“These priceless manuscripts are my identity, they’re my history. They are documents about Islam, history, geography, botany, poetry. They are close to my heart, and they belong to the whole world.”
- Timbuktu Halle Ousmane Cisse mayor via NPR
The 2013 Destruction of the Ahmed Baba Institute Timbuktu Manuscripts
Since last spring, rebel fighters in Ansar Dine in Mali had seized the northern historical city of Timbuktu, imposing sharia law on the city’s residents and destroying several historical and cultural sites - including the destruction of 300 Sufi saints’ shrines while.
As joint French and Malian government troops advanced into Timbuktu to regain control of the city, in a final act of defiance, the rebels set fire to the newly-built South African-funded Ahmed Baba Institute, one of the many libraries that housed more than 20,000 invaluable scholarly manuscripts that ranged between the late 13th and the early 20th centuries which contained writings in Songhay, Tamasheq and Arabic on art, geography, science, medicine and calligraphy by the late Abbasid Caliphate.
This destruction is heartbreaking. And criminal.