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jerryking : timbuktu   7

Found in Timbuktu: al-Qaeda’s manifesto for Africa - The Globe and Mail
Rukmini Callimachi

TIMBUKTU, Mali — The Associated Press

Published Thursday, Feb. 14 2013

The more than nine-page document, found by The Associated Press in a building occupied by the Islamic extremists for almost a year, is signed by Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, the nom de guerre of Abdelmalek Droukdel, the senior commander appointed by Osama bin Laden to run al-Qaida’s branch in Africa. The clear-headed, point-by-point assessment resembles a memo from a CEO to his top managers and lays out for his jihadists in Mali what they have done wrong in months past, and what they need to do to correct their behaviour in the future.
Timbuktu  Mali  Africa  al-Qaeda 
february 2013 by jerryking
Timbuktu Training Site Shows Terrorists' Reach - WSJ.com
February 1, 2013 | WSJ | By DREW HINSHAW.
Timbuktu Training Site Shows Terrorists' Reach
Nigerians Flooded to al Qaeda-Linked Camp in Mali, Locals Say, Drilling With Shoulder-Fired Arms
Timbuktu  Mali  France 
february 2013 by jerryking
Priceless manuscripts missing in Timbuktu - The Globe and Mail
GEOFFREY YORK

JOHANNESBURG — The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Jan. 28 2013
Timbuktu  Mali  Geoffrey_York 
january 2013 by jerryking
When terrorists destroy books - The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Dec. 30 2012

The threat from Islamic extremists to the irreplaceable manuscripts and monuments of Timbuktu is one of several reasons why it is unfortunate that a military force authorized by the United Nations Security Council to recover northern Mali for the government of that country, based in Bamako, will not be ready until September, 2013.

Members of a group calling itself Ansar al-Din, allied to even worse factions such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, have already destroyed numerous monuments to Muslim holy men. The door of one 15th-century mosque has been deliberately wrecked. The extremists are Wahhabis, followers of an 18th-century movement, who believe that Sufism, a form of Islam with mystical elements, is a grave heresy and that the veneration of saints is polytheistic and idolatrous. Just such a destruction of shrines took place in the 20th century when the Saudi family conquered most of the Arabian peninsula....The UN World Heritage Committee has passed a resolution to set up an emergency fund to safeguard Mali’s cultural heritage. It would be fanciful to suggest that the responsibility-to-protect doctrine could be extended to old books. This legacy will survive only if the international community recognizes its strategic interest in restoring the Malian government’s power in the north.
extremism  Wahhabism  Timbuktu  Mali  editorials  antiquities  heritage  heresies 
january 2013 by jerryking
The secret race to save Timbuktu’s manuscripts - The Globe and Mail
Dec. 27 2012 | The Globe and Mail | GEOFFREY YORK.

Timbuktu’s greatest cultural treasure: its ancient scholarly manuscripts, are under threat from Radical Islamist rebels who have repeatedly attacked the fabled city’s heritage, taking pickaxes to the tombs of local saints and smashing down a door in a 15th century mosque and demolishing mausoleums...Timbuktu’s most priceless remaining legacy is its vast libraries of crumbling Arabic and African manuscripts, written in ornate calligraphy over the past eight centuries, proof of a historic African intellectual tradition. Some experts consider them as significant as the Dead Sea Scrolls – and an implicit rebuke to the harsh narrow views of the Islamist radicals.

But now the manuscripts, too, could be under threat. And so a covert operation is under way to save them....The manuscripts, dating back to the 13th century, are evidence of ancient African and Islamist written scholarship, contradicting the myth of a purely oral tradition on the continent.

Many of the manuscripts are religious documents, but others are intellectual treatises on medicine, astronomy, literature, mathematics, chemistry, judicial law and philosophy. Many were brought to Timbuktu in camel caravans by scholars from Cairo, Baghdad and Persia who trekked to the city when it was one of the world’s greatest centres of Islamic learning. In the Middle Ages, when Europe was stagnating, the African city had 180 religious schools and a university with 20,000 students.

Timbuktu fell into decline after Moroccan invasions and French colonization, but its ancient gold-lettered manuscripts were preserved by dozens of owners, mostly private citizens, who kept them in wooden trunks or in their own libraries.

Today, under the occupation of the radical jihadists, the manuscripts face a range of threats. Conservation experts have fled the city, so the documents could be damaged by insects, mice, sand, dust or extreme temperatures. Or the Islamist militants could decide to raise money by looting and selling the documents.
Mali  Africa  Timbuktu  Geoffrey_York  cultural_institutions  covert_operations  antiquities  art_history  threats  art  collectors  collectibles  Islamists  sub-Saharan_Africa  digitalization 
december 2012 by jerryking
African Art Is Under Threat in Djenne-Djenno - NYTimes.com
August 2, 2012 | NYT | By HOLLAND COTTER.

Ethical battles surrounding the ownership of, and right to control and dispose of, art from the past rage on in Africa, as in other parts of the world....the wars over art as cultural property take many forms: material, political and ideological. On the surface the dynamics may seem clear cut, the good guys and bad guys easy to identify. In reality the conflicts are multifaceted, questions of innocence and guilt often — though not always — hard to nail down. In many accounts Africa is presented as the acted-upon party to the drama, the loser in the heritage fight, though such is not necessarily the case, and it certainly doesn’t have to be, and won’t be if we acknowledge Africa as the determining voice in every conversation...finding sculptures in situ, in their historical context...unauthorized trade in such art had been illegal since 1970, when Unesco drew up its Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. But the digging went on, and getting art out of the country — through porous borders, with a payment of bribes — was (and still is) easy. ...Certain archaeologists, the McIntoshes among them, were aghast at the ruinous plundering and took action. They were convinced that any Western attention paid to Malian antiquities increased the market value and encouraged looting. With this in mind they proposed an information blackout on any and all “orphaned“ Inland Niger Delta objects, meaning any that had not been scientifically excavated — most of those in circulation... The antiquities wars were not easy on dealers, collectors and museum administrators. Not only were their jobs threatened and acquisitive passions blocked, but they acquired unfortunate reputations. Once esteemed as cultural benefactors, they came to be seen, in some quarters, as hoarders and thieves.

Where does Africa itself stand in all of this? Is it merely the battleground on which science and commerce clash, a passive stretch of turf to be either righteously conserved or carved up and parceled out? Or is it — could it be — an active, gainful partner in cultural exchange?

It could. Art-alert countries like Nigeria and Mali have stockpiles of objects in storage. Selections of them could be leased out to Western institutions, or even swapped for temporary loans of Western art. The idea that Africa would not be receptive to such exchanges is wrong. It has fine museums (in Bamako, in Lagos), impressive private collections (one is documented in Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie’s superb book “Making History: African Collectors and the Canon of African Art“), and at least a few sharp critics (check out Kwame Opoku at modernghana.com).

There’s no reason to think that concepts of art in Africa and the West — I use these generalities for convenience only — have to jibe. But clearly a sense of the complex value of patrimony is strong and can be pushed further. The time is long past due to be compiling comprehensive digital databases not just of art from Africa, but also of art that’s still there. Not only would this be an invaluable, promotional resource for international study, it would also be a lasting record of types of ephemeral art, or of things too fragile to move, or of objects that have, in the event of political instability, a good chance of being lost.
Africa  art  collectors  collectibles  Mali  ethics  museums  books  embargoes  contraband  archeological  dealerships  art_galleries  art_history  Nigeria  threats  Islamists  antiquities  Timbuktu  sub-Saharan_Africa  heritage  history  stockpiles 
august 2012 by jerryking
Timbuktu’s Tomb Raiders - NYTimes.com
By BENJAMIN F. SOARES
Published: July 8, 2012
Mali  Islamists  Timbuktu 
july 2012 by jerryking

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