there is no evidence that the Tomb of Prophet Jonah has been destroyed [accurate but out-of-date]

[Update (25th July 2014): on the 24th of July, the Islamic State destroyed the Tomb of the Prophet Jonah – indeed, the entire Mosque of the Prophet Yunus. This blog post accurately debunks a piece of propaganda that claimed its destruction before.]

There are spreading reports that the Islamic State (1) has destroyed Prophet Jonah’s tomb in Nineveh (Mosul, Iraq). But the site in the video is not Prophet Jonah’s tomb, and may not even be in Iraq.

The spread of the story

Though it has been claimed since the 18th of June, perhaps the first detailed claim was on the 4th of July, when Iraqi News reported that IS had ‘dug up [the] grave of Prophet Younis (biblical Jonah) in Mosul’ (which it updated with Sadrist Iraqi Haider’s version of the video from the 7th of July); on the 5th of July, Panorama Middle East (بانوراما الشرق الاوسط) shared the earliest (2) Arabic-language-titled video that claimed that the Islamic State had exhumed Prophet Younis’s tomb in Nineveh (3). [Update (19th July 2014): On the 8th of July, the Shoebat family embedded the Arabic-language-titled video in an English-language post; then, apocalyptic Christian Pastor Paul Begley incited a clash of civilisations as he displayed the Shia Post image.] On the 9th of July, YouTube NewsHD and Joni Masni shared the first English-language-titled video that claimed that IS had smashed Prophet Jonah’s tombstone (4). The story spread far more widely when the Daily Mail reported it.

Obviously, other media churned out virtual copies of these reports.

Christopher Jones (@cwjones89), Chuck Jones (@AWOL_tweets) and I (@conflictantiq) have had the misfortune of checking this.

Expert media managers in a social media fail?

Ninawa police spokesman Major Ahmed al-Obaidi had told Mawtani that the tomb had been destroyed on the 15th of June. But why would the Islamic State wait three weeks to provide evidence of its destruction, when it released brochures to advertise its demolition of other shrines and mosques? Moreover, the place in the video does not resemble the tomb in pilgrims’ [soldiers’] photographs in any way whatsoever.

'Armed: The rebels, who are members of the Islamic State terror group, were filmed attacking centuries-old graves in the north-west city of Mosul in Ninevah province. Above, an ISIS militant vandalises a tombstone' (Sophie Jane Evans and Associated Press, the Daily Mail, 9th July 2014).

‘Armed: The rebels, who are members of the Islamic State terror group, were filmed attacking centuries-old graves in the north-west city of Mosul in Ninevah province. Above, an ISIS militant vandalises a tombstone’ (Sophie Jane Evans and Associated Press, the Daily Mail, 9th July 2014).

'Revered tomb: One of the devastated tombstones belonged to the Prophet Jonah (Younis in Arabic) and was revered by Muslims and Christians alike, authorities said. Another belonged to the Prophet Seth (Shayth)' (Sophie Jane Evans and Associated Press, the Daily Mail, 9th July 2014).

‘Revered tomb: One of the devastated tombstones belonged to the Prophet Jonah (Younis in Arabic) and was revered by Muslims and Christians alike, authorities said. Another belonged to the Prophet Seth (Shayth)’ (Sophie Jane Evans and Associated Press, the Daily Mail, 9th July 2014).

Unverified photo of ISIL element destroying grave of Prophet Younus at Younus Mosque in Mosul, Iraq (c) Abdelhak Mamoun, Iraqi News, 4th July 2014

Unverified photo of ISIL element destroying grave of Prophet Younus at Younus Mosque in Mosul, Iraq
(c) Abdelhak Mamoun, Iraqi News, 4th July 2014

Grave of Prophet Yunus (A.S.). (c) Prophets (A.S.) of Allah, 20th September 2011

Grave of Prophet Yunus (A.S.).
(c) Prophets (A.S.) of Allah, 20th September 2011

[Update (11th July 2014): The original source of the above photo is the Blackfive military blog: soldiers from the 2nd Military Transition Team of the U.S. Army and the 2nd Division of the Iraqi Army visited the Tomb of Jonah in Mosul, Iraq, ‘to replace the long lost whale tooth [replica]’ on the 30th of November 2008. This conclusively proves that the video does not show Islamic State destruction of the Tomb of Prophet Jonah.]

Gave of Prophet Yunus (A.S.) (c) Prophets (A.S.) of Allah, 20th September 2011

Gave of Prophet Yunus (A.S.)
(c) Prophets (A.S.) of Allah, 20th September 2011

Iraq? Syria? Iraq?

Christopher Jones checked this video tour, which it also did not resemble, and confirmed that it is not Prophet Seth’s tomb either. It does look a little like the place in this photograph, though…

ZS16:AK17 Nabi Yunus a.s. (c) OneMile Grads, 17th April 2010

ZS16:AK17 Nabi Yunus a.s.
(c) OneMile Grads, 17th April 2010

And that photograph is at a site fifteen minutes away (by road) from Apamea in Syria, where there has been heavy looting.

But even then (and even if we assume that the room was first stripped of all of its furnishings), the room in the video is the wrong length and width to be the room in the photo; there are fewer, more widely-spaced tombs in the room in the photo; the room in the video does not have arches, and it has a stream of light where there should be an arch; even the paint is different. If nothing else, as Chuck Jones noted, the tombs broke ‘like they [were] made of cement‘.

While this appears to confirm Nineveh mayor Bashar al-Kiki’s denials (of this violence at that time), the video still demonstrates that the fighters have destroyed some tombs. It is difficult to take comfort in the fact that they destroyed tombs other than those first feared.

As Chuck Jones (and Christopher Jones), ‘I’d wager third party disinformation‘. Can people at least publish poorly-researched articles in the morning, so I can get some sleep sometime?

Notes

1: the Islamic State is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Da’ish, Da’esh or Da’ash.

2: an even earlier video may have been shared under a different name (excluding the Arabic for “Prophet Jonah”) or on a different service.

3: Daash exhumed the tomb of Younis, the Prophet of Allah peace be upon him, in Mosul [داعش تنبش قبر نبي الله يونس عليه السلام في الموصل] (Panorama Middle East, YouTube, 5th July 2014).

4: Daash exhumed the tomb of the Prophet of Allah peace be upon him Younis in Mosul (Joni Masni, YouTube, 9th July 2014).

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13 Responses to “there is no evidence that the Tomb of Prophet Jonah has been destroyed [accurate but out-of-date]”

  1. I bet you feel like an idiot now

  2. I bet you feel like an idiot now
    Eh? When is it ever “idiotic” to try and determine the truth behind claims?

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