On 18 and 19 June 2014, with the support of the Gerda Henkel Foundation the Federal Foreign Office is hosting an International Strategy Conference dedicated to the preservation of approximately 285,000 Islamic manuscripts from Timbuktu (Mali). Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will open the conference at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 18 June 2014, together with Mountaga Tall, Mali’s Education and Science Minister, and Ndiaye Diallo Ramatoulaye, the Malian Culture Minister.
The manuscripts, considered to be a world heritage by UNESCO, are testament to a rich literary tradition and reflect the Arab world’s great scientific, philosophical and theological knowledge. The majority of the manuscripts come from the 12th and 13th centuries. They were kept in Timbuktu until the north of Mali was occupied by Islamists. An assistance mission lasting several months made it possible to protect the manuscripts from the threat of being destroyed by the Islamist rebels in early 2012. Since then, manuscript experts from Mali and Hamburg have been working to preserve and restore the manuscripts and to ensure permanent access to them for research purposes.
The Federal Foreign Office has been supporting the initiative along with international public and private funding institutions such as the Gerda Henkel Foundation. The aim of the International Strategy Conference at the Federal Foreign Office is to now guarantee the future preservation of the hand-written manuscripts and to coordinate further measures for the protection of this cultural heritage.