Culture minister responds to Trump’s threat to destroy Iran’s cultural sites

January 7, 2020 - 18:8

TEHRAN – Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Abbas Salehi has commented on President Donald Trump’s threat to target Iranian cultural sites in case Iran’s retaliation for the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

“Trump once again has threatened Iran’s cultural sites,” Salehi wrote on his Twitter on Monday.

“All of Iran is culture, the compass of the several-thousand-year-old history and multiregional geography of Iran. Which spot would he target? Iran is not America,” he added.

Trump’s threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites was officially censured in Iran and abroad.   

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that military attacks targeting cultural sites are considered war crimes under international law.

The Conversation, a network of not-for-profit media outlets, said that UNESCO also reminded the U.S. that it is bound by two conventions, one of which stipulates that signatories must not embark on “deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage” of another party.

According to BBC, U.S. Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Chris Murphy also made similar statements, and said Trump was “threatening to commit war crimes.”

In addition, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said cultural sites were protected by international law, and Britain expected that to be respected.

In a joint statement, Metropolitan Museum of Art director Max Hollein, and its CEO, Daniel H. Weiss, criticized Trump’s threat and wrote, “The targeting of sites of global cultural heritage is abhorrent to the collective values of our society. Our world knows precisely what is gained from protecting cultural sites, and, tragically, what is lost when destruction and chaos prevail. At this challenging time, we must remind ourselves of the global importance of protecting cultural sites—the objects and places by which individuals, communities, and nations connect to their history and heritage.”

The American Alliance of Museums, another leading museum trade organization, also joined the chorus of dissent by a statement condemning the targeting of cultural sites for destruction.

“We expect the United States government to comply with international law and urge the U.S. government to reaffirm its commitment to its longstanding practice of not targeting cultural sites during peace or wartime,” the group wrote.

Following the assassination of Quds Force chief Lieutenant General Soleimani, who was one of Iran’s most powerful figures, in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad on Friday, Iran threatened “severe revenge”.

Photo: Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Abbas Salehi.


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