Wednesday, 29 October 2014

"They Blow up Shrines, don't They?"

Another article on conflict antiquities from the Near East discussing the complex interrelationships between destruction and supplying objects for greedy collectors and dealers (Mary Chastain, 'ISIS Cashes in on Antiques from Shrines Destroyed in Iraq and Syria', Breitbart, 28 Oct 2014 ). It is not at all as simple as the antiquities dealers lobbyists claim, they deny that ISIL can be profiting in any degree from antiquities (similar to the ones they buy - for example in from Germany middlemen - 'no-questions-asked') because the whole populace is allegedly only interested in intolerant destruction.
The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) destroys Christian and Muslim shrines and tombs because of idolatry. However, the jihadists know the value of items and manage to sell them to Western antique collectors. [...]  Residents and gangs are allowed to loot the shrines, but they must give 20% to 50% of their profits to the Islamic State. “There is no doubt that looting and illicit trade in antiquities is highly lucrative, enough for ISIS to be deeply engaged and implicated in it,” said Shawnee State University Professor Amr Al-Azm. “Stopping this illicit trade in antiquities, therefore, must be an imperative, not only because it is a major source of income for terrorist organizations like ISIS, but also because it is causing irreparable damage to Syria’s cultural heritage.” [...] sell valuable antiques to fund their fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In 2013, conservationists said the rebels control the majority of Syria’s archeological areas. The leaders said they must sell the antiques in order to fight. Some pieces sell for $50,000.
But the Middle East antique ring expands farther than the Islamic State. The Syrian rebels
Blood antiquities from around the world end up in US and European markets ("Munich is one of the major cities within this web, along with Brussels and London"). Chastain quotes Michael Müller-Karpe, who calls for seizure of items that must be illicit, even if the source nation such as Syria, Turkey or Iraq does not submit a claim (which will be because the item was stolen without anyone knowing)

Vignette: picking over the ruins after the explosion, never know what you might find... 

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