Timbuktu CC emilio labrador

Local masons in Timbuktu, Mali have rebuilt eight ancient mausoleums, turning the tombs into monuments to tolerance and peace three years after an invading army destroyed them.

When militants first took over the city in 2012, they declared the Sofi Muslim mausoleums a form of idolatry and destroyed them. After only three months, the invaders were forced out of the city, and the United Nations set out to rebuild the historic tombs.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) hired local masons to rebuild a total of 14 of the mud and brick mausoleums. Eight have already been completed. Afghan 3D Buddha dusk-YouTube

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“Your work is a lesson in tolerance, dialogue and peace,” UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova told the masons during a visit Saturday alongside the Malian government and local leaders.

The mausoleums have been part of Sofi pilgrimages for centuries, and the whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Timbuktu was a major cultural and education center in the 15th and 16th centuries, and scholars were able to rescue 28,000 priceless manuscripts from the city’s “Golden Age” before militants took the city.

The European Union, along with France, Norway and Switzerland, each provided money or technical assistance to the rebuilding project.

(READ more at Yahoo! News) — Photo: emilio labrador, CC

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