Turkey Criticizes Saudi Arabia Over Ottoman Fortress Destruction; Work Carried Out By Bin Laden Construction Group

Published January 9th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

Turkish ancient footprints apparently are being destroyed amongst the sands of Saudi Arabia.  


The destruction of an Ottoman castle in Saudi Arabia to enable the construction of a hotel complex was described as a "cultural massacre" this week throughout media reports worldwide. 


According to the British Independent, Saudi authorities allegedly demolished the al-Ajyad fortress to build accommodation and shops for pilgrims visiting the holy city of Mecca, an action Turkey has compared to the vandalism of Afghanistan's Taliban militia. 


"The destruction of the al-Ajyad fort, part of the common cultural heritage of humanity, is an act equivalent to the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan," the Turkish Culture Ministry said Tuesday. It should be noted that the demolition was carried out by Saudi Arabia's Bin Laden construction group. 


Turkey says it was reassured just last year from Saudi authorities that the castle would be preserved. However, now it has learnt that the fortress, built long ago, in 1780 on Bulbul mountain to protect the city and its Muslim shrines from invaders, has been destroyed. No official confirmation from Saudi authorities regarding the destruction has yet been reported.  


Turkey’s Culture Minister, Istemihan Talay, has asked UNESCO, the UN agency responsible for the preservation of cultural relics, to protest to Saudi Arabia. "This is a crime against humanity and UNESCO should expose this disgraceful and ugly destruction and cultural massacre," the Minister claimed. 


Ottoman Turks once ruled an empire ranging from the Arabian peninsula to the Balkans and North Africa. The Empire disintegrated at the onset of the 20th century, upon Turkey becoming a secular state. The Turks suspect that the Saudis saw the fort as an unwelcome reminder of Turkish rule. The destruction of the fort has severely angered and offended many in Turkey. (Albawaba.com) 



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