Timbuktu world heritage site
Tunis – Nébil Zaghdoud
Tunisian minister of culture, Mehdi Mabrouk, confirmed Tunisia’s support to engage in efforts to protect Mali's Islamic heritage under threat of sabotage by the extremist group Ansar al-Din, which
has control of northern Mali.
The Tunisian minister expressed this during a recent visit to China where he met with the Malian culture minister and offered his support for Mali's heritage which has UNESCO World Heritage status.
He explained that the radical Islamic ideology which calls for the destruction of this heritage as a "nihilistic thought" warning of tough consequences.
Since the group took control of northern Mali, Ansar al-Din has destroyed several historical, cultural and religious sites in the city of Timbuktu which was renowned as a tourist destination until recently, when kidnapping of Westerners became a significant threat.
On Saturday, the extremist groupdestroyed the tombs of Awliya in the city, after UNESCO declared the city to be at risk.
The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO announced on Sunday that it was placing the city of Timbuktu and Askia's Tomb on the UNESCO list of endangered World Heritage sites.
The inclusion came at the request of the Malian government to protect World Heritage monuments in the north of the country, against the backdrop of reports of deliberate destruction of tombs which have been awarded this prestigious status,
The committee called on neighbouring countries to make every effort to combat trafficking in cultural property from these sites such as valuable ancient manuscripts which are vulnerable to looting, plundering and smuggling.
According to the United Nations website, the committee also urged the African Union together with the international community, to exert their utmost to protect Timbuktu which has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites since 1988. Askia's Tomb which dates back to the seventeenth century, has been included on the list since 2004.