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He begins with yesterday's truck bombing of the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, "destroying priceless treasures of the largest Islamic museum in the world in an attempt to target a state security bureau. A 2012 report by Time magazine found that rebels were looting and smuggling ancient artifacts to fund the war effort.
Egypt's minister of antiquities declared that the museum had been 'completely destroyed'." But that is just the beginning: In August 2013, looters stole or damaged 1,060 of 1,089 objects housed at Egypt's Mallawi Museum in Minya, killing a security guard. As a result of the war, "all six of Syria's UNESCO World Heritage Sites have reportedly been damaged or destroyed." Aleppo was especially hit hard, losing its ancient market and parts of its historic Umayyad Mosque and citadel.
The story about conquering Muslims burning the ancient Library of Alexandria is apocryphal but otherwise Muslim rage against cultural and historical artifacts is real, persistent, and in need of explanation.
What is it about Islam that so often turns its adherents against their own patrimony?
Earlier last month, amid overwhelming criticism from public figures and nongovernmental organizations, the military wing of the Islamic movement of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, bulldozed a part of the ancient Anthedon Harbor in northern Gaza along the Mediterranean Sea.
Founded in 1972, the library held about 80,000 books, meaning 50,000 were burned. 25, 2014 update: In a variant on this weblog entry, Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi writes in "Regional strife destroying historical Arab treasures" at Al-Monitor surveying the recent toil on historical artifacts. Three years on, it is impossible to document the extent of the damage to the country's historical sites.The Anthedon seaport, which dates back over 3,000 years to the Mycenaean era, is considered one of the most important sites in the Middle East and is the oldest harbor in Gaza.It was designated an international heritage site by UNESCO in 2012.Consider some examples: In addition, some intentions to destroy antiquities (Khomeini contemplated razing Persepolis, a grand mufti of Egypt banned exhibiting statues) might yet be realized.(On the other hand, the story about Muslims burning the ancient Library of Alexandria appears apocryphal.) Finally, there is another pattern, turning non-Islamic holy places into Islamic ones.