16 April 2016

Saving Timbuktu's Treasures ~ Heritage Writings

in the WSJournal writes of The Librarian Who Saved Timbuktu’s Cultural Treasures From al Qaeda...
"Mr. Haidara knew that many of the works in the city’s repositories were ancient examples of the reasoned discourse and intellectual inquiry that the jihadists, with their intolerance and rigid views of Islam, wanted to destroy. The manuscripts, he thought, would inevitably become a target. [...] Mr. Haidara recruited his nephew, and they reached out to archivists, secretaries, Timbuktu tour guides and a half-dozen of Mr. Haidara’s relatives. The result was a heist worthy of “Ocean’s Eleven.” They bought metal and wooden trunks at a rate of between 50 and 80 a day, made more containers out of oil barrels and located safe houses around the city and beyond. They organized a small army of packers who worked silently in the dark and arranged for the trunks to be carried by donkey to their hiding places. [...] By the time French troops invaded the north in January 2013, the radicals had managed to destroy only 4,000 of Timbuktu’s nearly 400,000 ancient manuscripts. “If we hadn’t acted,” Mr. Haidara told me later, “I’m almost 100% certain that many, many others would have been burned.”

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