World cultural body UNESCO was set to create a special fund to protect Mali's heritage on Tuesday after al-Qaida-linked Islamists attacked historic and religious landmarks in the city of Timbuktu for a third day, breaking down the door to a 15th century mosque that -- according to legend -- had to remain shut until the end of the world.
A UNESCO committee also called for a mission to go to Mali to work with local and national leaders to stop what it called "wanton destruction."
"In legend, it is said that the main gate of Sidi Yahya mosque will not be opened until the last day (of the world)," Alpha Abdoulahi, the town imam, told Reuters by telephone.Yet Islamists intent on erasing traces of what some regard as un-Islamic idolatry smashed down the door to the mosque early on Monday, saying they wanted to "destroy the mystery" of the ancient entrance, he said.
"They offered me 50,000 CFA ($100) for repairs but I refused to take the money, saying that what they did is irreparable," Abdoulahi added.In a statement emailed to msnbc.com Tuesday, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee called for a series of measures to help save Mali's ancient sites and condemned the "repugnant" destruction of Timbuktu's mausoleums.
Entrepreneur and former Timbuktu resident Male Dioum told Reuters.
"Today there are old women, old people in Timbuktu who say that maybe it is the end of the world,"
This brings to mind, yet again, the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan. What happened after al-Qaida-linked Islamists under the name of the Taliban blew up the Buddahs?
The opening of The End of The World Gate is an ominous portent of coming destruction, and I don’t mean just for Timbuktu!
Is someone trying to tell us something?