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The First Shrine of Its Kind in Iraq Is Destroyed

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At left, the tomb of Shia ‘Uqaylid amir Sharaf ad-Dawla Muslim, at right, its apparent rubble (images via Iraqi Press Agency)

Nearly a thousand years old — the “first of its kind in Iraq,” according to Archnet, and one of the last six standing, according to Iraq Heritage — the distinctive muqarnas-domed mausoleum is now a statistic. The tomb of Shia ‘Uqaylid amir Sharaf ad-Dawla Muslim is one of a number of sites that have been destroyed recently. Preceded by the Shrine of Arbaeen Wali (for 40 martyrs in the Islamic conquest of Tikrit) and the Syrian Orthodox “Green Church” of Mar Ahudama in late September, followed by the Yezidi Shrine of Memê Reşan (Meme Reshan) in late October, the Mausoleum of Imam al-Daur was destroyed by the Islamic State on October 23.

First reported in English by Iraq Heritage on October 25, its name, which was only included in the Arabic copy of the text, did not transliterate to the standard form, and was impossible to check against reliable records, while Iraq Heritage’s photos of the site after its destruction were so recent that it was impossible to use them to reverse search for Arabic-language news reports.

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Undated image of the tomb of Shia ‘Uqaylid amir Sharaf ad-Dawla Muslim (image via Wikimapia)

Its destruction was next reported — responsibly, but unavoidably without material evidence — under an alternative transliteration of the name, Imman ed-Dor, on the basis of informant testimony, by archaeologist Lamia Al Gailani Werr. Then it was reported under yet another transliteration, Imam Dur, again without photographic evidence, by UNESCO. Complicating matters, at the same time, Al-Dostor News misrepresented a photograph of the destroyed Mosque of Yunus as a photograph of the destroyed mausoleum.

Nevertheless, there is convincing photographic evidence. And, comparing the original reporting and photographs from the scene of the crime, by the Arabic-language Iraq Press Agency, with Google Images’ satellite view of the site and Sinan Jassim’s alternative photographic perspectives of the site before its destruction, there is no contradiction between the features in any of the images. It seems that the Shrine of Imam al-Daur has been destroyed.

The destruction of the Shia Shrine of Imam al-Daur shows that the Islamic State appears to continues to be intent on and capable of waging genocidal wars on multiple fronts. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova stated that “intentional targeting and systematic destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq is reaching unprecedented levels” and insisted that “cultural cleansing underway in Iraq must stop.”

“The persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, combined with the systematic destruction of some of the most iconic representations of Iraq’s rich and diverse heritage, testifies to an ideology of hatred and exclusion … Such acts are war crimes and their perpetrators must be [held] accountable for their actions. UNESCO stands by all Iraqis in their efforts to safeguard their heritage,” Bokova said.

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