Mosul – The al-Hadba minaret that had towered over Mosul for over 800 years was destroyed by the ISIS terrorist group as it made its retreat from the Iraqi city.
The historic monument of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque was a source of pride for the locals, who saw in the minaret, affectionately known as “the hunchback” (hadba), their own leaning tower of Pisa or Eiffel Tower.
The mosque is named after Nuruddin al-Zanki, a noble who fought the early crusades from a fiefdom that covered territory in modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The mosque was built in 1172-73, shortly before his death, and housed an Islamic school.
Salaheddine’s predecessor was a symbol of resistance against the crusader wars.
The minaret had seven bands of decorative brickwork in a type of complex geometric pattern also found in Persia and Central Asia and was capped with a white dome
At a height of 45 meters, the leaning minaret was a hallmark of the Mosul skyline before being bombed at 9:30 pm on Wednesday.
A symbol of the city, the minaret appeared on the Iraqi currency and it was described as the Iraqi leaning tower of Pisa. The al-Hadba minaret lent its name to countless restaurants and companies.
Local folklore is also rife with tales on how it came to lean, some attributing it to religion reasons.
It was this reverence to the minaret that prompted ISIS to threaten to destroy after it seized control of Mosul in 2014.
The locals, however, stood against the terrorists and formed a human shield around the minaret in order to prevent its destruction.
On Thursday, however, Iraqis woke up to the shocking news of the destruction of the Mosul monument.
“In the early morning, I climbed up to the roof of my house and was stunned to see the al-Hadba minaret had gone,” Nashwan, a day-laborer who lives near the mosque, said by phone. “I felt I had lost a son of mine.”
The demolition came on Wednesday night as Iraqi forces closed in on the mosque, which carried enormous symbolic importance for ISIS.
It was there that its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a so-called “caliphate” as militants seized swathes of Syria and Iraq.
In the dawn light, all that remained was the base projecting from shattered masonry. A video on social media showed the minaret collapsing vertically, throwing up a pall of sand and dust.
The United Nations’ education organization UNESCO said the Mosul minaret and mosque “stood as a symbol of identity, resilience and belonging” and it deplored their destruction.