This exemplary work tells a remarkable story of the saving of precious manuscripts and explores the meanings of the ‘African Eldorado’, but exposes a myth

In April 2012, the jihadist army of the Saharan branch of al-Qaida drove a fleet of their armoured pick-up trucks into the centre of the ancient caravan town of Timbuktu in northern Mali. As black flags were hoisted atop the minarets, and as trapped and terrified government conscripts scrambled out of their uniforms, the jihadists began imposing their own puritanical interpretation of sharia law. Music was forbidden, modest clothing was forced on the women, stoning was imposed as a punishment for adultery and a war declared on “unIslamic superstition”.

Related: Jihadists return to northern Mali a year after French intervention

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