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14 mausoleums rebuilt in Mali

By on July 20, 2015

Malian masons have rebuilt 14 mausoleums destroyed by Islamist militants that took over the desert city of Timbuktu in 2012, the United Nations and Malian officials said.

The reconstruction was carried out by local stonemasons working for the UN’s cultural organisation, Unesco.
On a visit to the city, Unesco’s chief said she wanted those responsible for the destruction to be brought before the International Criminal Court.
The entire city of Timbuktu is listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The city was considered the centre of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th Centuries. At one time it counted nearly 200 schools and universities that attracted thousands of students from across the Muslim world.
The mausoleums were shrines to Timbuktu’s founding fathers, who had been venerated as saints by most of the city’s inhabitants.
But this practice is considered blasphemous by fundamentalists who occupied the city along with much of northern Mali in 2012, until they were forced out by French forces in January 2013.
During their occupation, the militants vandalised and destroyed mosques and mausoleums, and burnt tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts.
Unesco’s Irina Bokova, inaugurating the rebuilt mausoleums on Saturday, said the destruction of cultural heritage is considered a war crime under the UN’s 1954 Hague Convention.

A U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSMA) which is supporting the project said that eight of 14 tombs had been rebuilt and that work on the others was nearly completed. France Norway, Switzerland and the European Union have also contributed either technical or financial assistance to the project.
The city remains an important pilgrimage site for Muslims in West Africa

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