Silencing Timbuktu

Cross-posted on the Corner.

I cannot say that I know that much about Mali, but my ipod knows its music.

Enter the Islamists.

The Guardian reports:

The pickup halted in Kidal, the far-flung Malian desert town that is home to members of the Grammy award-winning band Tinariwen. Seven AK47-toting militiamen got out and marched to the family home of a local musician. He wasn’t home, but the message delivered to his sister was chilling: “If you speak to him, tell him that if he ever shows his face in this town again, we’ll cut off all the fingers he uses to play his guitar with.”

The gang then removed guitars, amplifiers, speakers, microphones and a drum kit from the house, doused them with petrol, and set them ablaze. In northern Mali, religious war has been declared on music.

The savagery is shocking, as is the peculiarly grotesque vandalism of an ancient cultural heritage. But there is also crushing inhumanity of it, the merciless expression of an arid religious monomania with no room, it seems, for so many of the pleasures of this world. It’s not so much an assertion of the idea that there is no God but Allah, but the insistence that there is nothing but Allah…

Naturally, xenophobia is thrown into the mix:

An official decree banning all western music was issued on 22 August by a heavily bearded Islamist spokesman in the city of Gao. “We don’t want the music of Satan. Qur’anic verses must take its place. Sharia demands it,” the decree says.

No sympathy for the devil then.

The Guardian continues:

The ban comes in the context of a horrifically literal and gratuitous application of Sharia law in all aspects of daily life. Militiamen are cutting off the hands and feet of thieves or stoning adulterers. Smokers, alcohol drinkers and women who are not properly attired are being publicly whipped. As one well-known Touareg musician from Kidal says: “There’s a lack of joy. No one is dancing. There are no parties. Everybody’s under this kind of spell. It’s strange.”

Ansar adds: “People think that the problem is new. But the menace of al-Qaida started to have an effect on us in 2007. That’s when al-Qaida people started to appear in the desert. They came to the nomad camps near Essakane [the beautiful dunes to the west of Timbuktu where the Festival in the Desert used to be held] and at first they were pleasant and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re Muslims like you.’ Then they began to say, ‘We have a common enemy, which is the west.’ That’s when I understood that things were going to get difficult.”

Read the whole—terrible—thing.

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4 Responses to Silencing Timbuktu

  1. Polichinello says:

    The savagery is shocking…

    Shocking, but not surprising. This is Africa, after all.

    But, fear not, thanks to our bi-partisan immigration policy, you soon won’t have to go to the Guardian to hear about these quaint cultures.

  2. Steve Cardon says:

    It used to be an aspiration to become “cultured”. It meant that you were educated, well mannered, and well versed in the finer things Western Culture had to offer.

    Now the goal is to become “Multi-cultural”. Intellectuals try to out-do each other with their knowledge of “Global” music, art, dance… knowledge of all the ways that “We” (the collectively guilty West) have exploited and sought to destroy cultures the world over.

    Forgive me for thinking that many, if not most of these cultures are just fine residing in a museum, and no where else. I love a lot of Reggae Music, Bob Marley was a brilliant musician, yet I know the repressive tenets of classic Rastafarianism (which is fairly modern)… There is no reason to respect a culture which brutally represses individuals, an entire gender, or free expression more generally.

    I like Western cultures just fine… the wave of progress seems to be struggling to move East.

  3. John says:

    Before 9/11, in Taliban Afghanistan, the Taliban were known to go into a house and beat people simply because they heard laughter. These people literally want to ban pleasure.

  4. Steve Cardon says:

    I am struck by the similarities between “Communism” and “Sharia”. Both are absolutist ideologies that were/are being used by certain individuals seeking power over their own people.

    Both feel (correctly so) that they can only survive through an absolute and brutal shunning of ideas that run counter to their own. It seems odd that these radical Islamists feel their ideas cannot stand on their own in a free forum. Surely the all powerfull “Allah” should be persuasive enough through his revealed literary masterpiece, and the enlightened tolerance demonstrated by his worshippers

    Once again it is shown that God (whatever God), is created in man’s image, rather than the other way around. The image being portrayed by the radical Islamists is one of a God willing to destroy any of his creation that will not toe the line… where have I heard that before?

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