The expansion project is set to cost 25 billion SAR (more than US billion), and will reportedly require the razing of the holy sites which date back to the seventh century.
The Saudis insist that colossal expansion of both Mecca and Medina is essential to make a way for the growing numbers of pilgrims.
(On the other hand, the story about Muslims burning the ancient Library of Alexandria appears apocryphal.) Finally, there is another pattern, turning non-Islamic holy places into Islamic ones.Since the onset of the conflict in Syria, the international community has expressed alarm over the fate of the country's diverse heritage landmarks and stunning archaeological sites, as rebel and government forces have transformed historical treasures such as the 1,000-year-old Aleppo souk and the crusader castle Crac des Chevaliers into theaters of war.As the war nears its third year, the United Nations and conservationists warn that Syria's historical sites face a new and more dangerous threat: a sophisticated network of smugglers and dealers prime among them members of the cash-strapped insurgency looking to capitalize on the country's cultural riches. This new offensive is not only a military campaign for jihad and for the creation of Islamic states ruled by sharia law; rather it is explicitly for the elimination of the non-Islamist past—an ideological offensive to remove the memories, historical artifacts, monuments, buildings, or any other evidence of the history and contribution of Judaism, Christianity, and even the moderate forms of Islam to civilization.Both the rebels and the Syrian government have pledged publicly to protect the nation's ancient structures. July 2, 2013 update: An inventory of manuscripts in Timbuktu finds, according to David Stehl of UNESCO, that "Of the 46,000 manuscripts that were held by the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research, 4,203 manuscripts were either burned by the Islamists or stolen." Byzantine-era walls in the historic Yedikule Gardens have been damaged by earthmovers constructing a new park, according to a warning issued by the Istanbul branch of the Association of Archaeologists.
"The area lies in a protected strip of land walls that are on UNESCO's World Heritage List and is also a part of the historical peninsula, which is protected," reads the report. In 2012, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula videotaped themselves destroying the ancient mausoleum of al-Ja'dani outside Jaar in Abyan province in Yemen. While Libya's National Museum in Tripoli survived the 2011 war largely intact, a "collection of priceless coins, jewelry and small statues" known as the "treasures of Benghazi" dating back to the age of Alexander the Great, were stolen from a bank vault in May 2011.The story about conquering Muslims burning the ancient Library of Alexandria is apocryphal but otherwise Muslim rage against cultural and historical artifacts is real, persistent, and in need of explanation.