Top of the Morning: Militants Attack World Heritage Site in Timbuktu; Syria’s Bogus Parliamentary Elections

Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 

Al Qaeda-aligned Militants Attack World Heritage Site in Timbuktu

Members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) attacked and burned the tomb of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar, a World Heritage Site, in Timbuktu, north Mali over the weekend. “The act on Sunday threatens to raise tensions that have been building between the people in Timbuktu and the Islamists who occupied the city in April. ‘A new member of the Ansar Dine group came to Timbuktu and went to the tomb of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar on Friday to tell the faithful praying there that the saints’ should not be adored, said Sanda Ould Boumama, a spokesman for Ansar Dine. Boumama refused to say whether Ansar Dine supported the act or not, and that since the man was new to the group the act must first be investigated. Residents at the scene had earlier described the offender as a member of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. Diplomats in Bamako have said Ansar Dine has links with AQIM. Mahamane Cisse and other witnesses who went to pray at the tomb said that a Mauritanian member of AQIM and some members of his group on Friday tore off the doors of the tomb and burned some items, including a mosquito net on the tomb.” (Al Jazeera

Syria To Hold Totally Bogus Parliamentary Election Today

No doubt, Assad and his backers will hail this as a major step forward. “Syrian election officials have said at least seven new political parties will participate in Monday’s vote for the 250-seat assembly, dominated for decades by the ruling Baath party of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A new constitution approved in a February referendum allowed the creation of opposition parties to compete with the Baath-led National Progressive Front. A spokeswoman for Syria’s main exiled opposition group, the Syrian National Council, told VOA that the parliamentary election is an “insult to democracy.” Speaking by phone from France, Bassma Kodmani said the government is “killing (people) every day” in centers of the 14-month rebellion against Mr. Assad’s autocratic rule. She said the only people who will vote in such an environment are those who are “forced” to do so.” (VOA