Authoritarian regimes have always sought to reshape history to their own advantageby Ian Irvine / December 29, 2015 / Leave a comment
Reports in December suggested that Islamic State (IS) forces have taken control of the town of Sabratha in Libya. It lies on the Mediterranean coast, 50 miles west of Tripoli and was one of the three ancient cities which give the area its historic name, Tripolitania. Its extensive archaeological remains are a Unesco world heritage site and the incursion of IS has raised fears that they may be under threat of destruction. The news reports have all run photographs of its impressive theatre, one of the largest in the Roman empire, a three-storey structure from the third century AD, capable of seating 5,000.
IS has already demolished temples in Palmyra in Syria, and Nimrud in Iraq, as well as many churches and Shia mosques and shrines. This iconcoclasm is done in accordance with its Salafist ideology—which requires the removal of evidence of what they see as polytheism. But IS’s sophisticated propagandists are well aware that these acts of cultural cleansing generate considerable media coverage.