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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2002 > January
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 11, 2002


Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation Supports Timbuktu Islamic Manuscript Preservation; U.S. Embassy Observes "Day of The Book" In Mali

The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, is supporting the preservation of Islamic manuscripts that date from the 13th century through the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project in Mali.  Some of the preserved texts are based on Qur’anic teachings on tolerance and conflict resolution that were used by “ambassadors of peace,” a corps of Islamic diplomats or Holy Men, who traveled across Africa en route to Mecca.

“Through this effort to preserve the Timbuktu Manuscripts, the Islamic ‘ambassadors of peace’ message of tolerance and conflict resolution will have even greater exposure and relevance today,” said Patricia S. Harrison, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.  “Heritage preservation projects allow us to work closely with our international partners, and to affirm our respect for other cultures as we jointly identify sites, objects and forms of traditional expression in critical need of preservation.”

An integral part of U.S. support for this effort was the “Day of the Book” celebration in Bamako, Mali, on January 10, to educate Malians in conservation and preservation techniques and the importance of the Islamic manuscripts from the Timbuktu project.  Mali’s First Lady and eminent Africa historian, Adama Ba Konare, was honorary sponsor of the event.   The texts on conflict resolution were on view for the first time for Mali’s predominately Muslim population and Bamako’s international community.  The U.S. Embassy sponsored a series of articles on conflict resolution and tolerance using material from the historical Islamic manuscripts in Timbuktu.  Participants viewed the preserved texts, participated in educational activities and celebrated Malian cultural heritage.

“I am proud that the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation assisted in the preservation of these rare and endangered documents,” said U.S. Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger at the celebration held at the American Cultural Center.  “I am particularly happy to be able to support today’s event, the Day of the Book, to increase public awareness of and appreciation for this important aspect of Malian history and culture.  Preservation of the documents will not only prevent the tragic loss of these works, but also can provide employment and aid economic development and promote tourism.  Through our support of this project, the government and people of the United States would like to show our support for the culture and traditions of Mali and for these treasures of Islam.”

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, phone (202)-203-5107, e-mail cstearns@pd.state.gov.


Released on January 11, 2002

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