On December 23 Islamists occupying northern Mali have destroyed again Timbuktu ancient mausoleums, promising to destroy all the tombs they consider places of “idolatry” .
The European Union reacted by the voice of the chief diplomat Catherine Ashton, “deeply shocked” by the destruction of these holy graves of Islam in this city’s flagship Islamic culture in Africa. She called for “urgent protection of the cultural and religious unique heritage ” on the continent.
Last July, the Islamists had destroyed many of these tombs in retaliation for a decision of UNESCO to include Timbuktu on the list of World Heritage in Danger.
They’re breaking all the mausoleums neighborhoods with pickaxes, “I saw the Islamists out of a car near the Grand Mosque in Timbuktu. Behind the house, they destroyed a mausoleum shouting Allah is great, Allah is great!” said one of the testifiers.
“There will not be a single mausoleum in Timbuktu, Allah does not like it, we are destroying all shrines hidden in the neighborhoods,” confirmed Abu Dardar, the leader of Ansar Dine (Defenders of Islam), the Islamist armed group occupying Timbuktu linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Alfoul Mohamed, who introduced himself as a member of AQIM in Timbuktu, justified the destruction saying that everything is not Islam, “is not good.” “Man must worship Allah only,” he said.
The destruction of the tombs of Timbuktu (northwest) in addition to hand amputations last Friday of two suspected thieves in Gao (northeast), in the name the name of “Sharia”, Islamic law. All this occurs after the unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council of a resolution authorizing phased and conditional military intervention in northern Mali in September 2013 to chase away Islamists who have occupied y the region for more than six months.
However, and despite the reservations of experts on the ability to mobilize quickly African army force, France – one of the Western powers that supports military intervention – stated that it could be launched in the first half of 2013.
At the same time, an Islamist group in Nigeria, Ansaru, claimed the abduction Wednesday in the north of the country of a French engineer Francis Colump, in retaliation for the “role” played by France in the preparation of international intervention Mali.
The number of mausoleums of Timbuktu, historic city is 333 saints, founded in the fifth century, but became the intellectual and spiritual capital of Islam throughout Africa in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
In July, the militant Ansar Dine and AQIM, which consider the veneration of saints as “the idolatry” had caused an outcry in destroying it first mausoleums in Timbuktu.
Last Friday, the Islamist Movement for the uniqueness and jihad in West Africa (Mujao) occupying Gao had amputated the hand of two suspected thieves, promising “soon” new amputations.
Since August, several other public amputations were committed in different locations in the north, not to mention hundreds of lashes of “illegitimate”couples, drinkers of alcohol, smokers, and other “deviant” according to Islamist groups besides the arrest of unveiled women at home.
Ansar Dine group consisting essentially of Islamist Touareg, has signed an agreement Friday in Algiers with the Tuareg rebellion secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which had launched the offensive in the north in January before being driven by the Islamists.
Both groups are committed to cease hostilities and to negotiate a political solution with Bamako, but Ansar Dine reiterated that he did not renounce Sharia in areas under its control.
About the author: Said Temsamani
Senior Fellow at the Meridian International Center and member of the National Press Club, Washington DC. Said Temsamani is a political analyst who follows events in Morocco and across North Africa.