Archive for July, 2012

Calling spades

July 11, 2012

Journalists. We’re supposed to be objective, reporting the facts to the best of our knowledge, let all sides have their say on a particular matter. And all this is right and proper on almost all occasions.

Today, this is not such an occasion. A city I love is being wilfully destroyed. I am, of course, referring to the cultural annihilation being perpetrated on the city and the people of Timbuktu.

I have seen all manner of labels being used to describe the perpetrators of this crime. “radical Islamists”, “salafists”, “fundamentalists”, they call themselves Ançar Dine, which supposedly means “keepers of the faith”. All fine and good if you – and they – want to pussyfoot around the issue.

It’s time to call them what they are. They are criminal scum. Muslims the world over have been calling the criminal acts of these destroyers by their proper name: barbaric. Which is exactly right. Criminal scum have launched a direct attack on Islam.

There is little consolation for the peoples who over centuries of work, trade, religious observance, scholarship and art made Timbuktu what it was. Timbuktu the Mysterious. The City of 333 Saints. The only small consolation is the knowledge about the fate of the destroyers of its shrines, its history, its religion, its peoples, music, art and soul.

For when their joyless and brainless non-lives under an undeserved sun come to and end, a special place in Hell will be reserved for these criminals.

A line has been crossed in Timbuktu. We, in the civilised world, of which Timbuktu was (and remains) a uniquely powerful symbol can do little more than wring our hands. But the least we can do is start calling the assassins of this city, its history, its soul, its core, by their proper names.