Islamic extremists have now wrecked seven historic shrines in the ancient trading town of Timbuktu. The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has now warned the Salafists to stop their destruction, calling it a war crime.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said “My message to those involved in these criminal acts is clear: stop the destruction of the religious buildings now. This is a war crime which my office has authority to fully investigate,” Alarabiya reported.
Mali is a signatory of the Statute "which states in Article 8 that deliberate attacks against undefended civilian buildings which are not military objectives are a war crime." The rebels who have overrun northern Mali are not likely to respect the authority of the ICC as man-made though as they only respect the authority of Sharia law.
Digital Journal reported that Islamic extremists from the Ansar Dine group are intent on destroying Timbuktu's ancient shrines, which they regard as idolatrous. Under the banner of Sharia law the group have introduced medieval punishments, including stoning for adulterers and chopping the hands of thieves, in addition to decreeing all women must wear the veil.
The Telegraph reported a journalist described the wanton destruction of the Cheikh el-Kebir's mausoleum, saying "There are many of us watching them destroy the mausoleum. It hurts but we can't do anything. These madmen are armed, we can't do anything but they will be cursed that is for sure."
UNESCO has appealed for the destruction to end, sending this message to Islamists: "For the sake of future generations, spare the legacy of their past."