Advancing radical Islamists lay waste to religious heritage in Muslim world

July 4, 2012

(A man walks at the Sidi Jubran shrine, which was destroyed by Salafists, in Zlitan city, about 160 km (90 miles) west of Tripoli March 13, 2012. The shrine's caretaker Faraj al-Shimi, saw 16 bearded Salafis carrying Kalashnikovs who broke into the tomb using a Caterpillar tractor. REUTERS/Anis Mili)

The grim sacking of Sufi shrines in Timbuktu is the latest chapter in an assault on prized religious heritage across the Muslim world that has picked up over the past decade with the spread of radical Islamism.

The world got a first taste of this iconoclasm in 2001, when Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban blew up two huge 6th-century statues of Buddha despite an international outcry.

Since then, radical Islamists have also struck holy sites of other faiths, especially Christian churches. But their most frequent targets have been mosques and shrines of other Muslims loyal to a version of Islam less puritanical than their own.

This violence has spread through Pakistan, starting near the Afghan border and fanning out to strike famous Sufi shrines as far away as Lahore and southern Punjab.

(Zlitan residents protest against the destruction of tombs in front of the shrine of 15th-century Sufi scholar Abdel Salam al-Asmar in Zlitan city, about 160 km (90 miles) west of Tripoli March 13, 2012. REUTERS/Anis Mili)

It broke out in the Middle East last year when, in the wake of the Arab Spring, once-repressed Salafi groups destroyed shrines in Egypt. In Libya, some militants dug up Sufi saints’ graves and dumped their remains on garbage heaps.

Like the radicals’ strict theology, this assault on rival religious heritage goes back to the dawn of Islam and is rigorously enforced in its birthplace, Saudi Arabia.

Sanda Ould Boumama of the Ansar Dine group now reducing Timbuktu’s tombs to rubble told France’s RFI radio: “When the Prophet (Mohammad) entered Mecca, he said all the mausoleums should be destroyed. And that’s what we’re repeating.”

(The remains of the Sheikh Zewaid shrine is seen after it was blown up by Islamist extremists, at a graveyard in Sheikh Zewaid city, in north Sinai, March 7, 2012. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)

Read the full story here.
.
Follow RTRFaithWorld via Twitter Follow all posts on Twitter @ RTRFaithWorld

rss button Follow all posts via RSS

One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

My God! Your God! Our God! Any God, cannot and does not look upon this Evil and say this is the way Man is supposed to treat Man. MUDha!MUD was nothing more than a butchering, heartless, pedophile Thug! and while it is good to protest against the destroying of these tombs, the time has come for good Muslims to pick up arms and take the breath of every last extremist, fundamentalist before it is too late. Only then can there be true peace…

Posted by GrtGooglyMoogly | Report as abusive