Sunday, July 15, 2012

Science Crime Scenes 2: Timbuktu

I have two more articles on the story I covered in the first installment of the series, which I used to lead off Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Bastille Day edition). Both of the articles are from Agence France Presse by way of Al-Ahram (Egypt) and Google.

Mali Islamists destroy tombs at ancient Timbuktu mosque
Armed with hoes, pick-axes and chisels, the Islamists who control northern Mali are accused of destroying all World Heritage sites in the region after destroying tombs in an ancient mosque
Tuesday 10 Jul 2012
The Islamists controlling northern Mali on Tuesday destroyed two tombs at the ancient Djingareyber mosque in fabled Timbuktu, vowing to destroy all World Heritage sites in the region.

Armed with hoes, pick-axes and chisels, members of Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) hammered away at the two earthen tombs until they were completely destroyed, witnesses told AFP.

"Currently the Islamists are busy destroying two tombs of Timbuktu's great Djingareyber mosque. They are shooting in the air to chase away the crowd, to scare them," one witness said earlier as the rampage began.

"The two mausolea are adjacent to the western wall of the great mosque and the Islamists have hoes, chisels, they are hitting the mausolea which are made out of packed earth," said a source close to the mosque's imam.

"They say they will destroy everything."
Al Qaeda in Mali is making the same mistake that the Taliban did in Afghanistan when they defaced the Buddha statues, except they're doing it to other members of their own faith. That's the sign of kooks: practice your mistakes; you may get them right. Fortunately, saner heads have prevailed.

Agence France Presse: Timbuktu Arabs set up armed watch at ancient tombs
(AFP) – 3 days ago
BAMAKO — Members of Timbuktu's Arab community said Wednesday they have set up an armed brigade to prevent further destruction of the tombs of ancient Muslim saints by Islamists occupying northern Mali.

"Today we have a vigilance brigade so that no one touches the mausolea of Araouane and Gasser-Cheick," said Tahel Ould Sidy, leader of the unit, referring to two tombs in the greater Timbuktu region.
Denise Oliver Velez of Daily Kos also summarized the situation in Desecration and destruction in Timbuktu. In addition to a mosque, tomb, and World Heritage Site, the diary describes the place's history as a university. It also mentions that Timbuktu is also the repository of many valuable manuscripts, which means that preserving the area from looters and vandals is the same as protecting libraries, something I've been keen on from the first post on this blog. I don't like it here in Michigan, and I don't like it on the other side of the planet, either.

Follow over the jump for videos of this story and a bonus crime scene.

Al Jazeera has been following the conflict in Mali and has posted the following videos about the descration of the cultural site by rebels.

UNESCO places Malian Timbuktu n the list of endangered sites

UNESCO places Malian ancient city of Timbuktu and the tomb of Askia in Gao on an endangered list.

The African Union and the international community have been called on to help protect the sites.

Al Jazeera's Barbara Angopa has more.
Ansar Dine fighters destroy Timbuktu shrines

Fighters in Mali say they will continue to destroy the ancient shrines of Muslim saints in the famed city of Timbuktu.

The rebel group Ansar Dine say the relics are un-Islamic.

Just days ago, the UN cultural agency UNESCO placed the shrines on its list of endangered heritage sites.

Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane reports.
In this report, Al Jazeera made the same connection to the destruction of the statues of the Buddha in Afganistan that I did last week and at the start of this entry.

Continued destruction of Mali shrines called 'war crime'

Members of the group Ansar Dine have destroyed the mausoleums of Sufi saints in Timbuktu for a second day.

Sunday's destruction, utilising pick axes and guns, comes after a statement by the International Criminal Court (ICC), calling the on-going campaign of destruction of ancient Islamic shrines in northern Mali "a war crime".

Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane reports.
Al Jazeera speaks to UNESCO about Timbuktu shrine destruction

Al Jazeera speaks to Lazare Eloundou Assomo, chief of the Africa Unit at UNESCO, the UN's cultural body, about the destruction of ancient Muslim shrines in Timbuktu by the group Ansar Dine.

Assomo says though UNESCO cannot apply force to stop the smashing of the shrines and mausoleums, they can remind the world of the importance of the world heritage present in northern Mali's ancient structures.
UNESCO can't intervene and the U.N. isn't likely to, but the African Union just might do the job for them.

AU considers military intervention in Mali

African leaders are considering plans for a military intervention in Mali.

They say a rebellion in the north is a threat to the entire continent.

There has been fighting and unrest in much of Mali's north since a military coup in March.

Al Jazeera's Anu Nathan reports.
Now the bonus crime scene.

WBND (ABC 57): Mysterious stones, bones found in Granger
By Jaclyn Kelley -
GRANGER, Ind. -- A South Bend archaeologist is now looking into a mistaken discovery. Landscapers found bones just feet away from a popular shopping plaza in Granger.

Those bones are believed to be from an animal and date back to the 1870s. The archaeologist who examined the remains said people stumble across bones, artifacts and tombstone all the time. What is unusual about this discovery are the stones that were also found.
Why is this a crime scene? The police were called when bones were found. Fortunately, there was no crime, just a buried cow.

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