Text by – VIRGINIA STAGNI

Translation by – JULIA PERRY

Italian versione –> click here

Only a few days ago we saw terrible images, symbols of foul barbarism, of men who destroyed centuries of culture and objects of inestimable historical value in the museum in Mosul, yet today we see a small light at the end of this tunnel in which the Middle East is besieged.

 

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It is the light of the culture that shines over the skies of Iraq, in Baghdad, where the national museum of the city reopened as a response to Isis’ inhuman attacks. Raped and pillaged in 2003, today this Iraqi institution becomes the symbol of the cultural struggle of the Caliphate. A fight that presents itself as peaceful yet loud, tiptoeing yet elegant, veiled but of impact: the true definition of what can be defined as a non-violent struggle worthy of great leaders and great peoples. And today, the Iraqi one, proved itself in this manner.

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The Hollywood video that moved art lovers as well as non, almost stimulated, I dare say, more repulsion in public opinion than that caused by the killing of prisoner-beasts: this was, in fact, the symbol of a horrific desire to violently erase one’s own past and, especially, that of humanity’s valley and cradle that gave birth to the entire West: Mesopotamia.

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During the war in Iraq fifteen thousand artifacts were damaged or looted and today experts were able to find at least 4300, bringing them inside the museum itself. Although the reopening was expected in a few months, the Iraqi premier decided to speed up the process “as a response to ISIS“. At the cutting of the red ribbon, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated that “we will protect civilization and identify those who want to destroy it” and Qais Hussein Rashid, Deputy Minister for Tourism and Antiquities, added that “what happened has led us to accelerate our work, we wanted to open as a reaction to what the bands of Daesh have done”.

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Perhaps the devastation of the museum in Mosu was nothing new to those who still had the tragic images of 2003 etched in memory. Among the damage reported in tears by Deputy Director of Baghdad’s museum, Nabhal Amin, who declared “they have stolen or damaged 170 thousand pieces dating back thousands of years ago” and the abominable destruction of the Afghan Buddhas of Bamiyan, the attack on the building in Mosul is yet another event to add to the Middle East’s infinite list of tragedies.

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This reopening is certainly for everyone a true signal, that counts, of valuable response to an act that is a reflection of human divergence toward its most bestial and primordial nature. A type of peaceful attack that culture must use against the violent barbarians that today beset the lands of the Middle East (and not only) and that see, in this first example, a precious symbol of a cry for freedom and hope. Baghdad, a glimmer of non-violent rebellion shines in the Iraqi desert, a movement to be supported alongside these people who, despite what they have experienced in recent decades, still fights against terrorism and obscurantism. It fights with the word “culture” and with the building of a critical discourse that begins from the reconstruction and protection of its historical past, witnessed by the preserved cultural heritage of its territory. Because culture and thought win, always, not so much revealing themselves with the breath of personal knowledge or of the “tribal clan”, but as a precise attitude that only those who care about culture can possess: to be able to discern good from evil, and beauty from ugliness.

I conclude by recalling the words of one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century, Hannah Arendt:

 “It is indeed my opinion now that evil is never ‘radical’, that it is only extreme, and that it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension. It can overgrow and lay waste the whole world precisely because it spreads like a fungus on the surface. It is ‘thought-defying’, as I said, because thought tries to reach some depth, to go to the roots, and the moment it concerns itself with evil, it is frustrated because there is nothing. That is its ‘banality.’ Only the good has depth and can be radical.”

Profound and radical like the history that is protected in a museum, in a library, in an archive: history that we must defend, with all our strength.

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