UNESCO: “Deepest Concerns” for Mideast Christianity after Daesh/ISIL Razes oldest Iraqi Monastery

UNESCO | (Media Services) | – –

“I express my deepest concerns after the destruction of the Monastery of St Elijah. It was the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq and an invaluable testimony to the rich cultural and religious diversity of the country. For 1,400 years the monastery stood as a place of worship and meditation, accepted by people of all faiths. Its destruction is yet another violent attack against the Iraqi people which confirms the crimes against humanity suffered by the Christian population, and the extent of the cultural cleansing underway in Iraq,” said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.

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“Christianity was born in the Middle East, and is an integral part of the history of Iraq and the Iraqi People. Such deliberate destruction is a war crime and it must not stay unpunished. It also reminds us how terrified by history the extremists are, because understanding the past undermines the pretexts they use to justify these crimes and exposes them as expressions of pure hatred and ignorance. Despite their relentless crimes, extremists will never be able to erase history. The history of this region is known all over the world, and reminds us all that there is no ‘pure culture’. UNESCO remains committed to protecting the heritage of Iraq and leading the fight against the illicit traffic of cultural artefacts, which directly contributes to the financing of terrorism,” she added.

According to several sources and media reports, the monastery of Deir Mar Elia was destroyed in August 2014 and its destruction was only confirmed recently. The monastery is named for the Assyrian Christian monk — St. Elijah — who built it between 582 and 590 A.C. It was a holy site for Iraqi Christians for centuries, part of the Middle East Chaldean Catholic community, bearing witness to the religious diversity of the region, where people of all faiths have lived together for centuries. Iraq’s Christian population has dropped from 1.3 million in the early 2000s to 300,000 today.

Via UNESCO Media Services

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Luke Sheridan, Associate Press exclusive: Oldest Catholic Monastery In Iraq Is Razed

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3 Responses

  1. In the Qur’an, Allah says repeatedly that his orders and Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) are on an equal footing–both must be obeyed.

    Allah orders that when there is conflict, all churches, monasteries, synagogues and mosques–every place where the God of Abraham is worshiped–must be protected from destruction.

    It is related that Muhammad gave the following order (based on God’s commandment):

    “No bishop will be expelled from his bishopric, no monk from his monastery, no priest from his place of worship, and no pilgrim will be detained in his pilgrimage. None of their churches and other places of worship will be desolated or destroyed or demolished. No material of their churches will be used to build mosques or houses for the Muslims; any Muslim doing so will be regarded as recalcitrant to Allah and His Prophet. Monks and Bishops will be subject to no tax or indemnity whether they live in forests or on rivers, in the East or in the West, in the North or in the South. I give them my word of honor. They are on my promise and covenant and will enjoy perfect immunity from all sorts of inconveniences. Every help shall be given them in the repair of their churches. They shall be absolved of bearing arms. They shall be protected by the Muslims. Let this document be obeyed until Judgment Day.”

    The men of Da’esh (ISIS) carry a flag bearing the names of God and the Prophet Muhammad, and they call for the Qur’an to be studied and followed. But their violent beliefs and behaviour are NOT to be found in the true Qur’an revealed to the Prophet and neither Allah nor the Prophet has ordered them to be the renegades, blasphemers and heretics that they are.

    What Da’esh (ISIL) is doing is described in the Qur’an as “war against God and his Messenger” and as “spreading mischief (disorder) in the land”. The maximum shari’ah punishment for such actions is, according to the Qur’an, death.

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