French President FranÃ§ois Hollande said that extremism “destroys the principles and values of Islam” as he opened a new wing at the Louvre museum that will house a vast collection of Islamic art.
At the inauguration of a new 100-million-euro Islamic art wing at the world-renowned Louvre museum in Paris Tuesday, French President FranÃ§ois Hollande slammed the destruction of UNESCO world heritage sites in Mali by extremists and warned that fanaticism is contrary to the principles of Islam.
Hollande stated: “The honour of Islamic civilisations is to be older, more alive, more tolerant than some of those who claim today to abusively speak on their behalf. It is the exact opposite of obscurantism, which destroys the principles and destroys the values of Islam, bringing violence and hatred.”
‘Aggression against all civilisations’
The French president went on to say that the destruction of an ancient mausoleum in northern Mali over the weekend was evidence of extremists’ “unfathomable stupidity.” He continued: “Throughout the world â€“ because it amounts to an aggression against all civilizations â€“ when heritage is ransacked, we will be there to fight against these groups.”
Since Islamic militants overran northern Mali in March, radical militants have destroyed the centuries-old tombs of Muslim saints in the region. On Saturday, witnesses said Islamists destroyed the mausoleum of Cheik El-Kebir, 330 kilometres from the city of Gao. Two months ago, the al Qaeda-linked fighters took picks and hammers to the ancient Djingareyber mud mosque in Timbuktu.
Islamic art at the Louvre
The Department of Islamic Art was opened at the Louvre in 2003, but has been closed since 2008 for a state-of-the-art refurbishment. The collection groups 18,000 treasures and many of the pieces are being exhibited for the first time.
The new section will boast a prominent location inside France’s most famous museum, and is funded by the French government and by generous endowments from the governments of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman and Azerbaijan.