The recent bulldozing by the Islamic State (ISIS) of the ancient cities of Nimrud, Hatra, and Korsabad, three of the world’s greatest archaeological and cultural sites, is just this group latest round of assaults across the large area under its control. Since January 2014, the flamboyantly barbaric ISIS has blown up Shi’i mosques, bulldozed churches, pulverized shrines, and plundered museums.
Worse, the ISIS record fits into an old and common pattern of destruction of historical artifacts by Muslims.
Some attacks target the works of other, rival religions, such as Orthodox churches in northern Cyprus (since 1974), the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan (in 2001), the Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia (2002), an historic Hindu temple in Malaysia (2006), and the Assyrian antiquities (“idols”) in Mosul (2015). On a personal level, a Saudi national smashed historic statues at the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple in Tokyo in 2014. Nor is this danger over: Islamic leaders have bruited plans to destroy Persepolis in Iran, St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.