Sunday, July 30, 2006

Continuing suspicions on the targeting of Iraqi archeological sites

The last of these suspicions is sent through the Iraq-List crsis, through the Islamic Art listserv:

Cross-posted from the IraqCrisis list:--------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 08:53:56 -0500 (CDT)From: Charles E. Jones Uruknet's Iraqi Resistance Report for events of Thursday, 27 July 2006:
reports the following:"Al-Anbar Province.Al-Qa'im.US troops bulldoze 1,000-year old historic district in al-Qa'im,turn it into soccer field.In a dispatch posted at 2:55pm Makkah time Thursday afternoon,Mafkarat al-Islam reported that US occupation forces had demolisheda thousand-year old historic district dating back to the First AbbasidPeriod (762-833 C.E.) in the city of al-Qa'im near the Iraq-Syria border,turning it into a soccer field.The Baghdad correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported an announcementissued by the Department of Antiquities and signed by 'Abd al-Karim Falih,the department's director, on Thursday as saying that the Americans haddestroyed a historic district dating from the Abbasi period, completelyleveling it with bulldozers and other equipment.The Antiquities Department announcement said that the Americansbulldozed the area into a soccer field despite the fact that it wasfenced off with signs posted warning against going inside becauseit was a Historic Islamic Heritage District.The statement denounced the behavior of the Americans saying that thedistrict told the story of the Abbasid era, a time of great floweringof Arab-Islamic culture.Mafkarat al-Islam noted that the US forces have destroyed sevenhistorical sites dating back to the Abbasid era and even further back tothe earliest Islamic period. One of those was the Abbasid Caliph's palacein as-Saqlawiyah, another the historic area 30km west of al-Fallujahin which the Battle of Dhat al-'Uyun was fought by the early Muslimwarriors under Khalid ibn al-Walid who liberated the country from thePersian Empire. American forces also destroyed the 'Anah Citadel andthe Hit Citadel, as well as other centuries-old Islamic cites."I would be grateful to anyone who might be able to verify the newspaperreport or the Antiquities Department announcement which are apparentlythe source of this information.
Thanks,-Chuck Jones-Iraqcrisis mailing list -

The following is a message related to the above though not an "answer"

This doesn't exactly answer your question, but embroiders it:In a 2005 ICOMOS Heritage at Risk (Iraq) report, Ihsan Fethi stated that only 7 Abbasid monuments, "most of which have been altered or heavily restored,") remain.Although the article that you mentioned says that "Mafkarat al-Islam noted that the US forces have destroyed sevenhistorical sites dating back to the Abbasid era and even further back tothe earliest Islamic period," it's unsure if their "sites" correspond to the ICOMOS "monuments."The ones cited by the ICOMOS report are:"...the Abbasid Palace, Mustansiryia Madrasa, the minaret of Khafafin Mosque, the minaret of Qumriya Mosque, Zumarrad Khatun's Shrine, Omar al-Sahrawardi's Shrine and Mosque, and the Wastani Gateway."The Directorate of Antiquities (same as the "Department of Antiquities," below ?) is described (2005) as having a "...negative and even destructive history," including allowing "...the rebuilding of Babylon, the reconstruction of several monuments in Abassid Samarra, the demolition of the historic citadel of Rawa to make way for a new Presidential Palace, and the drowning of the old towns of Ana and Rawa by the Qadisiya Dam in 1987."

I must say that urukinfo is not quite independent as a news source. The same should be said about mafkarat al-Islam. This, however, could not be a reason for not trying to check more seriously on what happened. The "Iraqi Department of Antiquities" is the only source that should be able (legally and professionally) to answer these suspicions. There is a problem: the "director" of the "Iraq Department of Antiquities" (hay'at al-athar al-iraqiyyah) is until at least January 2006 Donny Georges (according to this link: last entry) and not "abd al-Karim Falih".


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