Most conflicts are in effect about the greed of the wealthy and the amplified suffering of the less fortunate. War reduces rational men into savages who, in the name of bigotry and creed commit wicked crimes. Cyclic episodes of mass murder by malevolent men for mythical reasons have been tolerated for millenniums. Ironically in war, the ungodly act of murdering children and raping women is considered collateral damage.

Another repulsive result of conflict is the ruin of natural heritage and historic cultural infrastructure that should have rightfully conserved for future generations.

In Syria the Great Mosque of Aleppo, a World Heritage Site is home to the remains of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist who is the cousin of Jesus of Nazareth. This building which was built early in the 8th century had its minaret destroyed in a recent bombing. Another example of wanton ruin is the bombing of Krak des Chevaliers an important centuries old medieval castle. Many museums in Syria have been looted of valuable artefacts and others have been damaged. Looters recently attacked the Khalid Ibn al-Walied Mosque, located in the city of Homs. Khalid Ibn al-Walied was a contemporary of Muhammed the emissary of Islam. The fighting in the Ancient City of Aleppo, has also reached the monumental Citadel of Aleppo which is located on the hilltop, rising above the souks, mosques and madrasas of the old walled city. UNESCO the United Nations cultural organization has reported that armed groups are located within the fortress and shells are falling nearby. The Citadel’s outer walls, main gate and iron doors have been damaged.

UNESCO also outlined the extensive damage caused by US occupation in Iraq to the archaeological site of ancient Babylon, about 100 km south of Baghdad. The report charges American and Polish forces with carrying out a serious encroachment on this internationally known archaeological site. The report suggests that “During their presence in Babylon, the Multi-National Forces and contractors employed by them directly caused major damage by digging, cutting, scraping, and levelling”. Key structures that were damaged include the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way. Babylon was a leading city of ancient Mesopotamia in what is now Iraq. It is one of the oldest centres of civilization and the origin of many encounters that form the basis of modern culture.

Historic sites where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam once wandered have been reduced to rubble. Babylon is the city of Nebuchadnezzar and the site where Abraham began his journey against idolatry and re-established the concept of monotheism. In Babylon, Abraham was flung into a fire and God intervened. It is a terrain of great miracles where divine light conquered hedonistic darkness. It is a location that belongs to all of human history.

Although most of us are struggling financially, we all dream of travelling and sharing the ancient beauty and wonder of the world with our children. Ironically that primordial history that survived for millenniums is being destroyed by our generation.

In the words of the wise, when the elite and greedy wage war it is the rest of us that pay the price in more ways than we can imagine.

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress