This picture is a caption from a video released by the so-called Islamic State end of February 2015, filmed inside the museum at Mosul as well
as at the Niniveh architectural site in Iraq. Its followers are seen destroying
artefacts from the Assyrian Empire (seventh century BCE), as well as
from the Kingdom of Hatra (second century CE).

Those acts of barbarism might look backwardly, but they are
in fact radically modern in nature. Just like Pol Pot, Mao Zedong,
Stalin and Hitler, these proponents of fundamentalist
Islam believe in the power to destroy the past to build a radiant future. Only in the case of Daesh, their future is the idealised version of an Islamic past.

In a terrible irony, we have crossed paths with similar artefacts on this blog before. It is not surprising that Daesh is targeting such cultural remnants, be it in Iraq or in Syria. They represent both the grandeurs of a pre-Islamic past and the fruitful mingling and meeting of different cultures.

Throughout
history, it has of course been common practice to destroy remnants of
conquered civilisations, to kill all men and to enslave women and
children, to leave no trace behind of what may have once existed.

The
modern variant, propagated by Daesh or by its totalitarian predecessors, is
slightly more chilling. The destruction of people, paintings,
buildings, artefacts, books, of all heritage is meant to wipe out anything
opposed to a vision where there will be no longer any differences in
terms of class or race or culture. All that is different will have been destroyed.

It is a declaration of war to humanity.

Johanna M

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