"To bomb Iraq means to bomb the history of the planet," Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage and a leading orientalist, said in a RIA Novosti interview.
According to him, Iraq possesses exclusively valuable antiquities. "Without doubt, the war will damage many archaeological monuments and Babylon, the world's oldest city, is likely to be jeopardised too," Piotrovsky said.
To bomb the country, he believes, means "to bomb not just cultural values, but our own history." "The Christian civilisation to which now belongs a considerable part of the population of Russia and America originates from the oldest civilisation of Iraq," the scientist said.
Iraq, Piotrovsky said, "is almost the sole country in the Middle East where Muslims and Christians coexist peacefully, with the latter holding the highest posts in the government." Referring to the "bad regime" in Iraq one should bear in mind that the country is ruled by the Party of Arab Socialist Revival which advocates the ideas of nationalism, not religious ideas, he said.
In this connection Piotrovsky stressed that the nationalist trends in the Arab world have always contained fundamentalism and their downfall has always made the aggressive fundamentalism raise its head.
Meanwhile, the scientist believes, "Christian fundamentalists, who are no better than Muslim ones, have lately stepped up their activity in the West." "Careless military or ideological actions similar to those taking place in Iraq now can trigger a conflict between Islam and Christianity which, as a result, may split humankind and it will be worse than the world's recent division into the socialist and the capitalist camps," he stressed.
There was no urgent need to interfere in Iraq's internal affairs, in particular by the use of force that will claim human lives and bring destruction, Piotrovsky said. "Now," he said, "the international political system which was established after the Second World War and is based on the rights of sovereignty of world countries is at stake and may be totally destroyed." "Historians will describe the war in Iraq as a typical 21st-century colonial war when, aware of its power and the impossibility to be rebuffed, the strong imposed its will on the weak," Mikhail Piotrovsky believes.