In Mosul, another offense against humanity
It gave the world more proof of the nature of ISIS as an apocalyptic death cult whose only acts are those of murder and destruction.
By George J. Marlin
NEW YORK—This crime passed from the headlines all too quickly: on June 21, 2017, in an act of religious terrorism against Islam, ISIS blew up Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri with its historic leaning minaret—a medieval architectural and spiritual treasure.
It is an ironic and darkly fitting twist, as this was the very place where ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his one and only public appearance to announce the establishment of the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Amazingly, when ISIS first captured Mosul on June 10, 2014, it intended to destroy the mosque right there and then but the local Muslim population—not yet brought into full submission—formed a human chain around the al-Nuri and ISIS relented.
In the end, with Iraqi troops approaching the Old City and set to capture the symbolic heart of Mosul, ISIS committed yet another act of wanton barbarism. It gave the world more proof of the nature of ISIS as an apocalyptic death cult whose only acts are those of murder and destruction.
The obliteration of this religious treasure is added to a long list of destruction of some of the most sublime expressions of the human spirit. For ISIS, these were all symbols of idolatry, to be destroyed to make way for an insane utopia of an Islamic paradise.
Among the casualties: numerous ancient churches and monasteries, shrines, including the tomb of Jonah; world historical sites, like the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud; and archaeological marvels of the Roman era in Palmyra, Syria. Priceless treasures all that did not belong solely to a particular religion but to the heritage of the human race.
Would that the loss of al-Nuri and the imminent fall of Mosul signal the demise of ISIS. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi did not miss the symbolism: He called the act of destruction “an official announcement of their defeat.”
Regardless, the remaining fight against Islamic fundamentalism and its suicidal remnants will be long, both in the Middle East and around the world. May this latest nihilistic horror prompt the world community to be more united than ever before in standing up for life, faith and freedom.
Mr. Marlin, author of Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy (St. Augustine’s Press), is chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA, an international papal agency that is spearheading an effort to raise more than $200M to fund the resettlement of Iraqi Christians on the Nineveh Plains.