Is old Najaf being destroyed?

Kamil Mahdi reports that construction projects around Najaf are destroying the core of the old city:

The destruction of Najaf which is now under way is drastic and irreversible. A statement by the head of the Shia Waqf Diwan dated on 8 September shows clearly that the whole matter was only an idea a month ago, yet a decision was quickly taken and demolition has begun. People should at least be allowed to discuss the rights and wrongs of such decisions.


No such discussion is taking place, not even in the sham, pliant and self-selected National Council. Is this the so-called democracy all these people have died and are dying for? If the destruction continues without open and meaningful public consultation that takes place in a rational atmosphere and in total transparency, it will be nothing short of a criminal assault on Iraq's heritage and on its history. All over the civilised world, historic cities are protected, preserved and developed in ways that retain the character and identity of the city and the integrity of its physical and social fabric.


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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.