Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. It is a frequent component of major political or religious changes. The term encompasses the more specific destruction of images of a ruler after his death or overthrow (damnatio memoriae), for example, following Akhenaten's death in Ancient Egypt.
People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called "iconoclasts", a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any person who challenges established dogma or conventions. Conversely, people who revere or venerate religious images are (by iconoclasts) called "iconolaters". In a Byzantine context, they are known as "iconodules", or "iconophiles".
Iconoclasm may be carried out by people of a different religion, but is often the result of sectarian disputes between factions of the same religion. The two Byzantine outbreaks during the 8th and 9th centuries were unusual in that the use of images was the main issue in the dispute, rather than a by-product of wider concerns. In Christianity, iconoclasm has generally been motivated by a literal interpretation of the Ten Commandments, which forbid the making and worshipping of "graven images", though the degree of aniconism in Christianity has varied greatly.
- In Judaism, King Hezekiah purged Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel of figures, including the Nehushtan, as recorded in the Second Book of Kings. His reforms were reversed in the reign of his son Manasseh.
- A Midrash included in Genesis Rabba attributes a major act of iconoclasm to Abraham. This is not attested in the Biblical account of the Partriarch's life, but is an important aspect of Abraham's character in later Jewish tradition.
- The Roman Empire's polytheist state religion's images were destroyed during the process of Christianisation.
- In the world of Islam, there have been various periods of iconoclasm against images of other religions (e.g., Christianity, Buddhism, etc.) and those produced within Islam.
- Byzantine iconoclasm in the Eastern Orthodox Church, of its own religious imagery.
- The Beeldenstorm in Europe during the Protestant Reformation and the religious conflicts following, with Protestants destroying traditional (by then considered Catholic imagery) or sometimes Protestant imagery.
- Most of the moai of Easter Island were toppled during the 18th century in the iconoclasm of civil wars.
- During the French Revolution, people widely destroyed religious and monarchical imagery.
- During and after the Russian Revolution, there was widespread destruction of religious and secular imagery as well as destruction of imagery pertaining to or resembling the Czar.
- During and after the Communist overthrow of the Chinese monarchy, as well as during the later Cultural Revolution, there was widespread destruction of religious and secular imagery in China, including in Tibet.
- In the Roman Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council, much of its traditional imagery, art, and architecture was discarded.
- Statues of Stalin, from as early as 1956 in Budapest, continuing sporadically through the fall of Communism and into the present day.
- Statues of Lenin and Felix Dzerzhinsky in formerly-communist Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
- The Taliban's destruction of two ancient statues of Buddha at Bamyan in Afghanistan.
In the Byzantine Empire, iconoclasm began with Emperor Leo III. Apart from the purely religious conflict, it created political and economic divisions in Byzantine society; it was generally supported by the Eastern, poorer, non-Greek peoples of the Empire who had to constantly deal with Arabic raids. On the other hand, the wealthier Greeks of Constantinople, and also the peoples of the Balkan and Italian provinces, strongly opposed iconoclasm.
The use of images had probably been increasing in the years leading up to the outbreak of iconoclasm. One notable change came in 695, when Justinian II put a full-face image of Christ on the obverse of his gold coins. The effect on iconoclast opinion is unknown, but the change caused Caliph Abd al-Malik to stop his earlier adoption of Byzantine coin types. He started a purely Islamic coinage with lettering only. A letter by the patriarch Germanus written before 726 to two Iconoclast bishops says that "now whole towns and multitudes of people are in considerable agitation over this matter" but there is little written evidence of the debate.
The first iconoclastic period: 730–787
Sometime between 726 and 730, the Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian began the iconoclast campaign. He ordered the removal of an image of Jesus prominently placed over the Chalke gate, the ceremonial entrance to the Great Palace of Constantinople, and its replacement with a cross. Some of those assigned to the task were murdered by a band of iconodules. Pope St. Gregory III "convoked a synod in 730 and formally condemned iconoclasm as heretical and excommunicated its promoters. The papal letter never reached Constantinople as the messengers were intercepted and arrested in Sicily by the Byzantines."
Second Council of Nicaea 787
In 780, Constantine VI ascended the throne in Constantinople, but being a minor, was managed by his mother Empress Irene. She decided that an ecumenical council needed to be held to address the issue of iconoclasm and directed this request to Pope Hadrian I (772–795) in Rome. He announced his agreement and called the convention on 1 August 786 in the presence of the Emperor and Empress. The initial proceedings were interrupted by the violent entry of iconoclast soldiers faithful to the memory of the prior Emperor Constantine V. This caused the council to be adjourned until a reliable army could be assembled to protect any proceedings. The council was reassembled at Nicaea 24 September 787. During those proceedings the following was adopted:
... we declare that we defend free from any innovations all the written and unwritten ecclesiastical traditions that have been entrusted to us. One of these is the production of representational art; this is quite in harmony with the history of the spread of the gospel, as it provides confirmation that the becoming man of the Word of God was real and not just imaginary, and as it brings us a similar benefit. For, things that mutually illustrate one another undoubtedly possess one another's message. ... we decree with full precision and care that, like the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, the revered and holy images, whether painted or made of mosaic or of other suitable material, are to be exposed in the holy churches of God, on sacred instruments and vestments, on walls and panels, in houses and by public ways; these are the images of our Lord, God and saviour, Jesus Christ, and of our Lady without blemish, the holy God-bearer, and of the revered angels and of any of the saintly holy men. The more frequently they are seen in representational art, the more are those who see them drawn to remember and long for those who serve as models, and to pay these images the tribute of salutation and respectful veneration. Certainly this is not the full adoration in accordance with our faith, which is properly paid only to the divine nature, but it resembles that given to the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, and also to the holy books of the gospels and to other sacred cult objects.
(Note:see  also for the original pretranslation text of this council in Greek and Latin)
Issues in Byzantine iconoclasm
Accounts of iconoclast arguments are largely found in iconodule writings. To understand iconoclastic arguments, one must note the main points:
- Iconoclasm condemned the making of any lifeless image (e.g. painting or statue) that was intended to represent Jesus or one of the saints. The "Epitome of the Definition of the Iconoclastic Conciliabulum" (Synod of Hiereia) held in 754 declared:
Supported by the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers, we declare unanimously, in the name of the Holy Trinity, that there shall be rejected and removed and cursed one of the Christian Church every likeness which is made out of any material and colour whatever by the evil art of painters.... If anyone ventures to represent the divine image (χαρακτήρ, charaktēr) of the Word after the Incarnation with material colours, let him be anathema! .... If anyone shall endeavour to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material colours which are of no value (for this notion is vain and introduced by the devil), and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself, let him be anathema!
- For iconoclasts, the only real religious image must be an exact likeness of the prototype – of the same substance – which they considered impossible, seeing wood and paint as empty of spirit and life. Thus for iconoclasts the only true (and permitted) "icon" of Jesus was the Eucharist, which was believed to be his body and blood.
- Any true image of Jesus must be able to represent both his divine nature (which is impossible because it cannot be seen nor encompassed) as well his human nature. But by making an icon of Jesus, one is separating his human and divine natures, since only the human can be depicted (separating the natures was considered nestorianism), or else confusing the human and divine natures, considering them one (union of the human and divine natures was considered monophysitism).
- Icon use for religious purposes was viewed as an innovation in the Church, a Satanic misleading of Christians to return to pagan practice.
Satan misled men, so that they worshipped the creature instead of the Creator. The Law of Moses and the Prophets cooperated to remove this ruin. ... But the previously mentioned demiurge of evil...gradually brought back idolatry under the appearance of Christianity.
The chief theological opponents of iconoclasm were the monks Mansur (John of Damascus), who, living in Muslim territory as advisor to the Caliph of Damascus, was far enough away from the Byzantine emperor to evade retribution, and Theodore the Studite, abbot of the Stoudios monastery in Constantinople. John declared that he did not venerate matter, "but rather the creator of matter." However he also declared, "But I also venerate the matter through which salvation came to me, as if filled with divine energy and grace." He includes in this latter category the ink in which the gospels were written as well as the paint of images, the wood of the Cross, and the body and blood of Jesus.
The iconodule response to iconoclasm included:
- Assertion that the biblical commandment forbidding images of God had been superseded by the incarnation of Jesus, who, being the second person of the Trinity, is God incarnate in visible matter. Therefore, they were not depicting the invisible God, but God as He appeared in the flesh. This became an attempt to shift the issue of the incarnation in their favor, whereas the iconoclasts had used the issue of the incarnation against them.
- Further, in their view idols depicted persons without substance or reality while icons depicted real persons. Essentially the argument was "all religious images not of our faith are idols; all images of our faith are icons to be venerated." This was considered comparable to the Old Testament practice of offering burnt sacrifices only to God, and not to any other gods.
- Moses had been instructed by God according to Exodus 25:18–22 to make golden statues of cherubim angels on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, and according to Exodus 26:31 God instructed Moses to embroider the curtain which separated the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle with cherubim.
- Regarding the written tradition opposing the making and veneration of images, they asserted that icons were part of unrecorded oral tradition (parádosis, sanctioned in Orthodoxy as authoritative in doctrine by reference to 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Basil the Great, etc.).
- Arguments were drawn from the miraculous Acheiropoieta, the supposed icon of the Virgin painted with her approval by St Luke, and other miraculous occurrences around icons, that demonstrated divine approval of Iconodule practices.
- Iconodules further argued that decisions such as whether icons ought to be venerated were properly made by the church assembled in council, not imposed on the church by an emperor. Thus the argument also involved the issue of the proper relationship between church and state. Related to this was the observation that it was foolish to deny to God the same honor that was freely given to the human emperor.
Within Muslim history, the act of removing idols from the Ka'ba in Mecca is considered by all believers to be of great symbolic and historical importance.
In general, Muslim societies have avoided the depiction of living beings (animals and humans) within such sacred spaces as mosques and madrasahs. This opposition to figural representation is not based on the Qur'an, but rather on various traditions contained within the Hadith. The prohibition of figuration has not always extended to the secular sphere, and a robust tradition of figural representation exists within Muslim art. However, western authors have tended to perceive "a long, culturally determined, and unchanging tradition of violent iconoclastic acts" within Islamic society.
The first act of Muslim iconoclasm was committed by Muslims in 630, when the various statues of Arabian deities housed in the Kaaba in Mecca were destroyed. There is a tradition that Muhammad spared a fresco of Mary and Jesus. This act was intended to bring an end to the idolatry which, in the Muslim view, characterized Jahiliyya.
The destruction of the idols of Mecca did not, however, determine the treatment of other religious communities living under Muslim rule after the expansion of the caliphate. Most Christians under Muslim rule, for example, continued to produce icons and to decorate their churches as they wished. A major exception to this pattern of tolerance in early Islamic history was the "Edict of Yazīd," issued by the Umayyad caliph Yazid II in 722–723. This edict ordered the destruction of crosses and Christian images within the territory of the caliphate. Researchers have discovered evidence that the order was followed, particularly in present-day Jordan, where archaeological evidence shows the removal of images from the mosaic floors of some, although not all, of the churches that stood at this time. But, Yazīd's iconoclastic policies were not continued by his successors, and Christian communities of the Levant continued to make icons without significant interruption from the sixth century to the ninth.
Despite a religious prohibition against destroying or converting houses of worship, certain conquering Muslim armies have used local temples or houses of worship as mosques. An example is Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), which was converted into a mosque in 1453. Most icons were desecrated whilst the rest were covered with plaster. In the 1920s, Hagia Sophia was converted to a museum, and the restoration of the mosaics was undertaken by the American Byzantine Institute beginning in 1932.
More dramatic cases of iconoclasm by Muslims are found in parts of India where Hindu and Buddhist temples were razed and mosques erected in their place (for example, the Qutub Complex and Babri Mosque). Another notable iconoclast was Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, who destroyed the famous Hindu temples at Varanasi and Mathura.
Certain Muslim denominations continue to pursue iconoclastic agendas. There has been much controversy within Islam over the recent, and apparently on-going, destruction by the Wahhabist authorities of Mecca of historic buildings (not images as such) which they feared were or would become the subject of "idolatry".
A recent act of iconoclasm was the 2001 destruction of the giant Buddhas of Bamyan by the then Taliban government of Afghanistan. The act generated world-wide protests and was not supported by other Muslim governments and organizations. It was widely perceived in the Western media as a result of the Muslim prohibition against figural decoration. Such an account overlooks "the coexistence between the Buddhas and the Muslim population that marveled at them for over a millennium" before their destruction.
The Buddhas had twice in the past been attacked by Nadir Shah and Aurengzeb. According to the art historian F.B. Flood, analysis of the Taliban's statements regarding the Buddhas suggest that their destruction was motivated more by political than by theological concerns. Taliban spokespeople have given many different explanations of the motives for the destruction.
In 2005 the Muhammad Cartoon Controversy sparked worldwide controversy and rioting. In December 2010 a group of iconoclasts were arrested as they were about to attack the Jyllands-Posten newspaper's office.
Some of the Protestant reformers, in particular Andreas Karlstadt, Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin, encouraged the removal of religious images by invoking the Decalogue's prohibition of idolatry and the manufacture of graven (sculpted) images of God. As a result, individuals attacked statues and images, and others were lost during unauthorised iconoclastic riots. However, in most cases, civil authorities removed images in an orderly manner in the newly reformed Protestant cities and territories of Europe.
Significant iconoclastic riots took place in Zurich (in 1523), Copenhagen (1530), Münster (1534), Geneva (1535), Augsburg (1537), Scotland (1559), and Saintes and La Rochelle (1562). The Seventeen Provinces (now the Netherlands, Belgium and parts of Northern France) were disrupted by widespread Protestant iconoclasm in the summer of 1566. This is called the "Beeldenstorm" and began with the destruction of the statuary of the Monastery of Saint Lawrence in Steenvoorde after a "Hagenpreek", or field sermon, by Sebastiaan Matte. Hundreds of other attacks included the sacking of the Monastery of Saint Anthony after a sermon by Jacob de Buysere. The Beeldenstorm marked the start of the revolution against the Spanish forces and the Catholic Church.
During the English Civil War, Bishop Joseph Hall of Norwich described the events of 1643 when troops and citizens, encouraged by a Parliamentary ordinance against superstition and idolatry, behaved thus:
Lord what work was here! What clattering of glasses! What beating down of walls! What tearing up of monuments! What pulling down of seats! What wresting out of irons and brass from the windows! What defacing of arms! What demolishing of curious stonework! What tooting and piping upon organ pipes! And what a hideous triumph in the market-place before all the country, when all the mangled organ pipes, vestments, both copes and surplices, together with the leaden cross which had newly been sawn down from the Green-yard pulpit and the service-books and singing books that could be carried to the fire in the public market-place were heaped together.'
William Dowsing was commissioned and salaried by the government to tour the towns and villages of East Anglia to destroy images in churches. His detailed record of his trail of destruction through Suffolk and Cambridgeshire survives:We broke down about a hundred superstitious Pictures; and seven Fryars hugging a Nunn; and the Picture of God and Christ; and divers others very superstitious; and 200 had been broke down before I came. We took away 2 popish Inscriptions with Ora pro nobis and we beat down a great stoneing Cross on the top of the Church.
Protestant Christianity was not uniformly hostile to the use of religious images. Martin Luther, initially hostile, came round to the view that Christians should be free to use religious images as long as they did not worship them in place of God. Lutheran scholar Jeremiah Ohl writes:Zwingli and others for the sake of saving the Word rejected all plastic art; Luther, with an equal concern for the Word, but far more conservative, would have all the arts to be the servants of the Gospel. “I am not of the opinion” said [Luther], “that through the Gospel all the arts should be banished and driven away, as some zealots want to make us believe; but I wish to see them all, especially music, in the service of Him Who gave and created them.” Again he says: “I have myself heard those who oppose pictures, read from my German Bible. … But this contains many pictures of God, of the angels, of men, and of animals, especially in the Revelation of St. John, in the books of Moses, and in the book of Joshua. We therefore kindly beg these fanatics to permit us also to paint these pictures on the wall that they may be remembered and better understood, inasmuch as they can harm as little on the walls as in books. Would to God that I could persuade those who can afford it to paint the whole Bible on their houses, inside and outside, so that all might see; this would indeed be a Christian work. For I am convinced that it is God’s will that we should hear and learn what He has done, especially what Christ suffered. But when I hear these things and meditate upon them, I find it impossible not to picture them in my heart. Whether I want to or not, when I hear, of Christ, a human form hanging upon a cross rises up in my heart: just as I see my natural face reflected when I look into water. Now if it is not sinful for me to have Christ’s picture in my heart, why should it be sinful to have it before my eyes?”—Ohl, pp. 88–89
Political and revolutionary iconoclasm
Revolutions and changes of regime, whether through uprising of the local population, foreign invasion or a combination of both, are often accompanied by the public destruction of statues and monuments identified with the previous regime. This may also be known as damnatio memoriae, the modern term used to describe the Ancient Roman practice of official obliteration of the memory of a specific individual. Stricter definitions of "iconoclasm" exclude both types of action, reserving the term for religious or more widely cultural destruction. In many cases, such as Revolutionary Russia or Ancient Egypt, this distinction can be hard to make. Examples of political destruction of images include:
- All public references to the "heretical" Pharaoh Akhenaten were destroyed soon after his death in about 1334 BC; a very laborious process with stone carved reliefs and inscriptions.
- Several Roman emperors and other political figures were subject to decrees of damnatio memoriae, including Sejanus, Publius Septimius Geta, and Domitian.
- During the American Revolution, the Sons of Liberty pulled down and destroyed the gilt lead statue of George III of the United Kingdom on Bowling Green (New York City), melting it down for use as musket balls against the British Army. Similar acts have accompanied the independence of most ex-colonial territories. Sometimes relatively intact monuments are moved to a collected display in a less prominent place, as in India and also post-Communist countries.
- During the French Revolution, the statue of King Louis XV, in the Paris square which until then bore his name, was pulled down and destroyed. This was a prelude to the guillotining of his successor Louis XVI in the same site, renamed "Place de la Révolution" (at present Place de la Concorde).
- The statue of Napoleon on the column at Place Vendôme, Paris was the target of iconoclasm several times: destroyed after the Bourbon Restoration, restored by Louis-Philippe, destroyed during the Paris Commune and restored by Adolphe Thiers.
- The October Revolution in 1917 was accompanied by destruction of monuments of past Tsars, as well as Russian Imperial Eagles, at various locations throughout Russia. "In front of a Moscow cathedral, crowds cheered as the enormous statue of Tsar Alexander III was bound with ropes and gradually beaten to the ground. After a considerable amount of time, the statue was decapitated and its remaining parts were broken into rubble."
- The Chinese Cultural Revolution included very widespread destruction of historic artworks in public places and private collections, whether religious or secular. Objects in state museums were mostly left intact.
- The fall of Communism in 1989 was followed by destruction or removal of statues of Lenin and other Communist leaders in the former Soviet Union. Particularly well-known was the destruction of "Iron Felix", the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky outside the KGB headquarters.
Iconoclasm against Hindus
During Muslim conquest
Records from the campaign recorded in the Chach Nama record temple demolitions during the early 8th century, when the Umayyad governor of Damascus, Hajjaj, mobilized an expedition of 6,000 cavalry under Muhammad bin-Qasim in 712 CE.
The historian, Upendra Thakur records the persecution of Hindus and Buddhists:
“ ...Muhammad triumphantly marched into the country, conquering Debal, Sehwan, Nerun, Brahmanadabad, Alor and Multan one after the other in quick succession, and in less than a year and a half, the far-flung Hindu kingdom was crushed .. There was a fearful outbreak of religious bigotry in several places and temples were wantonly desecrated. At Debal, the Nairun and Aror temples were demolished and converted into mosques. ”
Sultãn Sikandar Butshikan of Kashmir (AD 1389–1413) ordered the breaking of all "golden and silver images". The Tarikh-i-Firishta states: "After the emigration of the Bramins, Sikundur ordered all the temples in Kashmeer to be thrown down. Having broken all the images in Kashmeer, (Sikandar) acquired the title of ‘Destroyer of Idols’".
In 725 Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind, sent his armies to destroy the second Somanath temple. In 1024 AD, the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni who raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. The temple was rebuilt by the Gujjar Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhima of Gujarat (Anhilwara) or Patan between 1026 and 1042. The wooden structure was replaced by Kumarpal (r. 1143–72), who built the temple of stone. In 1296 AD, the temple was once again destroyed by Sultan Allauddin Khilji's army. According to Taj-ul-Ma'sir of Hasan Nizami, Raja Karan of Gujarat was defeated and forced to flee, "fifty thousand infidels were dispatched to hell by the sword" and "more than twenty thousand slaves, and cattle beyond all calculation fell into the hands of the victors". The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala Deva, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 AD and the Linga was installed by his son Khengar sometime between 1326 and 1351 AD. In 1375 AD, the temple was once again destroyed by Muzaffar Shah I, the Sultan of Gujarat. In 1451 AD, the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Begda, the Sultan of Gujarat. In 1701 AD, the temple was once again destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb built a mosque on the site of the Somnath temple, using some columns from the temple, whose Hindu sculptural motifs remained visible.
Mahmud of Ghazni was an Afghan Sultan who invaded the Indian subcontinent during the early 11th century. His campaigns across the gangetic plains are often cited for their iconoclastic plundering and destruction of temples such as those at Mathura and he looked upon their destruction as an act of "jihad". He sacked the second Somnath Temple in 1026, and looted it of gems and precious stones and the famous Shiva lingam of the temple was destroyed .
Historical records compiled by Muslim historian Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai attest to the iconoclasm of Qutb-ud-din Aybak. The first mosque built in Delhi, the "Quwwat al-Islam" was built after the demolition of the Hindu temple built previously by Prithvi Raj and certain parts of the temple were left outside the mosque proper. This pattern of iconoclasm was common during his reign, although an argument goes that such iconoclasm was motivated more by politics than by religion.
Another ruler of the sultanate, Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, conquered and subjugated the Hindu pilgrimage site Varanasi in the 11th century and he continued the destruction of Hindu temples and idols that had begun during the first attack in 1194.
No aspect of Aurangzeb's reign is more cited – or more controversial – than the numerous desecrations and even the destruction of Hindu temples. During his reign, tens of thousands of temples were desecrated: their facades and interiors were defaced and their murtis (divine images) looted. In many cases, temples were destroyed entirely; in numerous instances mosques were built on their foundations, sometimes using the same stones. Among the temples Aurangzeb destroyed were two that are most sacred to Hindus, in Varanasi and Mathura. In both cases, he had large mosques built on the sites.
The Kesava Deo temple in Mathura, marked the place that Hindus believe was the birth place of Shri Krishna. In 1661 Aurangzeb ordered the demolition of the temple, and constructed the Katra Masjid mosque. Traces of the ancient Hindu temple can be seen from the back of the mosque. Aurangzeb also destroyed what was the most famous temple in Varanasi – the Vishwanath Temple. The temple had changed its location over the years, but in 1585 Akbar had authorized its location at Gyan Vapi. Aurangzeb ordered its demolition in 1669 and constructed a mosque on the site, whose minarets stand 71 metres above the Ganges. Traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque. Centuries later, emotional debate about these wanton acts of cultural desecration continues. Aurangzeb also destroyed the Somnath temple in 1706.
Hindu nationalists claim that Mughals destroyed the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, located at the birthplace of Rama, and built the Babri Masjid on the holy site, which has since been a source of tension between the Hindu and Muslim communities.
Writer Fernand Braudel wrote in A History of Civilizations (Penguin 1988/1963, pp. 232–236), Islamic rule in India as a "colonial experiment" was "extremely violent", and "the Muslims could not rule the country except by systematic terror. Cruelty was the norm – burnings, summary executions, crucifixions or impalements, inventive tortures. Hindu temples were destroyed to make way for mosques. On occasion there were forced conversions. If ever there were an uprising, it was instantly and savagely repressed: houses were burned, the countryside was laid waste, men were slaughtered and women were taken as slaves."
In a two-volume book by Sita Ram Goel, Arun Shourie, Harsh Narain, Jay Dubashi and Ram Swarup, Hindu Temples – What Happened to Them, includes a list of 2000 mosques that it is claimed were built on Hindu temples in the first volume, which it is asserted is based primarily on the books of Muslim historians of the period or the inscriptions of the mosques. The second volume excerpts from medieval histories and chronicles and from inscriptions concerning the destruction of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples. The authors claim that the material presented in this book are only the tip of an iceberg.
During Goa inquisitions
Diago de Boarda, a priest, and his advisor Vicar General, Miguel Vaz, had made a 41 point plan for torturing Hindus. Under this plan Viceroy Antano de Noronha issued in 1566, an order applicable to the entire area under Portuguese rule:
I hereby order that in any area owned by my master, the king, nobody should construct a Hindu temple and such temples already constructed should not be repaired without my permission. If this order is transgressed, such temples shall be, destroyed and the goods in them shall be used to meet expenses of holy deeds, as punishment of such transgression.
In 1567 the campaign of destroying temples in Bardez met with success. At the end of it 300 Hindu temples were destroyed. In 1583 Hindu temples at Assolna and Cuncolim were destroyed through army action.
"The fathers of the Church forbade the Hindus under terrible penalties the use of their own sacred books, and prevented them from all exercise of their religion. They destroyed their temples, and so harassed and interfered with the people that they abandoned the city in large numbers, refusing to remain any longer in a place where they had no liberty, and were liable to imprisonment, torture and death if they worshipped after their own fashion the gods of their fathers." wrote Filippo Sassetti, who was in India from 1578 to 1588. An order was issued in June 1684 eliminating the Konkani language and making it compulsory to speak Portuguese language. Following that law all the symbols of non-Christian sects were destroyed and the books written in local languages were burnt.
Contemporary iconoclasm against Hindus
In June 2010, large-scale violence was reported in the Sangli town and also in Sangli district. In the melee, members of the minority community are said to have thrown stones inside a Ganesh mandal. The Maharashtra Police on Sunday arrested Mainuddin Shamsuddin Bagwan of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on charges of “committing acts for creating communal tension and encouraging destruction of peace” under Sections 143, 147, 149, 295, 153, 427, 120 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 135 of the Mumbai Police Act.
The 2010 Deganga riots began on 6 September when mobs resorted to arson and violence over a disputed structure at Deganga, Kartikpur and Beliaghata under the Deganga police station area. The violence began late in the evening and continued throughout the night into the next morning. The violence finally calmed down on 9 September after hundreds of business establishments and residences were looted, destroyed and burnt, dozens of people were severely injured and several places of worship desecrated and vandalized.
In June 2011 at Asansol Market area, a Hindu temple, under construction led by Bastim Bazaar Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committeewas and approved by ADM on 12 April 2011, was attacked by an Islamic mob.
In Bangladesh atrocities including targeted attacks against temples and open theft of Hindu property have increased sharply in recent years after the Jamat-e-Islami joined the coalition government led by the Bangladesh National Party. Hindu temples in Bangladesh have also been vandalised.
Several Hindu temples have been destroyed in Pakistan. A notable incident was the destruction of the Ramna Kali Mandir in former East Pakistan. The temple was bulldozed by the Pakistan Army on March 27, 1971.The Dhakeshwari Temple was severely damaged during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and over half of the temple's buildings were destroyed. In a major disrespect of the religion, the main worship hall was taken over by the Pakistan Army and used as an ammunitions storage area. Several of the temple custodians were tortured and killed by the Army though most, including the Head Priest, fled first to their ancestral villages and then to India and therefore escaped death.
In 2006, the last Hindu temple in Lahore was destroyed to pave the way for construction of a multi-storied commercial building. The temple was demolished after officials of the Evacuee Property Trust Board concealed facts from the board chairman about the nature of the building. When reporters from Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn tried to cover the incident, they were accosted by the henchmen of the property developer, who denied that a Hindu temple existed at the site.
Several political parties in Pakistan have objected to this move, such as the Pakistan People's party and the Pakistani Muslim League-N. The move has also evoked strong condemnation in India from minority bodies and political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress Party, as well as Muslim advocacy political parties such as the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat. A firm of lawyers representing the Hindu minority has approached the Lahore High Court seeking a directive to the builders to stop the construction of the commercial plaza and reconstruct the temple at the site. The petitioners maintain that the demolition violates section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code prohibiting the demolition of places of worship.
On June 29, 2005, following the arrest of an illiterate Christian janitor on allegations of allegedly burning Qur'an pages, a mob of between 300 and 500 Muslims destroyed a Hindu temple and houses belonging to Christian and Hindu families in Nowshera. Under the terms of a deal negotiated between Islamic religious leaders and the Hindu/Christian communities, Pakistani police later released all previously arrested perpetrators without charge.
Between April to May 2006, several Hindu temples were demolished by city hall authorities in the country, accompanied by violence against Hindus. On April 21, 2006, the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was reduced to rubble after the city hall sent in bulldozers. Many Hindu advocacy groups have protested what they allege is a systematic plan of temple cleansing in Malaysia. The official reason given by the Malaysian government has been that the temples were built "illegally". However, several of the temples are centuries old. On May 11, 2006, armed city hall officers from Kuala Lumpur forcefully demolished part of a 60-year-old suburban temple that serves more than 1,000 Hindus.
In Saudi Arabia
In Fiji according to official reports, attacks on Hindu institutions increased by 14% compared to 2004. This intolerance of Hindus has found expression in anti-Hindu speeches and destruction of temples, the two most common forms of immediate and direct violence against Hindus. Between 2001 and April 2005, one hundred cases of temple attacks have been registered with the police. The alarming increase of temple destruction has spread fear and intimidation among the Hindu minorities and has hastened immigration to neighboring Australia and New Zealand. organized religious institutions, such as the Methodist Church of Fiji, have repeatedly called for the creation of a theocratic Christian State and have propagated anti-Hindu sentiment. State favoritism of Christianity, and systematic attacks on temples, are some of the greatest threats faced by Fijian Hindus. Despite the creation of a human rights commission, the plight of Hindus in Fiji continues to be precarious.
During the Northern Expedition, in 1926 in Guangxi, Kuomintang Muslim General Bai Chongxi led his troops in destroying Buddhist temples and smashing idols, turning the temples into schools and Kuomintang party headquarters. It was reported that almost all of Buddhist monasteries in Guangxi were destroyed by Bai in this manner. The monks were removed. Bai led a wave of anti-foreignism in Guangxi, attacking American, European, and other foreigners and missionaries, and generally making the province unsafe for foreigners. Westerners fled from the province, and some Chinese Christians were also attacked as imperialist agents. The three goals of his movement were anti-foreignism, anti-imperialism, and anti-religion. Bai led the anti-religious movement against superstition. Muslims do not believe in superstition (see Shirk (Islam)) and his religion may have influenced Bai to take action against the idols in the temples and the superstitious practices in China. Huang Shaoxiong, also a Kuomintang member of the New Guangxi clique, supported Bai's campaign. Huang was not a Muslim, and the anti-religious campaign was agreed upon by all Guangxi Kuomintang members.
- Gregory Berns, author of the book Iconoclast
- Censorship by organized religion
- Decline of Hinduism in Pakistan
- Natural theology
- Lost artworks
References and notes
- ^ Literally, "image-breaking", from Ancient Greek: εἰκών and κλάω. Iconoclasm may be also considered as a back-formation from iconoclast (from Greek εἰκοκλάστης). The corresponding Greek word for iconoclasm is εἰκονοκλασία – eikonoklasia.
- ^ 
- ^ 
- ^ Auyezov, Olzhas. "Ukraine says blowing up Stalin statue was terrorism". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/05/us-ukraine-stalin-idUSTRE7043D920110105. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- ^ Cyril Mango, The Oxford History of Byzantium, 2002.
- ^ Mango, 2002.
- ^ Robin Cormack, Writing in Gold, Byzantine Society and its Icons, 1985, George Philip, London, ISBN 0-540-01085-5.
- ^ C Mango, "Historical Introduction", in Bryer & Herrin, eds., Iconoclasm, pp. 2-3., 1977, Centre for Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham, ISBN 0-7044-0226-2.
- ^ Byzantine iconoclasm
- ^ Cf. (ed.) F. GIOIA, The Popes – Twenty Centuries of History, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (2005), p. 40.
- ^ see Theophanes, Chronographia.
- ^ Cf. (ed.) F. GIOIA, The Popes – Twenty Centuries of History, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (2005), p. 41.
- ^ a b Tanner, Norman P., Alberigo, G., Dossetti, J. A., Joannou, P. P., Leonardi, C., and Prodi, P., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils Volume OneNicaea I to Lateran V, p. 132–136, Sheed & Ward and Georgetown University Press, London and Washington, D.C., [ISBN 0-87840-490-2]
- ^ a b Epitome of the Iconoclast Council at Hieria, 754 AD, Internet Medieval Sourcebook, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/icono-cncl754.html, also available from Christian Classics Ethereal Library
- ^ F.B. Flood, "Between cult and culture: Bamiyan, Islamic iconoclasm, and the museum", The Art Bulletin 84 (2002), 643–44.
- ^ F.B. Flood, "Between cult and culture: Bamiyan, Islamic iconoclasm, and the museum", The Art Bulletin 84 (2002), 641.
- ^ A. Grabar, L'iconoclasme byzantin: le dossier archéologique (Paris, 1984), 155–56.
- ^ G.R.D. King, "Islam, iconoclasm, and the declaration of doctrine", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 48 (1985), 276–7.
- ^ al-Maqrīzī, writing in the 15th century, attributes the damage to Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim fanatic from the khanqah of Sa'id al-Su'ada, in 1378.
- ^ Independent Newspaper on-line, London, Jan 19, 2007
- ^ Islamica Magazine
- ^ F.B. Flood, "Between cult and culture: Bamiyan, Islamic iconoclasm, and the museum", The Art Bulletin 84 (2002), 654.
- ^ F.B. Flood, "Between cult and culture: Bamiyan, Islamic iconoclasm, and the museum", The Art Bulletin 84 (2002), 651–55.
- ^ Neil Kamil, Fortress of the soul: violence, metaphysics, and material life, p. 148
- ^ a b White, C.H. Evelyn (1885). The journal of William Dowsing of Stratford, parliamentary visitor, appointed under a warrant from the Earl of Manchester, for demolishing the superstitious pictures and ornaments of churches &c., within the county of Suffolk, in the years 1643–1644. p. 15. http://www.archive.org/details/journalofdowsing00whituoft.
- ^ a b Ohl, Jeremiah F. (1906). "Art in Worship". Memoirs of the Lutheran Liturgical Association. 2. Pittsburgh: Lutheran Liturgical Association. pp. 83–99. http://www.blc.edu/comm/gargy/gargy1/Memoirs.Volume2.html.
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- ^ Sindhi Culture by U.T. Thakkur, Univ. of Bombay Publications, 1959.
- ^ Firishta, Muhammad Qãsim Hindû Shãh; John Briggs (translator) (1829–1981 Reprint). Tãrîkh-i-Firishta (History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India). New Delhi.
- ^ a b c d e f "Leaves from the past". http://www.indiafirstfoundation.org/Glimpses%20of%20Indian%20History/Articles/Leaves%20From%20The%20Past/Somnath%20thesymbolofNtionalpride_m.htm.
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- ^ Saunders, Kenneth. A Pageant of India. H. Milford, Oxford University Press pg. 162.
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- ^ Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai "Hindustan Islami Ahad Mein" (Hindustan under Islamic rule), Eng Trans by Maulana Abdul Hasan Nadwi.
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- ^ Elliot, Henry Miers (1953). The History of India: as told by its own historians; the Muhammadan period (Excerpt from Jamiu'l-Hikayat). University of Michigan.
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- ^ Kareem, C.K (1973) . Kerala Under Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan P187. Kerala History Association : distributors, Paico Pub. House. p. 322.
- ^ http://voi.org/books/htemples1/
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- ^ http://voiceofdharma.com/books/foe/ch15.htm
- ^ a b c d The Goa Inquisition by Christian Historian Dr. T. R. de Souza
- ^ Sangli rages with riots, MiD DAY Infomedia, Date: 2009-09-06.
- ^ NCP leader arrested for Miraj riots, Express news service, Mon Jun 14 2010, 03:15 hrs.
- ^ "Communal clash near Bangla border, Army deployed". Kolkata: The Times of India. September 8, 2010. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Communal-clash-near-Bangla-border-Army-deployed/articleshow/6516123.cms. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- ^ "Army out after Deganga rioting". Kolkata: The Times of India. September 8, 2010. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata-/Army-out-after-Deganga-rioting/articleshow/6516493.cms. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- ^ "Curfew in Bengal district, Army called in". Kolkata: Indian Express. September 8, 2010. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Curfew-in-Bengal-district--Army-called-in/678774. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- ^ Bose, Raktima (September 8, 2010). "Youth killed in group clash". The Hindu. http://www.hindu.com/2010/09/08/stories/2010090859680100.htm. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- ^ Samhati, Hindu. "Frenzied Muslims make brutal attacks on Hindus in Asansol to stop temple construction". Hindu Samhati. South Bengal Herald. http://southbengalherald.blogspot.com/2011/06/frenzied-muslims-make-brutal-attacks-on.html. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
- ^ http://www.bhbcuc-usa.org/
- ^ http://hrcbm.org/
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- ^ Gupta, Jyoti Bhushan Das (2007). Science, technology, imperialism, and war - History of science, philosophy, and culture in Indian civilization. Volume XV. Science, technology, and philosophy ; pt. 1. Pearson Education India. p. 733. ISBN 9788131708514. http://books.google.com/?id=EJuM4FylchwC&pg=PA733.
- ^ "Hindu temples". Archived from the original on 2006-07-01. http://web.archive.org/web/20060701021512/http://www.hinduhumanrights.org/temples/temples.html. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
- ^ Frank Pallone (2004-05-17). Persecution Of Hindus In Bangladesh (article mirrored from the US Library of Congress). http://www.hvk.org/articles/0504/110.html. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
- ^ "Hindu temple attacked, idols destroyed in B'desh: Official". The Times Of India. February 6, 2010. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Hindu-temple-attacked-idols-destroyed-in-Bdesh-Official-/articleshow/5543091.cms.
- ^ http://www.mayerdak.com/root/destruction89.htm
- ^ http://voi.org/books/htemples1/app.htm
- ^ Another temple is no more,Dawn.
- ^ Hindu temple in Lahore demolished,Rediff.com.
- ^ Only Hindu Temple in Lahore demolished,Times of India.
- ^ India protests demolition of Hindu temple in Pak,Times of India.
- ^ Order for temple's reconstruction sought,Gulf News.
- ^ US Department of State International Religious Freedom Report 2006
- ^ Temple row – a dab of sensibility please,malaysiakini.com.
- ^ Muslims Destroy Century-Old Hindu Temple,gatago.com
- ^ a b Hindu group protests 'temple cleansing' in Malaysia,Financial Express.
- ^ Marshall, Paul. Saudi Arabia's Religious Police Crack Down. Freedom House.
- ^ a b Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights 2005
- ^ Diana Lary (1974). Region and nation: the Kwangsi clique in Chinese politics, 1925-1937. Cambridge University Press. p. 98. ISBN 0521202043. http://books.google.com/books?id=tCA9AAAAIAAJ&dq=accused+chiang+feudal&q=muslim#v=onepage&q=pai%20smashing%20idols%20decapitating%20statues&f=false. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- ^ Don Alvin Pittman (2001). Toward a modern Chinese Buddhism: Taixu's reforms. University of Hawaii Press. p. 146. ISBN 00824822315. http://books.google.com/books?id=LxDUeWdMubkC&pg=PA146&dq=bai+chongxi+buddhist+temples#v=onepage&q=bai%20chongxi%20buddhist%20temples&f=false. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- ^ Diana Lary (1974). Region and nation: the Kwangsi clique in Chinese politics, 1925-1937. Cambridge University Press. p. 99. ISBN 0521202043. http://books.google.com/books?id=tCA9AAAAIAAJ&dq=accused+chiang+feudal&q=muslim#v=snippet&q=missionary%20crowd&f=false. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
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- Barasch, Moshe (1992). Icon: Studies in the History of an Idea. University of New York Press. ISBN 0-8147-1172-3.
- Besançon, Alain (2009). The Forbidden Image: An Intellectual History of Iconoclasm. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226044149.
- Bevan, Robert (2006). The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War. Reaktion Books. ISBN 9781861893192.
- Freedberg, David (1977). The Structure of Byzantine and European Iconoclasm. University of Birmingham, Centre for Byzantine Studies. pp. 165–177. ISBN 9780704402263. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/arthistory/faculty/Freedberg/Structure-byzantine-european-iconoclasm.pdf.
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- Iconclasm in England, Holy Cross College
- Design as Social Agent at the ICA by Kerry Skemp, April 5, 2009
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