It was reported in the news today that Islamist insurgents retreating from Timbuktu set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts. The Saharan town’s mayor described the incident as a devastating blow to world heritage.
Apparently, al-Qaida-allied fighters on Saturday torched two buildings that held the manuscripts, some of which dated back to the 13th century. Soldiers got there too late to rescue the leather-bound manuscripts that were a unique record of sub-Saharan Africa’s rich medieval history.
This act tells you a lot about fanatical Islamic militants in general, and al-Qaida in particular. Like the book-burning that the psychopath Adolf Hitler presided over, these acts are about seeking out and destroying the recorded history of thoughts and events capable of showing that certain traits of thought have absolutely no substance to them. And in the case of the Nazis that would have included their own warped ideology idealizing “the German way of thinking” – whatever that meant, but likely only that there wouldn’t be any people of Jewish faith involved.
Likewise, al-Qaeda and similarly minded Islamist groups – such as Boko Haram – are on a quest to destroy not just the Western way of life – but any way of life that might undermine its miserable vision of pious totalitarianism that reduces people to a form of religious slavery by terrorizing them with the harshest form of barbaric Shariah law to keep them under their control.
It seems that this execrable brand of Islam seems hell-bent to prevent people in their power from exercising the one thing above anything else that separates us from the animal that we once were: our brains, and the ability to think critically about ourselves, our place in the world and what kind of future we want to create for ourselves.