A Not-so-Honorary Doctorate
In 2004, Rome University La Sapienza granted Asma al-Assad an Honorary PhD in Archeology in recognition of her efforts in preserving Syrian heritage.
Efforts to preserve Syrian heritage, however, seem to have taken an infinite hiatus since the Syrian revolution started, in light of the desperate measures taken by Syrian regime to remain in power. “Assad, or we burn the land” is a phrase graffitied frequently by Assad’s forces on the walls of many cities and villages they had passed by and “cleansed”, informing the living and the dead of what their forthcoming destiny is like, and of their punishment for ungratefully reciprocating Assad’s favour of ruining Syrian identify over the past 40 years.
After the many meetings Assad has had over the past 18 months, several sources have speculated that Assad claimed that he would not step down until Syria is back 40 years in time, as in, he will only hand it back in the same condition his father received it, over 40 years ago.
However, we should wonder, are historical citadels and souks and castles a gift or a donation from Assads to Syria, that was granted to the country and is now due back?
And assuming that civilisations of thousands of years that the land of Syria has witnessed are mere endowments from Assads, is it considered good manners to request such rewards back?
Manners in a situation of the such are not to be considered when the person in reference has already proclaimed himself a God and found himself some riffraffs racing to kiss his behind – trifles who know they’ll pay the price for their lunacy.
This person in reference has no respect for human lives, for children’s lives, for animals’ lives, so why expect him to have empathy for collections of stones.
Images of the burnt old souk of the city of Aleppo have emerged a couple of days ago. The Aleppo souk is the longest historical old souk in the world. Assad made history by being the head of Syrian state on the day this souk was burnt down by his men.
Aleppo’s old souk is not the very first historical monument to be destroyed by Assad and his men inline with his war against the alleged ‘armed gangs’ that threatened the stability of his presidential status. Other places targeted include the Omayyad mosque in Aleppo, Aleppo Citadel, Dar Zamaraya and the old Immigration department in Aleppo also, Al-Madeeq Citadel in Hama, residential districts near Krak des Chevaliers, St. Mary Church of the Holy Belt in Homs, and many other documented and non-documented assaults on historical sites.
Assault on Madeeq Citadel, Hama
Assault on residential areas near Krak des Chevaliers
Assualt on St. Mary Church of the Holy Belt, Homs
It’s not my intention here to point fingers or justify some actions undertaken by the Free Syrian Army, as some find it easier to blame FSA for the destruction of historical sites, villages, and cities since their presence in any area induces the level of aggression undertaken by Assad’s men. The situation should be addressed as follows: from day one, the Syrian regime has declared war against everyone who did and did not chant against it. It has announced collective punishment to those who did or did not surrender to it. All Syrians have become the enemy of the regime, and therefore, this regime who claims to be running this country must be held accountable for the destruction of historical monuments that had borne witness to thousands of years of civilisations.
It’s not my intention either to derogate the level of bloodshed as opposed to destruction of historical sites.
But it’s crucial to pause and review our world’s impudence; to question those universities giving out Honorary Academic degrees, are we to exclude Aleppo’s souk, citadel, and immigration office, Madeeq Citadel, Krak des Chevaliers, and St. Mary’s Church of the Holy Belt from our history so as to they can save some face? Or shall we wait for Hamidyeh, Bzouriyeh, Medhat Pasha, and Qanawat souks in Damascus, in addition to Azem Palace, Damascus Citadel, Zaitoun Church and Chapel of Saint Paul to be bombed, raided, or destroyed for the universities and global organisations for heritage conservation to confess that the doctors in charge have failed to preserve Syria’s heritage, and in fact contributed to their obliteration?
In any case, congratulations to the first lady are in order for making history instead of preserving it, she and her husband are long burnt, just like they burnt Syria.
For the same article in Arabic, click here