The Umawi mosque in Aleppo has burnt. Its thousand-year-old minaret has fallen. The minaret of Dera‘a’s Omari mosque, built in the seventh Century by Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab, has been destroyed. And today the Khalid ibn al-Waleed mosque in Homs, built around the mausoleum of the famous Muslim general and companion of the Prophet, was shelled and burnt. These are ancient mosques of enormous significance to Muslims, and they are world heritage. They were. They survived the Mongols, but not Assad.
It’s clear the Western media does not understand the religious, cultural and historical importance of these sites. Assad’s cultural vandalism and civilisational provocations are worse than the Taliban’s assault on the Bamiyan Buddha. Am I wrong to think that an attack by rogue elements of the Syrian resistance on a major Shia shrine would raise a far greater noise?
Many Muslims too are strangely quiet. If the Israelis were to hit a mosque of such vast symbolic resonance, you can bet there’d be furious demonstrations from Casablanca to Jakarta, from London to Lahore.
What’s happening is no secret. The shabeeha write it on the walls: “Al-Assad or We’ll Burn the Country.” The world worries about Islamists, about hypothetical future persecutions, about the chess game between America and Russia, Israel and Iran. Meanwhile the country burns. The people and their history burn. And the flammable poison of sectarian hatred seeps out from Syria, to east and west.
One thought on “Burning the Mosques”
Robin Yassin-Kassab, the author of this brief but immeasurably important article, must be commended for exposing not only the barbaric nature of the Assad’s regime, but also the “complicity of silence” of the media as well as politicians (including Arabs and Muslims) regarding the deliberate and systematic destruction of the priceless cultural heritage of Syria by members and supporters of this totally un-Syrian murderous regime. How could any thoughtful and self-respecting person justify, let alone support, the continuation of this essentially illegitimate regime whose very existence has become an insult to human decency and civilization?
I weep for the unforgivable loss of the precious Syrian heritage which embodies the nobility and richness of human civilization.