Mausoleum of Sidi Bou Said Destroyed in Tunisia

From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Jan 14 2013, 14:10:00

The Burned Mausoleum

The latest apparent Salafi attack and destruction of a Sufi saint's tomb in North Africa is one I'm taking somewhat personally: nearly 20 years ago my wife and I took our honeymoon in Sidi Bou Said, the beautiful Tunisian coastal town on a promontory near Tunis, known for its white houses with blue trim, its stunning views of the Mediterranean and its popularity as an artist's colony. Sidi Bou Said takes its name from its local saint who settled there in the late 12th/early 13 century AD, became a respected local marabout, and around whose mausoleum/shrine the town grew up, Sidi Bou Said is a popular tourist destination, though most tourists probably either do not notice his tomb or would not recognize it as a saint's tomb.

Yesterday we learned that a fire, which the authorities believe was arson, destroyed the mausoleum of Sidi Bou Said. Though no official suspects were named and officially it is being branded an attack on the nation's cultural heritage, prominent Sufi shrines across North Africa have come under attack from Salafis who consider the veneration of saints as idolatry, and the more famous the shrine, the likelier it seems to be that it will be targeted. The town, where Sufis gather annually to celebrate the saint, has lost one of its landmarks in what appears to be the latest Salafi assault on Islamic heritage.

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