On Sunday, the citizens of Timbuktu were once again powerless to stop the destruction of the city's famed mausoleums by Islamist militias. In the city of “333 saints”, the mood is one of resignation.
Video from our Observer Ousmane Ag Med Ousmane.
Three days after a UN vote specifying the terms of a military intervention in Mali's rebel-controlled north, members of the Islamist militia Ansar Dine destroyed the last mausoleums in the city of “333 saints” on Sunday, December 23.
In July, the same salafist militia had already pulverized seven of Timbuktu’s sixteen mausoleums and destroyed the door to the Sidi Yahya mosque. Two months before, the militia had destroyed and burned the tomb of the Muslim scholar Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar, one of the most respected Sufi saints.
These mausoleums hold the remains of saints and marabouts revered by Sufi Muslims. According to Mathieu Guidère, an Islamic studies expert, for centuries, the population has selected “pious, poor men” of “irreproachable morality” and turned them into “saints”. But these saints are considered heretical by radical Islamists.
On Friday, in neighbouring Algeria, the Ansar Dine movement pledged to negotiate a political solution with Malian authorities, but reaffirmed that it did not intend to renounce the application of Sharia law in the zones under its control.