Daniel Pipes: Islam Bulldozes the Past

After the 1974 invasion, Turkish forces made many churches in northern Cyprus fit only for animals.

The recent bulldozing by the Islamic State (ISIS) of the ancient cities of Nimrud, Hatra, and Korsabad, three of the world’s greatest archaeological and cultural sites, is just this group latest round of assaults across the large area under its control. Since January 2014, the flamboyantly barbaric ISIS has blown up Shi’i mosques, bulldozed churches, pulverized shrines, and plundered museums.

Worse, the ISIS record fits into an old and common pattern of destruction of historical artifacts by Muslims.

Some attacks target the works of other, rival religions, such as Orthodox churches in northern Cyprus (since 1974), the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan (in 2001), the Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia (2002), an historic Hindu temple in Malaysia (2006), and the Assyrian antiquities (“idols”) in Mosul (2015). On a personal level, a Saudi national smashed historic statues at the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple in Tokyo in 2014. Nor is this danger over: Islamic leaders have bruited plans to destroy Persepolis in Iran, St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

In some cases, conquerors turn non-Islamic holy places into Islamic ones, thereby asserting the supremacy of Islam. This can be done by converting them into Islamic sanctities, such as the Kaaba in Mecca, the Cathedral of St. John in Damascus, and the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; or building on top of them, such as Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India…

Share