S.O.S. history, S.O.S. Palmyra

The destruction of history has become a fanatic obsession of the misnamed Islamic State (IS) and its crooked version of Islam, deliberately attacking the cultural heritage of humanity and its civilisations. It intends to erase the monuments of the Middle East, which means reducing to dust the cultures of the East and the West, of Persia and the Mediterranean. The destruction of historical remains is a frontal attack of fanaticism against civilisation and, therefore, the Unesco qualifies it as a crime of war and demands, with little success, the intervention of the international community. I therefore think these crimes should be judged by international courts as crimes against humanity, because history and culture are part of humanity. The international public opinion must quickly and unfalteringly mobilise to stop this spiral of hatred and destruction against civilisations, and demand the States and multilateral bodies to make a quick intervention in order to put a stop to the demolition of history and to preserve the heritage of all humanity.

After the serious damages in the Mosul Museum last February and the destruction of the Assyrian sites of the city of Nimrud (13th century BC), which the self-proclaimed jihadists demolished up to its foundations using heavy machinery, it is now time for the pearl of the desert: Palmyra. Concerns and calls raised by the Syrian head of archaeology, Abdel Karim, to preserve Palmyra should not be brushed away, since it would mean losing one of the most important cities of the Silk Road, where caravans have stopped since time immemorial. Inspiring Palmyra, circled by the arid Syrian desert, must remain unperturbed before history and the attacks of those promoting barbarianism through the destruction of culture. Palmyra must proudly show off its avenue of columns, its theatres, its baths and burial sites, and its slender and mysterious figure and its serene atmosphere must be preserved for the future generations.

The international community, and particularly Europe and the Arab world, should set up campaigns and mobilise society to preserve old Tadmor, and for this stratified site of history and legends to be studied and visited. Palmyra must become a symbol for the defence of civilisations and resistance before fanatics intending to demolish history in their fight to control oil and gas sites in the Shaer. They also want to take hold of the Sukhnah pumping stations, south of the strategic city opening the way towards the Euphrates valley. If Palmyra escapes the IS delirious pickaxe and becomes a symbol for the defence of civilisations and cultures, we will not have to hear history’s cries for help.