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Heritage destruction sectarian conflict under the ‘Islamic State’
reportposted on 01.01.2016, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan, T J Al-deen
Recent years have seen the people of the Middle East endure an extraordinary period of heritage destruction, a significant reduction in social cohesion and a corresponding upsurge in horrific violence. Various heritage sites are being deliberately destroyed by ISIS and other jihadist groups with devastating efficiency and on an industrial scale. The destruction of heritage sites is fracturing the cultural diversity present in the region and inciting violent retaliation attacks by certain groups. Historical examples in Iraq – such as the 2006 and 2007 bombing of the Al-Askari mosque – demonstrate the fact that heritage destruction can trigger a devastating wave of bloody sectarian violence. There is evidence that recent ISIS attacks on specific heritage sites has had similar consequences. Therefore, any effort, including that by the Australian Department of Defence, to defeat ISIS and other militant groups across the Middle East, must address this significant issue. More research is urgently needed to understand the precise nature, scope and variety of heritage destruction across the Middle East, the extent to which it is inciting people to sectarian violence, and to consider Australia’s role in international strategies to staunch this ongoing problem.