PMP’s Arts on Islamic State and Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage in the modern, civilised world is a means of artistic appreciation throughout history. One may stand in awe upon confronting the very foundations of modern civilisation. Sadly, however, extremists are not interested in culture, nor the devotion and effort others have put into the creation of something great. Above all, extremists as such

isis-destroy-churchCultural heritage in the modern, civilised world is a means of artistic appreciation throughout history. One may stand in awe upon confronting the very foundations of modern civilisation. Sadly, however, extremists are not interested in culture, nor the devotion and effort others have put into the creation of something great. Above all, extremists as such are utterly disrespectful and destructive. This is the case for the so-called Islamic State (IS).

The illegitimate Islamic State and its jihadi supporters were never keen on protecting or preserving cultural heritage of their own, mind the heritage as such belonging to other civilisations. Iraq, Syria and Libya so far have suffered at the destruction of dozens of important religious buildings, even mosques. These include the great mosques of Prophet Yunus and Prophet Jerjis in Iraq, which were plundered and destroyed with the takeover of the city of Mosul, Iraq, by the jihadi terror army, whereas a propaganda video which was released by the extremists shows how the jihadi army attacks a 3000-year-old archaeological site with sledgehammers, power tools and explosives.

The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict has been ratified by a number of states (126 states in 2014), yet the treaty has not been properly enforced. Despite international condemnation by both Muslim scholars and other experts, the Islamic State still chooses to violate all that is righteous and civil. UNESCO believes that the Islamic State wishes to proceed with various forms of “cultural cleansing”.

By mid-May 2015, the self-proclaimed and illegitimate caliphate had conquered the Ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, home to thousands of statues and artefacts, including some 2000 Ancient Roman buildings. Additionally, media outlets reported in April that the Ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq was allegedly bulldozed by the Islamic State too.

So, why does this terror movement hate all these archaeological sites and artefacts so much? Mark Vlasic of Georgetown University Law Center says that the criminal organisation destroys antiquities in order to “use the smokescreen of destruction to cover themselves while they move more transportable items for profit”.

Moreover, National Geographic has hinted that the Islamic State is inherently evil and it reports that the latter simply wishes to establish itself as “heir to a legacy of idol destruction”. Their primary focus lies on Islamic sites and heritage that are not compatible with their own strict Sunni interpretation of Islam, as well as any pre-Islamic heritage, including those sites belonging to the region’s religious minorities (e.g. Yazidis, Kurds, Christians).

These war crimes committed by the Islamic State are horrifying and preposterous in the face of mankind. Numerous treasures have been lost to the extremist militants, several buildings have been brought down to the ground, and statues and artefacts have fallen to shreds. It is such a shame to lose all these beautiful sites and treasures to the hands of the uncivilised, where fanaticism, terror, pain and blood are today’s oil for the ongoing war machine that drifts and divides civilisations apart.

Further reading:

 

About PMP’s Arts:
PMP’s Arts is a series of articles exploring the relationship between the arts and politics. If you would like to contribute to Arts, please email alexandra@polticsmadepublic.com.

Posts Carousel

Latest Posts