ISIS defends demolition of Iraqi shrines

People walk through the rubble of the Prophet Younis Mosque after it was destroyed in a bomb attack by militants of the Islamic State, in the city of Mosul, July 24, 2014. (Reuters)

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria defended Tuesday its destruction of religious sites in the Iraqi city of Mosul on the grounds that the use of mosques built on graves amounted to idolatry.

“The demolition of structures erected above graves is a matter of great religious clarity,” the jihadist group said in a statement posted on one of its main websites.

“Our pious predecessors have done so … There is no debate on the legitimacy of demolishing or removing those graves and shrines,” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said.

It cited the demolition by Mohammed bin Abdel Wahhab — founder of the puritanical Wahhabist brand of Islam followed by jihadists — of a dome erected above the tomb of Zaid ibn al-Khattab.

Khattab’s reputedly heroic death on the battlefield earned him a posthumous following which Abdel Wahhab argued was tantamount to polytheism.

ISIS, which announced the restoration of the caliphate last month by declaring its sovereignty over land it has seized in Syria and Iraq, has levelled several of Mosul’s most prominent religious landmarks…

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