The shrine of Jonas – revered by Christians and Muslims alike – has been turned “to dust” near Iraq’s Mosul. Footage of the event was posted online, and witnesses said it took ISIS militants just an hour to stuff the mosque with explosives.
“ISIS militants have destroyed the Prophet Younis (Jonah)
shrine east of Mosul city after they seized control of the mosque
completely,” an anonymous security source told the
Iraq-based al-Sumaria News.
The extremist group ISIS changed its name from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) to just the Islamic State (IS), after formally declaring a new caliphate in Syria and Iraq at the end of June.
Muslims know the tomb as the shrine of Younis, whereas Christians refer to it as the tomb of Jonas.
Jonas is renowned for having been swallowed by a fish or a whale in the Bible’s Old Testament, with a similar story being present in the Koran. The site upon which the mosque had been built dated back to the eighth century BC.
“[The] Islamic State completely destroyed the shrine of Nabi Yunus after telling local families to stay away and closing the roads to a distance of 500 meters from the shrine,” an anonymous official from the Sunni Endowment, which manages Sunni religious affairs in Iraq, told AFP.
The official said it took the Sunni extremists an hour to rig the
shrine with explosives. After evacuating people from the area,
they blew it up in front of a large crowd.
Though several religious sites have been destroyed in recent days – with the official citing the Yahya Ibn al-Qassem, Aoun al-Din, and Prophet Daniel shrines as most important – “the worst destruction was of Nabi Yunus, which has been turned to dust.”
Thirty shrines and 15 hussainias and mosques in the Mosul area have been destroyed by IS in recent months.
Other sources shared photographs of the site of the destruction on Twitter. Arab Leaks – the Middle Eastern Wikileaks – retweeted a separate Arabic leaks site that stated: “This is all that remains of a mosque prophet Jonah in Mosul.”
هذا كل ما تبقى من جامع النبي يونس في الموصل ... 1 . pic.twitter.com/zNfBxLliu7
— شبكة ليكس الإعلامية (@Leaks_LMN) July 24, 2014
Videos and pictures were also shared by Iraqi biologist and photographer Asmaa A. Akif.
— Asmaa A. Akif (@Asmaa1089) July 24, 2014
The tombstone itself was smashed at the beginning of July.
"Elements of ISIS [have] controlled the mosque of the Prophet Younis in Mosul since they invaded the city,” Ninevah official Zuhair Al-Chalabi was quoted as saying by IraqiNews.com.
Last month, Sunni militants from IS swept through northern and western Iraq, destroying mosques and shrines and aiming for the eventual creation of society to the one which existed in the early days of Islam.
On Friday, the group demanded that all women in Mosul are to wear full face veils or risk severe punishment.
“The conditions imposed on her clothes and grooming was only to end the pretext of debauchery resulting from grooming and overdressing...this is not a restriction on her freedom but to prevent her from falling into humiliation and vulgarity,” IS said in a statement.
A Mosul-based cleric told Reuters that armed men had appeared at his mosque and demanded he read the warning over loudspeakers to the crowds gathering for worship.