Egyptian Islamic institute Al-Azhar has released a fatwa on Friday forbidding the destruction of ancient artefacts after Islamic State raids on a Mosul museum and the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.
Al-Azhar, which is considered the foremost authority on Sunni Islam, called the Islamic State’s actions a crime against humanity, given the global cultural value attached to these items. The institute dismissed Islamic State’s classification of the items as “idols”.
“These artefacts have important cultural and historical significance,” Al-Azhar said in an official statement. “They are an important part of our collective legacy that must not be harmed.”
Al-Azhar’s comments came shortly after Islamic State militants bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, destroying many of its artefacts.
The institute also condemned the Islamic State for its hypocrisy, given that the group refers to the artefacts as false idols while also profiting heavily from their sale on the black market.
Al-Azhar added that the violent and destructive actions perpetrated by this group do not represent Islam or any faith.
Al-Azhar also said that the destructive and aggressive nature of the group places an urgency on the Egyptian government and the international community to place a concise plan to end this threat.