EgyptAir flight MS804

The war of ultrareligious zealots against cultural heritages in the Middle East

Islamic State insurgents have posted a video showing a 3,000-year-old temple being blown up at the Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq, in their latest assault on some of the world's greatest archaeological and cultural treasures.

The United Nations confirmed in a statement on Wednesday evening that satellite imagery showed "extensive damage to the main entrance" of the temple of Nabu, the Babylonian god of wisdom, reported Reuters.

Nimrud was a 13th century BC Assyrian city, located 30 km (20 miles) south of the modern city of Mosul, which the hardline Islamic State militants seized control of in June 2014.

The date of the Islamic State video was unclear and Reuters could not independently verify its authenticity.

It also showed scenes of bulldozers razing the ancient Gate of Nergal, part of the historic Nineveh city wall in Mosul, which was reported earlier this year.

A bearded man in the video said that the destruction was meant to prevent Muslims from returning to idolatry. The group considers all pre-Islamic culture idolatrous, along with any religion outside its own radical interpretation of Sunni Islam.

As well as destroying Assyrian and Roman-era sites in northern Iraq, it blew up temples and other ancient buildings in the desert city of Palmyra in neighboring Syria. It is also suspected of raising funds from selling artifacts.

The latest evidence of destruction comes as the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces are preparing an offensive to retake Mosul with support from the U.S.-led coalition.

In the last two years archaeologists say Islamic State has inflicted incalculable damage to historic sites which they say form part of the world's shared history.

The Islamic State (Isis) last week threatened to destroy the Sphinx and the Egyptian pyramids in its latest pledge, made on video, to step up their attacks on ancient cultures. It follows Isis (Daesh)'s recent destruction of other 'heretical' sites in Nimrud, Mosul and Palmyra and is part of their hard-line interpretation that pre-Islamic culture is 'blasphemous'.

The video affirmed that Isis (Daesh) believe that it is their religious duty to destroy the Egyptian pyramids and Sphinx. The extremists currently have a presence in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which they have claimed as the territory "Wilayat Sayna".

On 26 May, a team of French architects and archaeologists arrived in Syria to help rebuild Krak des Chevaliers, a historic castle in western Homs partially destroyed by clashes. The French experts were invited by Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s antiquities chief who has also been instrumental in salvaging UNESCO sites in recently liberated Palmyra. Krak des Chevaliers castle – another UNESCO site – was seized by rebels in 2014 but subsequently recaptured by government troops, leaving it heavily damaged by mortar fire.

Armweeklynews [10.06.2016]
The war of ultrareligious zealots against cultural heritages in the Middle East