Zarif denounces Trump’s threats against cultural sites as terrorism

January 27, 2020 - 20:3

TEHRAN – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to target cultural sites in Iran is “clear example of cultural terrorism”.

“The United States president’s threat to destroy Iran’s cultural and historical sites is a clear example of international cultural terrorism and is in continuation of the United States regime’s violation of law to break the Iranian people’s resistance,” he said during a speech at a cultural gathering at the National Library in Tehran.

In a tweet on January 4, Trump threatened to target 52 Iranian sites, including cultural and civilian ones.

Zarif said that respecting the cultural sites is respecting the “human dignity” and attacking historical and cultural sites is attacking humanity and history.

He noted that according to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, causing harm to a country’s cultural properties is like harming the whole humanity’s culture and is an unforgivable crime.

“This convention has banned targeting cultural sites and properties even in armed conflicts”, he added.

Elsewhere, Zarif said that Trump’s threat shows his hatred for not only the rich Iranian culture, but for “culture, civilization, and anything that expresses peace and stability”.

In a threat delivered over Twitter on Jan. 4, Trump said that he is prepared to “HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD” culturally important targets in Iran should the country retaliate for the American assassiantion of General Qassem Soleimani.

In a statement read by Iran’s envoy Majid Takhte-Ravanchi to the United Nations Security Council on January 9, Zarif said that the U.S. is seeking to emulate the war crimes of Daesh by threatening to destroy the cultural heritage of Iran.

“It now even seeks to emulate the war crimes of DAESH, menacing the cultural heritage of the millennia-old civilization of Iran,” he said.

A U.S. Senator, Chris Murphy, said in a tweet on January 4 that targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do.

“Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do. It’s a war crime,” he tweeted.

“As a historian who has written about the medieval Islamic roots of the Islamic State group (Daesh), I can tell you that by threatening Iran’s cultural heritage, Trump puts himself in the company of some repugnant characters,” David J. Wasserstein, a professor of history and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University, wrote on January 7.

According to, Wasserstein said, “Nazi leader Adolf Hitler wanted to demolish the landmarks of Paris as World War II neared an end – a fate that was only avoided because his soldiers refused to carry out the orders.” 

The professor also said, “More recently, the Taliban blew up Afghanistan’s famed Bamiyan Buddhas and the Islamic State group destroyed the ancient cities of Hatra and Palmyra, along with much of Mosul, including the 900-year-old Nuri mosque.”

‘Passive unilateralism encourages active unilateralism’

Zarif also said that “passive unilateralism encourages active unilateralism”, expressing regret over countries’ passive position on the U.S. unilateralism.

“The countries which have submitted to Trump’s unilateralism and violation of law in order to be safe from his aggression have provided the grounds for aggression against themselves,” he said.


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