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Monday, January 6, 2020

Trump Threatens To Target Iranian Cultural Sites


On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would order attacks on Iranian cultural sites if Iran followed through with its promises of vengeance following the assassination of top military commander Qassem Soleimani.

In a tweet, Trump said 52 Iranian sites — “some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture” — have been marked as targets to strike, should any retaliation occur.


Destroying cultural monuments is a war crime, and after his tweet, many compared Trump’s would-be actions to those of the Islamic State and the Taliban — terror groups that erased centuries of cultural heritage in lands they overran, by destroying ancient monuments with bulldozers and explosives.

On Monday, UNESCO reminded the world that the U.S. has signed treaties that commit it to not harming cultural heritage sites in the event of armed conflict.

The UN cultural body said that under the provisions of the 1954 and 1972 conventions — which have been ratified by both the U.S. and Iran — signatory states undertake not to take any deliberate measures which might damage cultural and natural heritage on the territory of other states party to those conventions.

The hashtag #IranianCulturalSites was trending on Twitter by Sunday, and people flooded social media with photos of their favourite historic Iranian landmarks and monuments. Here are five sites that could, in theory, be targeted by Trump.

Persepolis

Persepolis

The ancient city was built around 500 BC and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. It served as the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, hosting official festivals and receptions for neighbouring leaders. The site itself features several massive structures, columns, and stone-carved designs.

“The royal city of Persepolis ranks among the archaeological sites which have no equivalent and which bear unique witness to a most ancient civilization,” UNESCO says on their website.

 Golestan Palace

Golestan Palace

Located in the heart of Tehran, the Golestan Palace is a massive walled complex featuring 18th century architecture and art. The palace became the seat for the Qajari government in the 18th century, as well as a recreational and artistic centre in the region. Open to tourists, its many halls boast intricate colourful patterns and unique ornaments.

“It reflects artistic inspirations of European origin as the earliest representations of synthesized European and Persian style, which became so characteristic of Iranian art and architecture in the late 19th and 20th centuries,” UNESCO says in its online literature. “As such, parts of the palace complex can be seen as the origins of the modern Iranian artistic movement.”

Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan

Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan:

The site, whose name translates to the “Friday Mosque,” is considered to be the oldest congregational mosque in Iran, dating back about twelve centuries. Over time it has been renovated and rebuilt countless times, and now serves as a study of the development of Iranian architecture.

Bazaar of Tabriz

Bazaar of Tabriz:

The bazaar has been one of the most significant sites for merchants since the silk road — even Marco Polo reportedly said he stopped by the market on his travels in the 13th century. It consists of a series of connected open brick buildings, with many still-functioning markets located inside. According to UNESCO, it is one of the most complete examples of the traditional commercial and cultural system of Iran.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Naqsh-e Jahan Square:

This World Heritage site is one of the largest public squares in the world, and one of Iran’s most notable tourist attractions. Built in the 17th century, the square is surrounded by ancient mosques, a palace, and a bazaar.

“The Meidan Emam was at the heart of the Safavid capital’s culture, economy, religion, social power, government, and politics. Its vast sandy esplanade was used for celebrations, promenades, and public executions, for playing polo and for assembling troops,” UNESCO says.

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