Hollande denounces Timbuktu destruction at opening of Islamic Art wing in Louvre
French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday denounced the "unfathomable stupidity" of Islamist radicals who destroyed Muslim shrines at Timbuktu in northern Mali.
The French president referred to the destruction, while speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a new wing in the Louvre museum, entirely dedicated to Islamic art.
He said that looking at the numerous works of art, one could understand that “the best weapons to fight against fanaticism which claims to be Islamic can be found in islam itself.”
"The honour of Islamic civilisations is that they are older, more alive and more tolerant than some of those who today abusively claim to speak in their name," said Hollande.
The opening of the new wing, in the world’s largest museum, comes amid anti-Western protests throughout the Islamic world in reaction to the production in the United States of the film “The innocence of Muslims.”
Hollande also declared that “here in France, every time that the dignity of a human being, or freedom of speech is compromised, we will be there.”
There were clashes with police in central Paris on Saturday when around 200 people, including fundamentalist muslims held a demonstration against the film, without police authorisation.
Costing nearly 100 million euros, the new wing at the Louvre is funded by the French government and backed by handsome endowments from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman and Azerbaijan.
The project was first mooted by François Mitterand’s culture minister, Jack Lang, but the idea began to take shape during Jacques Chirac’s presidency.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy actually laid the first stone of the building, in 2008.
It groups 18,000 treasures from an area spanning from Europe to India and
includes the oldest love missive in the Islamic world.