ISIS has continued to commit cultural vandalism, destroying irreplaceable historic works of art and brutally punishing those captured trying to smuggle the artefacts to safety.
Most seriously, the Syrian director of antiquities has reported the Islamic State (ISIS) destroyed the famed Lion of al-Lat, a 2,000-year-old, 15-tonne, sandstone monument to a pre-Muslim Arab goddess. The Guardian reports the remarks of director Maamoun Abdelkarim, who said every antiquity that could be carried had been removed from Palmyra before it fell to the Islamic State – but the Lion was too heavy.
They surrounded the lion with sandbags and boarded it up to protect it from fighting instead – just as many public statues in London were during the second world war blitz, but the Islamic State was determined to destroy the ancient carving. Abdelkarim called it “the most serious crime [IS has] committed against Palmyra’s heritage”.
Not satisfied with this vandalism, the Islamic State this week captured a smuggler attempting to remove a set of eight carvings, including classical statuettes, from Palmyra. After decreeing that the works of art were offensive under Sharia law, the items were destroyed by sledgehammer, with the smuggler being forced to take part. He was then whipped for his crimes.
In the video of the hammer attack on the statues released by the Islamic State, a large crowd can be seen cheering on the fighters as they swing the sledge-hammers.
The Islamist policy of destroying any works that appear to promote idolatry has seen the nascent Caliphate engaged on a wanton orgy of vandalism over its captured territory over the past year, with occupied museums having their works attacked with sledgehammers, and shot at with assault rifles. Breitbart reported earlier this year on their razing of the ancient cities of Hatra and Nimrud in Iraq, which were first looted for gold and then blown up. Bulldozers were later sent in to complete the job, according to eyewitness reports.
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