The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

January 29, 2013

Our View: Nothing sacred or safe

— Hard-line Islamists, before pulling out of the ancient city of Timbuktu in Mali, set fire to a library there containing tens of thousands of historic and sacred texts, some of which tell the story of the spread of Islam in North Africa.

The mayor of the town said: “They torched all the important ancient manuscripts. The ancient books of geography and science. It is the history of Timbuktu, of its people.”

They also destroyed an unknown number of sacred sites.

Centuries ago, Timbuktu, on an ancient caravan route in Africa, was fabled for its wealth, a trading center of gold, ivory and even slaves. The very name “Timbuktu” conjured of images of an exotic, mysterious place among Westerners. The city was equally reknowned as a center of Islamic learning.

But as empires, trade and fortunes shifted, Timbuktu’s moment passed.

Today the historic town is but a shadow of its former self. Not much bigger than Joplin, it is a deeply impoverished community of mud-brick homes struggling against the encroaching Sahara Desert.

However, it still possessed a famous library with an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 manuscripts. Some texts were nearly 1,000 years old. How much and what was saved is still unclear.

Timbuktu also was home to tombs of early Islamic saints, some of whom died more than 1,000 years ago. Many of those were also destroyed.

Islamic extremists have brought ruin to other sacred and historic sites before, most notably with the Taliban blowing up giant statues of Buddha that had been carved into a mountain in Afghanistan, and smashing up art in a national museum, destroying an estimated 2,500 statues.

Islamic extremism makes no compromise with the world and in doing so continues to force reactions from the rest of the world, led by the West. In a world ruled by extremism, nothing is sacred, nothing is safe.

1
Text Only
Opinion
Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

Amendment 8 in Missouri proposes a special lottery ticket to help fund state veterans homes. How will you vote?

For it.
Against it.
     View Results
Facebook
NDN Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Sports