Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How Timbuktu’s manuscripts were saved from jihadists

    Tuesday, May 28, 2013   No comments

In TIMBUKTU, MALI — It was 7 o’clock on a hot night in August, and Hassine Traore was nervous. Behind him were 10 donkeys, each strapped with two large rice bags filled with ancient manuscripts. The bags were covered in plastic to shield them from a light rain.

Radical Islamists had entered Timbuktu four months earlier, and they had set about destroying everything they deemed a sin.
They had demolished the tombs of Sufi saints. They had beaten up women for not covering their faces and flogged men for smoking or drinking. They most certainly would have burned the manuscripts — nearly 300,000 pages on a variety of subjects, including the teachings of Islam, law, medicine, mathematics and astronomy — housed in public and private libraries across the city.

The scholarly documents depicted Islam as a historically moderate and intellectual religion and were considered cultural treasures by Western institutions — reasons enough for the ultraconservative jihadists to destroy them.

But a secret operation had been set in motion within weeks of the jihadist takeover. It included donkeys, safe houses and smugglers, all deployed to protect the manuscripts by sneaking them out of town.

This is the story of how nearly all the documents were saved, based on interviews with an unlikely cast of characters who detailed their roles for the first time. They included Traore, a 30-year-old part-time janitor, and his grandfather, a guard.

“We knew that if we attracted any attention, the Islamists would arrest us,” Traore recalled.

read more >>

Isr Ed

About Isr Ed

Islamic Societies Review Editors

Previous
Next Post
No comments:
Write comments

Most popular articles

All Referred Articles

_______________________________________________

Copyright © Islamic Societies Review. All rights reserved.