A statement on heritage destruction in Mali

The Zanzibar Stone Town Heritage Society would like to add our voice to the growing number protesting the destruction of historic sites in Mali. The violence against the people of the region is condemnable, as is the destruction of mosques, shrines and other historical sites by militants.

Timbuktu was deemed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to its ancient mosques and shrines to Muslim saints. Reports say that half of them have been demolished since the violence began. These sites are important markers of our history and monuments to the history of Islam in Mali. The mausoleums and parts of mosques that have been destroyed did not encourage idolatry, as claimed by some armed groups who hold the sites, but reflection and understanding of the past.

We must agree with U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who said: “This is an assault not just on Mali but on the heritage of all Africans, and those responsible for these acts should be brought to justice.”

We offer our sincere condolences to our brothers and sisters in Mali, and hope this senseless devastation can be brought to an end swiftly. 

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