Foreign

July 17, 2023

Iraqis enraged as gov demolishes 300-yr-old mosque’s minaret for road expansion

Iraqis enraged as gov demolishes 300-yr-old mosque’s minaret for road expansion

There has been outrage in Iraq’s southern city of Basra as Governor Asaad Al Eidani, oversaw the demolition of a 300-year-old minaret of a mosque on Friday.

Al Eidani argued the demolition of the minaret was to ensure road expansion as it had caused traffic problems for years.

According to Reuters, the locals including religious and cultural authorities were enraged as they said it was a further erosion of Iraq’s cultural heritage.

Constructed in 1727, the 11-metre (36 ft) Siraji minaret and its mosque were toppled by a bulldozer at dawn on Friday morning, its brown mud-brick spire with turquoise ornaments disappearing in a cloud of dust.

Plans by the Basra governor to remove the minaret to end a traffic bottleneck in the city were known to religious and cultural authorities, including the Sunni Muslim endowment and antiquities officials, but they said it was supposed to be preserved and relocated, rather than destroyed.

“All peoples preserve their heritage and history and here they destroy our history and heritage?” Basra resident Majed al Husseini said, standing by the rubble of the mosque.

Much of Iraq’s rich cultural heritage – dating back thousands of years to some of the world’s first empires in ancient Mesopotamia, and more recently to its Islamic history – has been degraded by neglect and years of conflict such as with Islamic State..

Culture Minister Ahmed al-Badrani told Reuters he had not given permission to destroy the Siraji Mosque’s minaret and that local antiquities authorities had agreed with the governor to relocate it.

The ministry would now seek to recover and preserve its remains and reconstruct a model, similar to what was being done with Mosul’s Al-Nuri mosque that was blown up by Islamic State in 2017.