Islamic State Targets Heritage, Cultural Treasures


2015.03.20
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Tourists are evacuated during a terrorist attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, March 18, 2015. [AFP]

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A day after the attack, journalists gather inside the Bardo National Museum, which is known for its roman mosaics. [AFP]

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The mother of Tunisian policeman Aymen Morjane, who was killed in the attack on the museum, mourns her son’s death, March 19, 2015.

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This map shows cultural sites attacked or threatened by IS in Iraq. [AFP]

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A statue of a winged bull with a human face stands in Nimrud, Iraq, April 21, 2001. IS has reportedly razed the ancient city. [AFP]

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In this image grabbed from an online video, Islamic State (IS) militants use sledgehammers to smash an ancient Assyrian statue housed in the Nineveh Museum in Mosul, Iraq. [AFP]

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Iraqi Salem Harush Kadori, guardian of the ancient city of Hatra, points to one of its temples, April 21, 2003. Hatra also has been reportedly bulldozed by IS. [AFP]

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In another screengrab, IS militants topple an ancient statue as they go about destroying artefacts in the Nineveh Museum. [AFP]

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Flowers lie on bloodstains in front of Tunis’s Bardo National Museum, March 19, 2015. [AFP]  

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A Tunisian woman holds a placard reading in Arabic, "No to terrorism. We will no longer remain silent for the death of our children," outside the Bardo National Museum, March 19, 2015. [AFP]

This week’s killing of 21 people at the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia is the latest in a series of attacks by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group on cultural institutions and archaeological treasures dating back thousands of years.

IS claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack in the Tunisian capital.

“The Bardo Museum is a place open to all; a place of discovery and dialogue between cultures. This cowardly act is a denial of these principles and must unite us even more in the combat against extremism,” Irina Bokova, director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), told reporters in Paris in the hours after two gunmen carried out the massacre.

"We must get the message across that democracy is transmitted through culture, through dialogue.”

Earlier in March, according to reports, IS militants bulldozed the ancient cities of Hatra and Nimrud, which lie in the war zone held by the group in modern day Iraq.

Late last month, IS released an online video showing its members smashing statues from the Assyrian civilization housed in a museum in Mosul, Iraq.

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