The Christian Science Monitor website reports today (November 8, 2014) that the so-called Islamic State's "cultural cleansing" of minority groups uprooted from their northern Iraq homelands has led to fears that entire cultures from the cradle of civilization are under the biggest threat in recorded history, the United Nations' top cultural official warns.
"It can be compared to the Nazi methods, and here I think it goes all across the board," says Irina Bokova, director general of the UN Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). "Either they conform to their (Islamic radicals') views of religion or belief or they have to disappear. I don't remember anything like that in contemporary history."
She says Interpol (International Police) and antiquities authorities are taking steps to halt a lucrative trade in the smuggled artifacts of these ancient civilizations, which the Islamic State (IS) uses to help fund its operations.
As IS militants took over large parts of northern Iraq, more than one million Iraqis fled their towns and villages, many of them from religious minorities living in communities that date back to the earliest days of their faiths. The IS militants have also destroyed and damaged a plethora of churches and religious shrines, in an effort to "delete" Christian and other non-Islamic cultures.