine, or Protectors of the Faith, seized control of Timbuktu last week after ousting the Tuareg rebel faction that had invaded northern Mali alongside Ansar Dines soldiers three months ago. During the weekend, fighters screaming Allah Akbar descended on the cemeteries holding the remains of Timbuktus Sufi saints, and systematically began destroying the six most famous tombs.

Reached by telephone in an undisclosed location in northern Mali, a spokesman for the faction said they do not recognize either the United Nations or the world court.

The only tribunal we recognize is the divine court of Shariah, said Ansar Dine spokesman Oumar Ould Hamaha, the AP reported.

The destruction is a divine order, he said.

Its 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 dont get confused, and start venerating the saints as if they are God.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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