The Islamic State’s (ISIS) Destruction of Shrines in Historical Perspective

Ballandalus

Over the past several months, people around the world have watched with horror as the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, murdering thousands (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/18/iraqi-civilian-death-toll-5500-2014-isis ) and displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in the process (http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/19/world/meast/iraq-refugee-statistics/ ). One of the most disturbing aspects of ISIS political control of conquered regions—aside from the obvious policy of mass murder, forced exile and the instituting of a terrifying version of Islamic law—has been the group’s systematic destruction of the cultural and religious heritage of northern Iraq and eastern Syria. In the past few weeks alone, numerous Alid shrines, the tomb of the great Muslim mystic Ahmad al-Rifa’i (d. 1182), and the shrines of the Prophet Yunus (Jonas) (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/25/isis-jonah-tomb_n_5620520.html), the Prophet Seth (http://conflictantiquities.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/iraq-mosul-islamic-state-destruction-shrine-seth/ ) and Nabi Jirjis (St. George) (

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