A war on cultural heritage?

The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) has become notorious for slaughtering ethnic groups it despises in a horrific bid to culturally cleanse its territories. Now it has begun destroying antiquities and entire ancient cities, erasing the multicultural history of the Middle East.

In Iraq, ISIS recently smashed Mesopotamian treasures at the Mosul Museum, burned rare books and manuscripts in the Mosul Library, and bulldozed UNESCO World Heritage sites at Hatra and Nimrud, which were ancient Assyrian cities. This panel once decorated the imperial palace in Nimrud, and similar designs are now lost forever. 

The militants claim they’re honoring Koranic reproaches against idolatry, yet the facts don’t back this up: ISIS has sold other antiquities to fund itself, and ancient Assyrian monuments were respected by Muslim leaders for centuries. The reality appears to be a twisted interpretation of religious dogma used to justify intimidation and control.

—Tim Gihring, editor

March 11, 2015


Source: Associated Press, February 26, 2015