A Glimpse of What Could Be Lost in Timbuktu

Most reportage from the area has emphasized the spoiling, wholly or in part, of shrines and mosques accused of encouraging idol-worship. But the threat goes beyond the usual crude iconoclasm of al Qaeda-related sects. According to photographer Alexandra Huddleston, “not only are thousands of ancient manuscripts and holy sites under threat, but also an ancient scholarly culture.” She has documented this culture in the past, and now she has created a video that shows us what we are in danger of losing. Read more »

Iconoclasts in Timbuktu

Islam is now caught up in a perhaps more complex network of wars of religion into which the West has allowed itself to become entangled. The prefectly predictable sort of blowback is what we call Islamic terrorist extremism. Perhaps the ultimate trajectory for Islam will resemble that of Christianity. Sects will discover it's better to agree to disagree and work by persuasion alone. In the meantime, the iconoclasts, though apparently in the minority, seem to have the zeal that will always intimidate the lukewarm. To say nothing of the weapons, of course. Read more »

Mali Extremists Blunder, But Who Can Capitalize?

By Bennett Furlow and Jeffry Halverson Over the past week a militant Islamist group operating in Mali called Ansar Dine has destroyed a number of Sufi mausoleums and the legendary gate of a 600-year-old mosque in the fabled city of Timbuktu. Many news reports have compared these tragic events in Mali to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001. There is a key difference though that could lead to dramatically […] Read more »