The Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls large areas of both Iraq and Syria, continues to destroy religious sites in the city of Mosul in an effort to eradicate all competing religious groups and their symbols from the city.
On July 24 the Islamic State destroyed the Nabi Yunus Mosque, which had housed the Tomb of Jonah, after destroying the tomb itself earlier this month. Islamic State fighters wired the mosque with explosives and detonated the religious site in broad daylight.
Jonah is recognized as a prophet in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and his tomb was visited and revered by members of all three religions.
The imam of Mosul’s Arahma mosque said that 23 men who had led protests yesterday against the bombing of the Yunus Mosque were flogged by the terror group.
Yesterday, the Islamic State demolished the mosque of the prophet Seth, a son of Adam and Eve, who is also recognized as an important historical and religious figure by all three religions.
Video of the destruction of the two mosques was published on YouTube by News of Iraq.
The demolition of the two religious sites is the latest in the Islamic State’s campaign to destroy tombs and gravesites. More than two dozen religious sites are said to have been destroyed in Mosul since the Islamic State took control of the city on June 10. The Islamic State believes that worshiping at tombs and graves is forbidden in the Koran, and is a form of idol worship.
In early June, the terror group ordered the destruction of all churches in Mosul, and on June 16 a European Union delegation confirmed that the Islamic State had burned down several churches in the city and raped five Iraqi girls.
On July 4, Iraqi News reported that Islamic State fighters had dug up the tomb of the prophet Jonah and destroyed it. According to Ninevah official Zuhair al-Chalabi, the terror group had on that same day “torched 11 churches and monasteries out of 35 scattered across the city of Mosul, and hours later destroyed statues of poets, literary and historical figures of which Mosul has long been proud.” Three Sunni clerics who had tried to resist the Islamic State were murdered.
On July 5, the same day that the Islamic State released video of its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi addressing followers at a historic Mosul mosque, the group released photos documenting its destruction of at least four Sufi or Sunni shrines as well as six Shiite mosques in Nineveh. Residents of Mosul reported that Islamic State fighters also took over both the Chaldean and the Syrian Orthodox cathedrals in the city, replacing crosses in the two sanctuaries with the terror group’s black flag.
Four days later, video appeared on YouTube showing Islamic State fighters taking a sledgehammer to the tomb of Jonah in Mosul.
The Islamic State isn’t the first jihadist group to act in such a manner. In 2001, the Taliban blew up the ancient Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, destroyed tombs and graves when it took control of areas of southern Yemen in 2011. And al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its two affiliates, Ansar Dine and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, razed religious sites, tombs, and a historical library after seizing control of northern Mali in 2012.
The Islamic State has sought to impose its will on Mosul since taking control of the city last month. First, the group announced that it would impose sharia, or Islamic law, and ordered women to cover themselves.
Last week, the Islamic State issued an ultimatum to Christians in Mosul. Christians were given a choice to convert to Islam, remain in the city and pay a tax; leave the city; or be killed. Almost all of the Christians in Mosul, numbering in the thousands, are reported to have left the city. Many have sought refuge in areas controlled by Kurdish forces. It is widely reported that Islamic State fighters have robbed fleeing Christians of their cash, jewelry, and other possessions as well as taken over their houses.
Mosul, a city where Christians have lived for nearly 2,000 years and which was formerly home to the highest concentration of Christians in Iraq, is now virtually empty of them.