Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi joined others in calling for the destruction of Egypt’s Great Sphinx and Pyramids. In a statement out this week, said it is a Muslim’s “religious duty” to destroy the monuments. The monuments are the only one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World still in existence.
Militants have looted and destroyed ancient cities as the terrorist group attempts to expand their self-proclaimed caliphate. Over the weekend, the Islamic State destroyed Hatra, Nimrud, and Khorsabad, three sites full of ancient artifacts. The spokesman of UNESCO called the demolitions “war crimes” as Iraqi officials blamed the international community for lack of support. The group has called for the destruction of shrines and tombs because they promote “idolatry,” though they also fund their terrorist activities by selling priceless antiques to collectors.
Ibrahim Al Kandari, a Kuwaiti Islamist preacher, also demanded the destruction of the pyramids and Sphinx. He claims “the great buildings should be destroyed to put an end to the worship of images.”
“The fact that early Muslims who were among prophet Mohammed’s followers did not destroy the pharaohs’ monuments upon entering the Egyptian soil, does not mean that we shouldn’t do it now,” he insisted.
A Qatari-owned online portal issued a fatwa against the pyramids and Sphinx in December 2012. Egyptian scholars denounced the fatwa at the time, but it is only now receiving international attention due to the Islamic State’s actions in recent months. The website Islam Web posted the fatwa. Al-Arabiya reported the website “is affiliated to the Qatari ministry of endowments, with Doha’s government website advising users seeking online fatwas to ‘enter the official website of Fatwa Center on Islam Web.’”
“The demolition of the pyramids and the sphinx is a religious duty,” said the fatwa. “(The destruction of) monuments is a duty by Sharia (Islamic) law, as many texts have stipulated … Texts on this issue are many and well-known but (implementing) them is restrained to one’s ability… And so, if it’s not possible to destroy the pyramids and the Sphinx as a result of the presence of an authority preventing that, Muslims would not be committing a sin.”
While many believe the pyramids and Sphinx are safe, security at the site has been compromised in recent months by far less sophisticated security threats than the Islamic State. Guards failed to catch Russian tourists, including a porn star, who filmed a pornographic video at the site. The video remained on three porno sites for over nine months. It caused outrage in the country and some claim the officials looked the other way.
“The film was shot in broad daylight and with the knowledge of the officials in charge of the area,” declared Osama Karar, the coordinator of Popular Front to Defend Antiquities in Egypt. “Where was security during this incident? There is supposed to be an engineering unit inside the pyramids, responsible for watching over the site.”