UNESCO chief deplores iconic mosque’s destruction in Iraq’s Mosul

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UNITED NATIONS, June 23 (APP): The head of the United Nations cultural
agency has deplored the destruction of historic religious architecture in Iraq’s Mosul city
by ISIL/Da’esh fighters.
“The Al Hadba Minaret and AlNuree Mosque in Mosul were among the most
iconic sites in the city, and stood as a symbol of identity, resilience and belonging,” Irina
Bokova, the Director General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), said in a statement.
“When Da’esh targeted the mosque and minaret a few months ago, the
people of Mosul formed a human chain to protect the site, proving once again that the
protection of heritage cannot be delinked from the protection of human lives,” she
added.
Located in the Old City area of western Mosul, the Great Mosque of
al-Nuree was considered one of the main historical mosques in Iraq. It was originally built
by Nureddine Zangi in 1172AD, during the Abbasid Caliphate.
It underwent several renovations and restorations throughout the years.
Its outstanding iconic feature was the leaning minaret known as al-Hadba (the
hunchback), which had retained its authentic architectural and structural features for
hundreds of years.
“This new destruction deepens the wounds of a society already affected
by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy, with three million internally displaced persons
and 6.2 million in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. This calls for immediate
and strengthened international mobilization,” the Director-General said.
Since the Iraqi Government’s launch of an offensive to oust ISIL from
Mosul in October 2016, around 750,000 to 800,000 people have been displaced from
the city. Many are trapped or being used as human shields.
“Despite all odds, the spirit of resilience embodied by al-Hadba must
prevail and UNESCO will continue to stand by the people of Iraq to regain their heritage
and fight back against all forms of extremism and violence through culture, education
and human rights,” Ms. Bokova declared.