ISIS, the extremist Islamic group with a strong presence in the Middle East, has damaged a Roman monument in Palmyra, Syria.
The monument, a theater, was confirmed partly destroyed last Thursday when satellite pictures were analyzed. Syria’s government, headed by Bashar Al-Assad, lacks the capacity to retake the monument. The government was focused on the battle with Syrian rebels in the city of Aleppo, which they frequently bomb. The Syrian government lacks the necessary resources needed to combat the monopoly of violence held by ISIS and to carry out their own monopoly of violence as well.
ISIS has conducted multiple executions at the site, including beheadings and shootings. It is believed that the site was destroyed by explosives, leaving two pillars standing. The site was held by ISIS before and the group had destroyed parts of the site previously. The reasoning behind the destruction is that ISIS considers “shrines and statues to be idolatrous,” according to BBC.
ISIS’ sense of religious identity has resulted in an almost ethnocentric view of themselves. They hold their values above those of others and act accordingly, imposing their ideas upon the world around them. This level of extremism, coupled with the desire to establish a physical state, result in the group’s monopoly of violence. The Roman monument was destroyed not simply because of ISIS’ taboo against statues, but due to the political climate of Syria and ISIS’ monopoly of violence in the country.