The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, deplores the destruction of the Al Nuree Mosque and Al Hadba Minaret in Mosul.
“The Al Hadba Minaret and Al Nuree Mosque in Mosul were among the most iconic sites in the city, and stood as a symbol of identity, resilience and belonging. When Daesh targeted the mosque and minaret a few month ago, the people of Mosul formed a human chain to protect the site, proving once again that the protection of heritage cannot be delinked from the protection of human lives,” said the Director General.
“This new destruction deepens the wounds of a society already affected by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy, with 3 million internally displaced persons and 6,2 million in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. This calls for immediate and strengthened international mobilization,” added the Director-General.
Since the launch of the offensive in Mosul in October 2016, around 750,000 to 800,000 people have been displaced from the city; many are trapped or being used as human shields.
“On this day, I wish to express to the people of Iraq UNESCO’s renewed solidarity and readiness to support, restore and rehabilitate cultural heritage whenever possible. Despite all odds, the spirit of resilience embodied by al-Hadba must prevail and UNESCO will continue to stand by the people of Iraq to regain their heritage and fight back against all forms of extremism and violence through culture, education and human rights.”
Located in West Mosul, in the old city, the Great Mosque of al-Nuree was considered one of the main historical mosques in Iraq. It was originally built by Nureddine Zangi in 1172 AD, during the Abbasid Caliphate. It underwent several renovations and restorations throughout the years. Its outstanding iconic feature was the leaning minaret known as al-Hadba (the hunchback), which had retained its authentic architectural and structural features for hundreds of years.
As early as 2012, UNESCO worked for the safeguarding of al-Hadba. A few days prior to the occupation of Mosul by Daesh in June 2014, UNESCO had taken an important step towards safeguarding and consolidation of the al Hadba Minaret. Works had to be interrupted due to the conflict, although a comprehensive study for the conservation of the minaret has been completed and could be useful in the future. In February 2017, UNESCO convened an International Coordination Conference on the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq and adopted an Action Plan for the future safeguarding of this outstanding cultural heritage.