By Nouran El-Behairy
Ansar Dine, Malinese Salafist militants, have destroyed two shrines located in Timbuktu’s Djingareyber Mosque and the sacred door of the Sidi Yahia Mosque that dates back to the 15th Century.
News reports from the BBC and AFP state that Ansar Dine militants blocked two roads leading to the Djingareyber Mosque, firing warning shots to scare people away before smashing the historic Islamic monuments with shovels and pickaxes.
Sanda Ould Boumama, the group’s spokesman, told AFP, “Ansar Dine will today destroy every mausoleum in the city. All of them, without exception. God is unique. All of this is haram. We are all Muslims. UNESCO is what?”
The Islamist Group’s beliefs condemn the reverence of saints by the Sufis who built these shrines centuries ago. The destruction operations started on 1 July and resulted in the demolition of several of the 16 existing mausoleums. The move came just after UNESCO announced Timbuktu as an endangered world heritage site.
The UNESCO World heritage Committee convened on 2 July and called for the end of the destruction and demanded the creation of a special fund to help Mali conserve its historic Islamic monuments. The ICC also demanded the immediate halt to the demolition of shrines and threatened to take legal action against what it considers a war crime.
At the African level ECOWAS (economic community of West African states) has called on Mali to request a UN military intervention to restore control over the north and to form a National Unity Government by 31 July to end the crisis that has been ongoing since a Coup in April.