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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, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


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Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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