Louvre Abu Dhabi Displaying Stolen Artifacts, Iraqis Claim

Published November 18th, 2017 - 10:55 GMT
The newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi has been accused of displaying looted antiquities (Iraq Museum/Facebook)
The newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi has been accused of displaying looted antiquities (Iraq Museum/Facebook)
  • An Iraqi social media campaign has alleged that Louvre Abu Dhabi is exhibiting looted antiquities
  • Iraq's government has launched an investigtion after the launch of the hashtag "return our stolen artifacts"
  • If the claims are true, they could be among the 15,000 historical items looted from Iraq since 2003
  • Many remains of Iraq's ancient civilizations have been destroyed by ISIS in recent times


by Rosie Alfatlawi

The newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi has been accused of displaying looted antiquities.

An online campaign is calling on the UAE to “return our stolen artifacts,” which it claims were plundered from Iraq.

“The Iraqi antiquities are the property of humanity, and every human being has the right to be proud of them but after taking permission,” tweeted one Iraqi. “Not by stealing them and boasting about them.”

Iraqis claim that the museum, which opened last week, is displaying objects that were taken during the chaos following the 2003 invasion.

Unfortunately my country Iraq was robbed of its security, had its riches stolen from it and its history plundered by the West, the Arabs and the Iraqi traitors. During just a page and a half of its history, Iraq, which has been around for 7000 years, was stolen.

Images have circulated online of artifacts from the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations on show in Abu Dhabi.

Many have called on the Iraqi authorities to act to return the antiquities that they allege were taken illegally.

“We hope that the Iraqi government will take interest in this issue,” tweeted @Eizidi74.

“Our artifacts are our beautiful, honorable Iraqi history, they are what remains of the civilizations of Sumeria, Akkadia, Babylonia and Assyria.”



As a result of the campaign, Iraq has launched an investigation into the claims, The New Arab reported.

"Parliament will file a motion with the government to form a committee to investigate how they reached the UAE and take legal action to repatriate them to Iraq," MP Sadeq Rassoul said.

However, a representative of the office of Iraq’s prime minister shed doubt on suggestions the museum was showing stolen artifacts.

"A committee has been formed to follow up on the subject, and verify the reports claiming Babylonian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Ottoman-era artefacts are being shown at the museum," he told The New Arab.

Others online have also expressed their distrust of the claims, with one person on Twitter saying “[the artifacts] have been in Paris for years and no-one said they were stolen.”

The Abu Dhabi Louvre is a ten-year project in collaboration with the French government, and was unveiled by French President Emmanuel Macron. It will exhibit items from multiple French museums, including the Paris Louvre.

Meanwhile, some Iraqis have gone so far as to suggest that even if the artifacts were stolen, it might be for the best.

“These countries have been a blessing for the history of Iraq,” wrote Aqeel Alnaqash on Facebook. “If not for them, the history of Iraq would have been erased.”

“The evidence is in Mosul, the winged bull and many, many others.”

In July, as Iraqi troops closed in on ISIS in the northern city of Mosul, the Islamists blew up the 900-year-old al-Nuri mosque.

A winged bull statue that had stood in the Nineveh province of Iraq since 700 BC was also destroyed by the militants in 2015. Videos of ISIS fighters attacking the Mosul museum with sledgehammers were shared worldwide.

Last year, Iraq announced that 15,000 artifacts had been stolen from Iraq since the US-led invasion 14 years ago.

At that point, Iraq indicated that it was making “ongoing efforts to retrieve some of those artifacts from Italy, including 88 Akkadian tablets which have been in the University of Rome's possession since 2006.”

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