SHAFAQNA – In yet another gruesome display of religious intolerance and violence, Daesh aka ISIL targeted a Christian monastery in Iraq. A 1400 years architectural marvel, the monastery was mercilessly earmarked for destruction, on account Daesh Wahhabist ideology.
Satellite images released on Wednesday by the Associated Press showed just a pile of rubble where St Elijah’s Monastery used to stand on a hill above Mosul, Isis’s stronghold in Iraq.
The monastery had survived as a place of Christian worship for almost one-and-a-half millenia, predating Islam itself, and had only suffered superficial damage throughout the country’s most recent conflicts.
An historically significant site, the partially restored 27,000-square-foot stone building had 26 distinct rooms including a sanctuary and chapel. It still had niches where monks used to tuck candles, and the fourth century Greek “Chi-Rho” symbol, representing the name of Jesus Christ, was still visible carved into its right gatepost.
Christ means lord, as in leader, master in Greek.
The monastery had previously served as a rallying place of worship for US soldiers before it fell in the hands of radicals in June 2014.
“Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled,” said Iraq-based Catholic priest Rev Paul Thabit Habib. “We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.”
The demolition itself appears to have taken place at some point between August and September 2014, image analyst Stephen Wood told AP.
Images show the stone walls “have been literally pulverized”, he said. “Bulldozers, heavy equipment, sledgehammers, possibly explosives turned those stone walls into this field of gray-white dust. They destroyed it completely.”
Daesh has saught to destroy sites like St Elijah’s Monastery (Dair Mar Elia in Arabic) across Syria and Iraq since its reign of terror began in earnest in early 2013.
The group seeks to wipe out Islamic and non-Islamic history, calling all religious shrines even to other sects within Islam idolatrous.
Most infamously, it has destroyed whole swathes of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria since it overran it in August 2015.
The terror group has blown up three tower tombs in the city and in September destroyed the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel by filling it with explosions leaving a solitary arch standing. This came after they destroyed the Temple of Baalahamin.