A video released on Thursday by the Islamic State group shows the destruction of ancient artifacts, books and manuscripts in Iraq’s Mosul Museum, indicating cultural attacks by extremists.
A man in the video gives the following reason for doing so: “Our prophet ordered us to remove all these statues as his followers did when they conquered nations.” The video, posted on Twitter, was put up with the IS group’s media arm logo.
“Oh Muslims, these artifacts that are behind me were idols and gods worshipped by people who lived centuries ago instead of Allah,” the bearded man added.
The location where the video was taken has been confirmed to the Associated Press by a professor at the Archaeology College in Mosul. The sites shown were indeed in the city museum and the Nirgal Gate, which leads to the capital of Ninevah, the Assyrian Empire.
“I’m totally shocked,” Amir al-Jumaili said, adding, “It’s a catastrophe. With the destruction of these artifacts, we can no longer be proud of Mosul’s civilization.”
The director general of UNESCO Irina Bokova shared how “deeply shocked” she was at the footage and how she has asked the president of the U.N. Security Council to call for an emergency meeting “on the protection of Iraq’s cultural heritage as an integral element for the country’s security.”
“I condemn this as a deliberate attack against Iraq’s millennial history and culture, and as an inflammatory incitement to violence and hatred,” Bokova said.
New York U.N. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric informed that examination of the video is underway, adding, “The destruction of cultural heritage is reprehensible and criminal.”
The local population is seemingly not amused by such activity.
The nation’s heritage has also been a target by looters after Iraq fell to U.S. troops in April 2003, with unidentified men plundering the Iraqi National Museum. The U.S. faced criticism for failing to protect the site.