World Islamic body condemns Mali mosque destruction

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Published Monday, July 2, 2012

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Monday condemned the destruction of a 15th century mosque by Islamist rebels in Mali, the bloc's spokesman said in a statement.

The OIC "deplored the destruction of historical sites in Timbuktu, Mali by religious extremists groups," the statement said, adding that the sites were "part of the rich Islamic heritage of Mali and should not be allowed to be destroyed by ... bigoted extremist elements."

The statement further called for "taking necessary measures and appropriate steps for the protection and preservation of the historical sites."

Mali's Islamist rebels smashed the entrance of the 15th century mosque on Monday, escalating a campaign of destruction of the city's cultural treasures despite threats of prosecution for war crimes.

Exclusive video footage obtained by AFP shows turbaned men smashing a mausoleum with pick-axes in a cloud of dust, the mud-brick tomb showing gaping holes in the side with rubble piling up alongside it.

The rebels from the Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) group believe the shrines to be idolatrous and have threatened to destroy any mosques housing the remains of ancient saints, prompting an outcry from the Bamako government and the international community.

According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization website, Sidi Yahya is one of Timbuktu's three great mosques and was built around 1400, during the city's golden age as a center of learning.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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