A Tale of Two Secessions in the Sahara

The March 2001 destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan, Afghanistan, introduced a new loanword into the Euro-American political vocabulary. The Taliban’s new explosion into world consciousness catalyzed, until September of that year, more hand wringing than substantive investigation of their social origins, political meaning and global import. Similarly, the July 2012 desecration of saintly burial markers in Timbuktu, Mali, tombs that were among the greatest monuments of Islamic Africa, has largely failed to register as more than cultural vandalism. These crimes against the cultural heritage of the Islamic world may presage far graver damage to the people of the Sahara.


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