The monastery was originally built in the fourth century
(Image, Catholic Herald)
Islamic State (IS) have posted images on social media alleging that they have bulldozed the Saint Eliane Monastery, near the town of Qaryatain. The Guardian reports,
“a Christian clergyman, who spoke on Friday on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said Isis militants also wrecked a an Assyrian Catholic church inside the monastery that dates to the first Christian centuries.”
The Catholic Herald also raises concerns for the wellbeing of Fr Jacques Mourad, one of six clergy kidnapped in Syria and states,
“ISIS has also kidnapped 230 people including dozens of Christian families after taking Qaryatain. Of those captured, 48 had been released and 110 were transferred to Raqqa province, the headquarters of the Islamist group.”
Last week, Khaled al-Asaad (82) a renowned antiquities scholar was allegedly beheaded in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and according to the Guardian, militants “hung his mutilated body on a column in a main square of the historic site because he apparently refused to reveal where valuable artefacts had been moved for safekeeping.”
Although there is much condemnation, this is hypocritical given the numbers of civilians deliberately killed by Britain and US allies in World War II. At that time also, the destruction of churches was part of British policy to distress the enemy, Germany.
The burning cathedral in Lubeck – the Nazis sought to make a propaganda issue out of the burning of the historic heart of the city
(Image WW II today website)
Take a look back at history, three main churches in Lubeck, were destroyed as part of an Area Bombing Directive issued to the RAF on 14 February 1942 which authorized the targeting of civilian areas. This directive “ordered RAF bombers to attack the German industrial workforce and the morale of the German populace through bombing German cities and their civilian inhabitants.” The government did not care that the elderly, the sick and children would be annihilated or that old and treasured buildings would be razed to the ground. A British air raid attacked the city on 28–29 March 1942 which was the night of Palm Sunday when many would be at worship. St Mary’s Church located in the Hanseatic merchants’ quarter was caught up in a firestorm which also destroyed much of Lubeck city centre including the Cathedral and St Peter’s Church. This struck at the heart of those living within this region which was the stated intention. What Bashar al -Assad is doing now in bombing Syria, Britain also did during the 2nd world war.
Frauenkirche struck by Allied bombing in February 1945
(Image Deano World Travels)
Neither must we forget the controversial bombing of Dresden in which an estimated 22,000 to 25,000 people lost their lives, many of them civilians. Critics argued that the attacks were “indiscriminate” and “not proportionate to the commensurate military gains”. Dresden Cathedral, pride of the city was also targeted and much of the building demolished. The Washington Post reported that,
“for 47 years, Dresden residents had known the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, as a 43-foot-high mound of rubble flanked by two jagged walls. That was all that remained after British and U.S. planes strafed the city with firebombs on the night of Feb. 13-14, 1945.”
After standing as a ruin and memorial site, the Frauenkirche was finally rebuilt and reopened on 30th October 2005.
Britain and US must be careful when moralizing… whatever atrocities IS is carrying out, it is usually a variation on what has gone before. First we must examine our own history and remember the crimes of the state.
“Beheaded Syrian scholar refused to lead Isis to hidden Palmyra antiquities”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.