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Assyrian Christian teen counters ISIS by recreating destroyed artifacts

"They waged a war on art and culture, so I decided to fight them with art."

Assyrian Christian teen counters ISIS by recreating destroyed artifacts

Nenous Thabit/Fair Use via AINA/CNN

After ISIS captured the city of Mosul two years ago, they recorded a video of themselves destroying ancient artifacts. These historical pieces were on display at the museum in Mosul, but the militants saw them as “idols” that needed to be destroyed.

In the video they describe the reasoning behind their actions. “These antiquities and idols behind me were from people in past centuries and were worshiped instead of God. When God Almighty orders us to destroy these statues, idols and antiquities, we must do it, even if they’re worth billions of dollars.”

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Besides destroying pagan artifacts and statues, ISIS has also annihilated Christian monasteries, churches and other places at odds with their ideology.

Many saw the incident in Mosul as a cultural tragedy, especially since the museum was in possession of original artifacts that were thousands of years old.

When the video was released to the public, one Assyrian Christian teenager was shocked by what he saw and knew he had to do something. Seventeen-year-old Nenous Thabit was personally offended by the actions of ISIS and saw what they did as an attack on the culture of his ancestors. However, instead of picking up a rock to throw at the militants, Thabit picked up a rock and started to sculpt.

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He told CNN, “They waged a war on art and culture, so I decided to fight them with art.”

Since last year, “Thabit has sculpted 18 Assyrian statues and one mural. He was trained by his father, Thabit Michael, a sculptor himself, who took Thabit with him to his workshop and allowed him to play with clay from the age of seven… Thabit recreated the pillars on which the Code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest surviving codes of law in recorded history, was written.”
Thabit hopes to continue an ancient tradition of sculpting that is in danger of being lost. He explained to CNN, “In Iraq, there are people who are killed because they are sculptors; because they are artists. ISIS view them as apostate… So continuing to sculpt is a message that we will not be intimidated by those devils.”

Read more: 12 Treasures of Antiquity Destroyed in the Middle East since 2001

Mysteries Surround the Opening of the Tomb of Christ

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Philip Kosloski

Philip Kosloski is a husband and father of five, and staff writer at Aleteia. He also writes for The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer), and blogs at the National Catholic Register.