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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

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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