Above: Archivist Abdoulaye Cissé inspects ancient Islamic manuscripts that escaped destruction at the hands of jihadists. Below middle: Abdrahamane Ben Essayouti, the chief imam in Timbuktu, calls the jihadists thieves, not true Muslims. Below bottom: Maman Dedeou had his hand amputated by Islamist radicals.
After a brutal ten-month occupation of Timbuktu, jihadists fled that city in Mali in February of this year—but not before burning all the ancient manuscripts they could find. The city’s Muslim residents have carefully guarded the old documents for centuries. These manuscripts portray an Islam that is largely curious, tolerant and interested in engaging the world, which is why the jihadists were eager to destroy them—and why residents were so eager to hide them when they got news of the impending invasion.