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Layers of religious and political iconoclasm under the Islamic State: symbolic sectarianism and pre-monotheistic iconoclasm

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2018, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan, Antonio Gonzalez Zarandona
This article examines the heritage destruction undertaken by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. To date, their iconoclasm has been mostly characterised either as acts of wanton barbarism devoid of religious or political justification, or as a cynical performance designed as a mass media spectacle. Drawing on a systematic analysis of two key IS propaganda outlets – their on-line magazine, Dabiq, and the various slick films released by Al-Hayat – this article argues that the heritage destruction perpetrated by the IS are not only situated within a carefully articulated theological framework and key to the creation of a new and ideologically pure ‘Islamic State’, but that they are also constituted by several complex layers of religious and political iconoclasm. To demonstrate, this article documents the iconoclasm undertaken by the IS along two key axes: Symbolic Sectarianism (Shia and Sufi mosques and shrines); and Pre-Monotheistic Iconoclasm (ancient polytheistic sites). Attacks on key sites within these categories, such as the Sayyida Zaynab shrine in Damascus or the Mosul Museum, not only adhere to their religious and political framework but also serve broader geo-political agendas and are attacked as proxy targets for their physical and ideological opponents.

History

Journal

International journal of heritage studies

Volume

24

Issue

1

Pagination

1 - 16

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Location

Abingdon, Eng.

ISSN

1352-7258

eISSN

1470-3610

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2017, The Authors