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Treasures of Timbuktu Endangered

Across The King’s River producer, James Weeks, expressed outrage at the recent destruction and looting of sacred shrines in Mali by Islamic extremists in the fabled city of Timbuktu.

The United Nations has also strongly condemned the violence and has placed Timbuktu on its list of endangered sites.

“At stake are many lives as well as historical documents and artifacts of incalculable importance to African history,” says historian Michael Gomez.

Located on the edge of the Sahara Desert, Timbuktu was a famous center of learning between the 13th and 17th century.

And during the Golden Age of Africa, scholars from around the world flocked to Timbuktu to study medicine, astronomy, medicine, mathematics and other disciplines.

Modern day Timbuktu is still a cultural and intellectual treasure trove because it is home to some 700,000 ancient manuscripts and other priceless artifacts that can shed light on West Africa’s brilliant past before colonial rule.

But now that Islamic extremists have been looting historical sites since the military coup in March 2012, the international community fears the ancient treasures of Mali may be destroyed.

“It's vital that the United States and the United Nations take an active interest in what is happening in Mali and save these priceless treasures,” says historian Michael A Gomez - Treasures of Timbuktu Endangered

“These treasures belong not just to Malians but also to Africans and the African-descended everywhere and should be cherished by the entire world,” Gomez adds.

James Weeks, whose upcoming film explores sacred African healing traditions and modern science, says the destruction of sacred sites in the name of Islam and Christianity has been going on for centuries in Africa.

“History is just repeating itself,” says Weeks. “This is only the most recent chapter of religious fanatics destroying sites, shrines or traditions that they feel are idolatrous.”

To learn more about the efforts to save the Timbuktu manuscripts read "Targeting Timbuktu" by Paul Stoller and see the Petition to Save the Manuscripts of Timbuktu.

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