Dear Iraqi Architects, Archaeologists and Friends of Iraq World-Wide


Ihsan Fethi is an Iraqi architect and expert in heritage conservation.

Greetings. I have earlier (last year) raised my strongest objections against the roofing of the historic open courtyard (Sahn) of the Imam al-Hussain Shrine in Karbala, Iraq. This ill-advised "solution" was done with the pretext to shade worshipers from the harsh sun and dust etc. The Shrine, which goes back to the 7th.century, has of course undergone numerous changes and additions over time but there has always been a large open courtyard that surrounded the Shrine from 3 sides, always until the authorities in charge of the decided to cover it with a steel-structure finished by mirror-mosaics all carried out by an Iranian contractor.  They did not stop at this but also decided to roof the open courtyard of the other historic Shrine of Abbas nearby.

This roofing of the courtyard resulted, obviously, in the total disappearance of the beautiful historic golden dome which had dominated the enclosed space and the city skyline for centuries. In order to 'solve' their terrible and foolish mistake they decided recently to do the unthinkable!  To build a new larger golden dome which would enclose the original historic dome inside it (very much like the Russian Matryoshka dolls)!  Also, to add to their unimaginable foolishness and destructiveness they decided to remove the 4 original huge brick piers that supported the original dome and replace them by thin steel columns " in order to provide better human movement around the Shrine".  The work has already begun also by an Iranian company.

I call upon UNESCO-Iraq and all relevant authorities to intervene to the Iraqi Government and demand the immediate stoppage of this project.   Silence would mean acquiescence in this case.

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