The March 22 coup eased the way for Tuareg separatist rebels -- descendants of those who founded the ancient city state of Timbuktu in the fifth century -- to carry out the armed takeover of an area larger than France they consider their homeland. However the previously unknown Ansar Dine group fighting on their flanks seized the upper hand, and have since pushed the Tuareg from all positions of power. These extremist Wahabis - members of the Ansar Dine - consider the Sufi shrines to be idolatrous and have wrecked seven tombs in two days. On Saturday these criminals, and that is how I see them, destroyed the tombs of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Moctar and Alpha Moya, and on Sunday attacked four more including Cheikh el-Kebir's mausoleum as residents stood by helplessly. The ancient city of Timbuktu is also home to 16 cemeteries and mausoleums.
The attacks were reminiscent of the Taliban idiots (with less than adequate learning of Islam) blowing up the giant Buddhas of the Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan -- an ancient Buddhist shrine on the Silk Road and a world heritage site -- in 2001. Back then, I condemned such acts saying that what a mockery of Islam did the Taliban make by destroying those statues. As any student of history would know those statues had no problem surviving during the regime of the great Muslim ruler Sultan Mahmood of Ghazni (11th century C.E.) but sadly, they could not survive during the short tenure of Talibans of Afghanistan. Was Sultan Mahmood a lesser Muslim or less knowledgeable Muslim compared to the half-educated morons of the Taliban?
And, now the Ansar Dine - the spiritual brothers of the Talibans - are carrying out the same criminal activities. I condemn their destruction. I condemn their brand of Islam. I pray and hope that the people of Mali, esp. the Tuareg, would unite together and throw these extremists out. There is no place for extremism in Islam. Ansar Dine are extremists and have crossed the bounds of Islam. Their acts are criminal and unacceptable.