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Islamist Rebels Fleeing Timbuktu Burn Priceless Scientific Manuscripts

Example of manuscripts at Timbuktu

It is what conservators, archivists and researchers have feared. As Malian troops, supported by the French military, advanced on the fabled city of Timbuktu in northern Mali, retreating Islamist rebels have set fire to the Ahmed Baba Institute and a warehouse containing valuable scientific manuscripts dating back to medieval times.

The Ahmed Baba Institute housed an estimated 30,000 manuscripts. The texts include documents on astronomy, medicine, botany, mathematics and biology, evidence that science was under way in Africa before European settlers arrived. They were not only from scholars working in Timbuktu, once a center for learning, but also from all over Mali and as far as the borders of Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Guinea, Niger, Algeria and the Ivory Coast.

It is unclear at this stage how many of the texts have been destroyed.

The rebel group Ansar al Din wrestled control of Timbuktu from Tuareg separatists in April last year, and since have been using the Institute as their base. The rebels had earlier looted the building of its vehicles, computers and other equipment.

“There is no way these people can claim to be Africans when they destroy the very foundation of our contribution to world knowledge and academia,” says George Abungu, vice president of the executive council of the International Council of Museums. The texts “are the very evidence that Africa had a rich academic history before the coming of the Europeans, as opposed to the earlier notion that we had none,” he says. He describes the burning as “an incredible loss to Africa’s heritage, a backward move to the dark ages”.

Read more: NewScientist


What people are saying

One thought on “Islamist Rebels Fleeing Timbuktu Burn Priceless Scientific Manuscripts

  1. John Dahodi says:

    After Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, now MALI is on the war front of the West. They are now jointly fight this war spending millions and billion dollars. Al-Qaida is the root of the problem in all these country and it is worthwhile to fight and eradicate these militants. But more important is the ideology of these militants and their silent and vocal supporters around the globe. Rather than spending millions and billions of dollars and hundreds and thousands of innocent human lives, it is much important and worthwhile is to kill the ideology and sponsors of such ideology, who are mostly Saudis, Kuwaitis, Jordanians, Libyans and Egyptians. The financial support is coming from the oil king Saudi Arabia. If we can stop the spread of Wahbism, we can easily control Al-Qaida's recruiting POWER, and that is what we need now rather than killings innocents in several nations and providing needed boost to the militants to recruit more and more and spread their wings wider and wider. ,

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