In this ancient city that has become synonymous with the ends of the earth, the recent terrorism of Islamist extremists belies long years of peaceful Muslim-Christian coexistence.
"This city is 99 percent Muslim, but all of us are tolerant. We preach tolerance. Islam teaches us to respect all religions," Abdrahamane Ben Essayouti, the chief imam of the fabled desert city, told Catholic News Service.
The Rev. Moha Ag Oyahitt agrees. He's a Baptist pastor who fled Timbuktu for Bamako, the nation's capital, when the al-Qaida-linked terrorists took over the town.