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How a Lyrical Response to Extremism Became the Oscars’ Most Misunderstood Nominee

Timbuktu paints a sensitive, knowing portrait of life under militant Islamic rule in Western Africa, one that’s already being misinterpreted.

Kidane and his family in their tent.

How far away, really, is Timbuktu?

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“If They Want to Ban Our Music, They Will Have to Kill Us First”

In the aftermath of political upheaval, Mali struggles to preserve its Islamic heritage

©UNESCO/Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Timbuktu, Sankore (Mali) - 2005

Amid all of Mali’s recent violence and political upheaval, protecting its cultural heritage might seem like a relatively low priority. However, in 2012, extremists wrecked many of Timbuktu’s 500-year-old mausoleums, important artifacts integral to the history of Islam in North Africa. Ever since then, the restoration of the country’s architecture and other cultural patrimony has become a symbolic quest, seen as essential to preserving Mali’s identity.

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