Schmidjell: In 2012 different jihadist groups occupied Northern Mali. We have learned that they destroyed many libraries and burnt manuscripts in Timbuktu. How big is the loss for the Islamic heritage in Sub-Sahara Africa?
Kane: On January 27, the French and Malian troops re-conquered Timbuktu. On the same day, a journalist of Sky News, embedded with the French troops reported that 25,000 manuscripts had been burnt or disappeared. Interviewed from Bamako, the capital city of Mali located hundreds of miles away, the mayor of Timbuktu Ousmane Hasse reported having heard that the largest library in Timbuktu (Ahmad Baba Library) had been torched by fleeing insurgent groups. The news of the destruction of manuscripts spread like wildfire. In reality, 95% of the 300,000 Timbuktu manusripts had been moved to Bamako during the crisis. 4,203 manuscripts had been stolen or torched and 17 mausoleums destroyed. The Islamists apparently took also hard drives of some computers on which manuscripts were digitized. This is certainly a loss, but thankfully not of the magnitude reported at the beginning of the French military intervention.
Bilal ibn Samar: In your book Non-Europhone intellectuals, you are calling to rethink the role of Islamic scholarly tradition in Africa and the Africans' contribution to Islamic knowledge. Where does the misreading of the African Muslims' intellectual production stem from?