The Islamist destruction underway in Timbuktu (including the tomb of Sidi Mahmoudou, d. 955, and the doors of the Sidi Yahya Mosque, ca. 1400) raises a question: What is it about Islam that so often turns its adherents against their own patrimony? Consider some examples:
In addition, some intentions to destroy antiquities (Khomeini contemplated razing Persepolis, a grand mufti of Egypt banned exhibiting statues) might yet be realized. (On the other hand, the story about Muslims burning the ancient Library of Alexandria appears apocryphal.)
Although these examples include both non-Muslim and Muslim artifacts, motives differ in the two cases: eliminating infidel remnants establishes the superiority of Islam, while eliminating Muslim ones establishes the superiority of Islamism. In both cases, the motive is foul and the results are, historically speaking, tragic.