IS militants condemned for Mosul museum destruction

IS militants condemned for Mosul museum destruction
Islamic State group's smashing of priceless artefacts in name of Islam described as a "catastrophe" that has destroyed thousands of years of history.
2 min read
27 February, 2015
IS has destroyed many priceless artefacts [Getty]
Islamic State group militants have been condemned for destroying priceless ancient artefacts in the Nineveh museum in Mosul, saying they were idols.

IS fighters stormed the museum and used sledgehammers to destroy statues and artefacts, some of which predate the birth of Christ by thousands of years.

"They have destroyed the museum and nothing is left. The museum contained historical treasures that told the story of thousands of years of history," said Ahmad al-Obaidi.

According to Obaidi the group said it would only destroy the statues because they were idols being worshipped instead of Allah. However, they demolished everything, even the halls containing Ottoman and Abbasid artefacts. Some of the artefacts appear to have been sold to smugglers, he added.

A professor at the Archaeology College in Mosul told the AP news agency that IS fighters also attacked Nirgal Gate, one of several gates to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire.

"I'm totally shocked," Amir al-Jumaili told the agency. "It's a catastrophe. With the destruction of these artefacts, we can no longer be proud of Mosul's civilisation."

Witnesses told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the museum was being guarded by residents. However, IS fighters stormed the building after breaking in with sledgehammers.

The statues destroyed depicted historical figures such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar. Some were original while others were replicas of originals on display in Baghdad, eyewitnesses explained.

The Nineveh Museum contained priceless artefacts from the Babylonian, Assyrian, Chaldean and Akkadian eras, as well as Islamic artefacts from the early Islamic period to the Ottoman Empire.

The destruction of these artefacts is reminiscent of the Taliban's destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001. They were two historical statues of the Buddhas that were 53 and 38 meters tall.

IS has also recently blew up the central library in Mosul, one of Iraq's oldest cultural institutions that contained thousands of old manuscripts. It is estimated over 10,000 books were destroyed, including important documents detailing the history of the city. Locals report that valuable manuscripts were stolen from the library before it was destroyed.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.