Slamming sledgehammers. Toppling statues. Decimated artifacts. Detonating charges that flash in an instant, but destroy centuries of history. The images coming out of Palmyra, Syria, Mosul, Iraq, and other locations in the Levant viscerally illustrate how al-Dawla al-Islamiyya (a.k.a. ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh) is destroying shrines, statues, and sundry other artifacts as they establish their version of a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Reports and live video have flooded in over the past few months showing so-called Islamic State (IS) militants wrenching artifacts from museum walls, imploding sacred shrines and churches, and reducing historic effigies to rubble.
The most recent reports declare that the militants destroyed a UNESCO world heritage site & temple at Palmyra. While scholars and curators have come forth to attest that the some of these relics are replicas and that many more precious artifacts are hidden (indeed, an 82 year old curator was killed for keeping this information secret), there is still a potent sense of lost history and heritage in what some have termed, “horrific acts of vandalism” being perpetrated by IS.
The question is WHY? Could it be that underlying ISIS's destruction of temples and statues is a strain of doubt -- wondering if there is a God out there at all?
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