Cultural Postcards + [Middle East]

Iraq: Isis militants blow up Jonah's tomb
Islamic State (Isis) militants have blown up a reveredMuslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the prophet Jonah in Mosul, residents of the city said.

Isis militants blow up Jonah's tomb
People walk through the rubble of the Prophet Younis Mosque after it was destroyed in 
a bomb attack by militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in
 Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the city of Mosul, July 24, 2014
 [Credit: Reuters]

Residents said on Thursday that the militants first ordered everyone out of the Mosque of the Prophet Younis, or Jonah, then blew it up.

The mosque was built on an archaeological site dating back to the eighth century BC and is said to be the burial place of the prophet, who in stories from both the Bible and Qur'an is swallowed by a whale.

Isis militants blow up Jonah's tomb
The blown-up Mosque of the Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul. The mosque was built 
on an archaeological site dating back to the eighth century BC 
[Credit: AP]

It was renovated in the 1990s under Iraq's late dictator Saddam Hussein and until the recent blitz by Isis that engulfed Mosul, remained a popular destination for religious pilgrims from around the world.

Several nearby houses were also damaged by the blast, said the residents, speaking on condition of anonymity because they feared for their own safety.



The residents told AP that the militants claimed the mosque had become a place for apostasy, not prayer. The extremists also blew up another place of worship nearby on Thursday, the Imam Aoun Bin al-Hassan mosque, they said.
The attack came hours after Iraqi lawmakers elected veteran Kurdish politician Fouad Massoum as the nation's new president, as they struggle to form a new government amid the Isis blitz that has engulfed much of northern and western Iraq.
Iraq is facing its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of US troops amid the offensive by the al-Qaida breakaway group that captured large swaths of land in the country's west and north, including Iraq's second largest city of Mosul. The militants have also seized a huge chunk of territory straddling the Iraq-Syria border, and have declared a self-styled caliphate in the territory they control.
Source: The Associated Press [July 24, 2014]