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March 23, 2015



"Syrian political analyst"

Mick H

Well, that's what they say. According to MEMRI he was introduced on the show as "owning the patent to mummy technology". Make of that what you will.


The comical silliness hardly needs mentioning, but the view that the value of antiquities is that they 'constitute documentation, which preserves the [legal] rights of nations' is pathetically impoverished. The idea that the only value ancient artefacts have is to validate claims of ownership degrades human artistic work to the level of toddlers shouting 'Mine!'


I'm prepared to be more forgiving than Graham.

Badr isn't specifically excluding any other way of valuing antiquities. That may be because to value artefacts on, say, aesthetic grounds might be considered haram but if so he doesn't articulate that thought. Muslims ban representational art so the destruction of statues isn't unprecedented.

Nonetheless, a significant reason for valuing antiquities is because they tell us about ancient cultures. If Badr needs to call that "documentation" to articulate a reason for not destroying it, I'll give him a pass on that score.


Badr’s reason for condemning the destruction of ancient Mesopotamian sites and artefacts is wrong and I wouldn’t give him a ‘pass’ for such a minimal level of ethical awareness.

Perhaps he elaborates in the video, which I haven’t watched, but his focus in the transcript above is clearly that the reason destroying antiquities ‘is a crime, [is] because antiquities constitute documentation, which preserves the [legal] rights of nations’, and reiterates: ‘This is why history is so important. He who destroys history destroys the rights of nations.’ He uses this objection to ISIS’s destruction as the justification for a modern Egyptian claim to America and Australia, similar to Erdogan’s recently.

‘Telling us about ancient cultures’ is absolutely not the same as documenting historical legal claims and it is clear his focus is entirely on ownership rights. To see the antiquities’ value as being only to do with ‘the rights of nations’, and not historical, anthropological, cultural, aesthetic, or that their destruction destroys information about ourselves is exactly what is so impoverished.

Saying that to acknowledge aesthetic value would be haram is simply restating my point. It's an impoverished way of seeing the world.


Also, ISIS's destruction of Mesopotamian sites is not because the artefacts are representational: it's because they are evidence of pre-existing, non-islamic civilisations.

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