Sacred Timbuktu mosque entrance smashed

2012-07-02 13:34
A still from a video shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu. (AFP)

A still from a video shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bamako - Islamist militants in northern Mali on Monday destroyed the 'sacred' door of one of Timbuktu's three ancient mosques after smashing seven tombs of Muslim saints over the weekend, witnesses said.

"The Islamists have just destroyed the door to the entrance of the Sidi Yahya mosque... they tore the sacred door off which we never open," said a resident of the town.

A former tour guide in the once-popular tourist destination said: "They came with pick-axes, they cried 'Allah' and broke the door. It is very serious. Some of the people watching began crying."

Another man, a relative of a local imam (religious leader), said he had spoken to Islamist group Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) who have gone on a rampage destroying cultural treasures after occupying the town for three months.

"Some said that the day this door is opened it will be the end of the world and they wanted to show that it is not the end of the world."

The door on the south end of the mosque has been closed for centuries due to local beliefs that to open it will bring misfortune.

It leads to a tomb of saints, however the Islamists appeared unaware of this as one witness said if they had known "they would have broken everything".

War crime

According to the website of the UN cultural agency (Unesco) Sidi Yahya is one of Timbuktu's three great mosques and was built around 1400, dating back to the city's golden age as a desert crossroads and centre for learning.

The three mosques formed the 'university' of the fabled city, also known as the "City of 333 Saints".

The Islamists threatened to destroy the mosques over the weekend if they contained the remains of any saints, considering the shrines idolatrous.

They began their destruction of tombs on Saturday, after Unesco put Timbuktu on its list of endangered world heritage sites.

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Sunday warned that the destruction of historical and religious buildings could amount to a war crime.

"My message to those involved in these criminal acts is clear: stop the destruction of the religious buildings now," Bensouda told AFP in an interview in Dakar.

"This is a war crime which my office has authority to fully investigate."

Read more on:    unesco  |  mali  |  west africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.