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Islamic extremists desecrate Muslim saint’s Timbuktu tomb

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BAMAKO — Members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have desecrated a Muslim saint’s tomb in the fabled city of Timbuktu, an official said on Saturday.

“Members of AQIM, supported by (the armed Islamist group) Ansar Dine, have destroyed the tomb of Saint Sidi (Mahmoud Ben) Amar. They set fire to the tomb,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that they had pledged to destroy others too.

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Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site and cradle of Islamic learning, has been under the control of AQIM and Ansar Dine since the groups took advantage of a March 22 coup to take control of northern Mali.

“They promised to destroy other tombs, Timbuktu is in shock. Now they want to take and control other tombs and manuscripts,” the official said.

A local journalist confirmed the tomb was destroyed.

“This is very serious,” he said.

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Mali’s transitional government expressed outrage over the desecration, calling it “an unspeakable act”, in a statement read out on national television.

Beyond its historic mosques, the World Heritage site comprises 16 cemeteries and mausolea, according to the UNESCO website.

These tombs are “essential elements in a religious system as, according to popular belief; they constitute a rampart that shields the city from all misfortune”, the UN cultural organisation said.

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Sometimes called the city of 333 saints, Timbuktu is also home to nearly 100,000 ancient manuscripts, some dating to the 12th century, preserved in family homes and private libraries under the care of religious scholars.

At its height in the 1500s, the city, a Niger River port at the edge of the Sahara a thousand kilometres (600 miles) north of Bamako, was the key intersection for salt traders traveling from the north and gold traders from the south.

It was also a renowned centre of Islamic scholarship, with manuscripts written in Arabic and Fulani by scholars of the ancient Mali empire, covering a range of subjects including Islam, history, astronomy, music, botany, genealogy and anatomy.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Wisconsin political professor shatters the biggest misconception about Trump’s base with a revealing poll

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One of the most enduring ideas the general public, and especially Democrats, have about President Donald Trump's supporters is that they are bound by an unflappable, cult-like devotion to the president that transcends any sort of logic, reason, or reservations.

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Gun Belonged to School Official Who Is Also Student’s Grandmother

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Trump told NRA’s Wayne LaPierre he’s not ‘waffling’ anymore — background checks are off the table

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President Donald Trump made a congratulatory phone call to National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre to let the far-right organization know that the White House was reversing itself and would not be supporting universal background checks for firearms sales.

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