When radical Islamic terrorists attempted to take over Mali in 2012, one of their initial steps was to destroy anything in the region that did not line up with their radical form of Islam. One of those locations was a United Nations world heritage site containing a series of Muslim tombs.
“We’re going to destroy everything before we apply Shariah in this city,” a terrorist spokesman said at the time.
Now, three years after the terrorists were driven out of the country by a combined African military force and French military action, there is a sign of restoration as masons have banded together to rebuild the tombs the terrorists destroyed.
The tombs were little more than piles of mud and rock when the terrorists completed their destructive actions. Now, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country reported that 8 of 14 tombs have been finished and that the work on the remaining 6 are near completion.
“We have kept our promise. This is why we are here to say ‘no’ to extremism, and ‘yes’ to peace, development, and, at the same time, pay homage to the Timbuktu community,” said UNESCO’s director-general Irina Bokova told reporters.
The mason used traditional building techniques including local stone and banco, a mixture of clay and straw.
The city’s library, which contained ancient manuscripts and other artifacts, is also back in operation thanks to hundreds of residents who smuggled out the valued items from the library and hid them in homes and other locations to keep them from the terrorists.