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Culture

Chronology of extremist attacks on art

Culture is the heart of a society and often a preferred target of extremists who want to squelch a people's lust for life. In Paris, the Bataclan was a symbol of musical enjoyment. DW looks at other attacks on culture.

2015: Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France

A European tour took the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal to the stage of the sold-out Bataclan, playing to 1,500 spectators on the evening of November 13. Four terrorists reportedly shot into the crowd for over 10 minutes, killing at least 89 people. The Bataclan is one of the most prestigious venues in Paris.

2015: Archaeologist beheaded in Palmyra, Syria

The "Islamic State" in August beheaded a prominent Syrian antiquities scholar in Palmyra before hanging his body from a column. Khaled al-Asaad, 82, had been taken hostage after the group seized the ancient site earlier this year. He had looked after the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria for more than 50 years and was considered one of the most important pioneers of Syrian archaeology.

2015: Attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia

In March, two gunmen linked to the IS stormed Tunisia's Bardo National Museum and killed 24 people. The museum is one of Tunis' main tourist attractions, housing a rich collection of archaeological finds, including remains of the ancient city of Carthage. The museum shares an entrance with Tunisia's parliament.

2015: Murders at the "Charlie Hebdo" editorial office

On January 7, two Islamist gunmen entered the satirical magazine's Paris office and killed 12 individuals. "Charlie Hebdo" had published satirical caricatures dealing with Islam, to which extremists took offence. One week after the attack, "Charlie Hebdo" resumed publication.

Je suis Charlie signs and pens, Copyright: Getty Images/AFP/X.Leoty

The Charlie Hebdo attack unleased a flood of collective mourning via social media

2014: Suicide bomb during theater performance in Kabul

During a performance in Kabul in December 2014, a young suicide bomber blew himself up, killing one other person. Later, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying that the performance was offensive to Islamic values. The play was titled "Heartbeats. Silence After the Explosion" and dealt with the issue of suicide bombings.

2010: Attack on Danish caricaturist Kurt Westergaard

On January 1, 2010, Danish illustrator Kurt Westergaard narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by a member of al Qaeda. He had drawn the ire of Islamist extremists after publishing a cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad with a bomb on his head in the Danish newspaper "Jyllands-Posten" in 2005. Westergaard now lives under police protection.

Kurt Westergaard, Copyright: Malcolm Brabant

Kurt Westergaard, now 80, still lives under police protection

2004: Murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh

Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was known for making offensive comments about Islam, even comparing Muslims to people who have sexual relations with animals. On November 2, 2004, he was murdered on the street in Amsterdam by a Dutch-born Islamic extremist. Van Gogh's film "Submission" was considered an affront to Islam, since it shows images from the Koran being projected onto transparently veiled girls' bodies.

2001: Luxor Massacre in Egypt

Sixty-two people, mostly tourists, were killed in November, 2001, in an attack near the Luxor archaeological site. The Egyptian extremist organization Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya was held responsible for the tragedy, though it later denied involvement.

1997: Mass arrests at Egyptian heavy metal concert

In Egypt, heavy metal bands cannot play freely. Prior to the Arab Spring, hard rock could only be heard underground. Those who played the "devil's music" were persecuted. In 1997, 80 young people were arrested at a heavy metal concert on suspicion of Satan worship. Since the Arab Spring, however, musicians and their fans have experienced more freedom.

1993: Artists killed at Sivas Massacre in Turkey

In July 1993, an angry crowd of Salafists gathered at the fringe of an Alevi culture festival in the Anatolian city of Sivas. The writers, musicians and poets participating in the festival were staying in a hotel made entirely of wood. Sparks flew from the crowd and set the hotel on fire. Thirty-five people were killed, including prominent Turkish artists. The tragedy is now known as the Sivas Massacre.

Salman Rushdie at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Copyright: picture alliance/Geisler-Fotopress/P. Back

In October, Salman Rushdie opened the Frankfurt Book Fair

1989: Fatwa on author Salman Rushdie

British-Indian author Salman Rushdie was at the height of his career when he published his acclaimed novel "The Satanic Verses" in 1988. The Islamic world protested against the work, accusing him of blasphemy. On February 14, 1989, Iran's religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini placed a fatwa on Rushdie, calling for his death and placing a bounty of $2.8 million (2,6 million euros) on his head. Today, Rushdie lives in hiding and is under police protection.