This is indeed a tragedy. Mali is no backwater but in its day an advanced civilization. Ibn Battuta, a world traveller, who was there in the 14th century, described it as a country where you could travel anywhere without any fear of molestation or robbery. This year on the Internet someone put up a list of richest men of all time and a Mali king Mansa Musa I came in first beating out the Rothschilds.
"Timbuktu's famous manuscripts, believed to number in the hundreds of thousands, mainly date from the 14th to 16th centuries, when the city was an important hub for trade and Islamic knowledge. Often written in Arabic but also some local languages, they cover areas such as medicine and astronomy, as well as poetry, literature and Islamic law. Many were kept for centuries in private family libraries, passed down through the generations.
The city's huge and priceless cultural heritage, a legacy of its medieval status as an African equivalent to Oxford or Cambridge, complete with bustling university, was little known in the outside world, with even the French, Mali's colonial rulers until 1960, carrying away some manuscripts to museums but doing little to unearth the full story behind them.
this is terrible. Those manuscripts are the heritage of the Malian people. what was their beef? They weren’t Islamic or something? Who knows.
They are demons of destruction. Next they’ll want to find all of Ibn Battuta’s mss. and burn them.