Demolition of 300-year-old minaret in Iraq spurs anger
Heritage officials express anger after a 300-year-old minaret was destroyed in Iraq to make way for a road expansion.
Locals and cultural officials are outraged by the destruction of a 300-year-old minaret, which they believe amounts to "the destruction of Iraqi cultural history," according to Art Newspaper.
The minaret, a roughly 40-foot tower made of brown mud bricks belonging to a mosque, was removed at the request of Basra's governor, Assad Al Eidani, who said it was a public safety problem and was prone to collapse.
However, the Sunni endowment, which owns both the land and the mosque, as well as officials from the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), claim that the destruction violates an agreement reached with the city government under which the tower would have been preserved and relocated to a new mosque in a different location, as the city government was planning for a road expansion.
“We are shocked by this action,” Laith Majid Hussein, the director of SBAH, told the Art Newspaper, adding that “The minaret was of great significance. It was in very good condition and one of the few intact minarets of its era.”
The tower's remains are still on-site at the mosque and, according to Hussein, there is talk of "legal action" against the Basran government. He says the main priority, however, is the preservation and restoration of the tower and the SBAH is already reaching out internationally to experts on how to rebuild the tower.
Similar programs, according to Hussein, have been successful in the past. In the mid-1980s, a minaret in Anbar province that was threatened by modernity was meticulously disassembled and relocated by a team of professionals.
“SBAH is on a mission to preserve our heritage,” Hussein told the Art Newspaper. But he admitted there are many challenges involved in the project, so much so that “it seems like Mission Impossible.”