“Protecting Our Cultural Heritage Against Illicit Trafficking, a National Duty: Mushaweh

“Our great cultural heritage is currently, more than ever, being exposed to a serious threat that endangers our national identity, Culture Minister Lubana Mushaweh has said, stressing that “it is our national and humanitarian duty to protect this heritage against stealing, smuggling and illicit trafficking.

Mushaweh was speaking during a workshop held on Sunday by the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums (GDAM) at Damascus National Museum to tackle the issue of illicit trafficking of cultural properties.

The workshop, which was held under the patronage of the Culture Ministry, aimed to discuss ways of fighting illicit trafficking of antiquities, building abilities and enhancing awareness about preserving cultural properties from threats.

The historical and cultural importance of smuggled Syrian antiquities, the effectiveness of the local and international laws, which control illicit trafficking of antiquities, under the current international developments, besides the role of the Syrian government in disseminating awareness about preserving the country’s national heritage and antiquities are the main topics listed on the workshop’s agenda.

According to minister Mushaweh, the workshop, which is being held under the critical circumstances Syria is passing through, comes within the framework of the ministry’s cooperation with concerned government bodies to put an end to the danger threatening Syrian antiquities.

She pointed out that the great efforts being exerted by the archaeological institutions can’t stand alone in the face the vicious aggression and dangerous violations targeting the Syrian antiquities and archeological sites.

“Unjust excavations in some Syrian archeological sites left more than 300 holes that led to the destruction of some archeological buildings dating back to the Hellenistic age in the 3rd century BC,” Mushaweh said, stressing that these aggressions necessitate from concerned parties to unify efforts to alleviate losses and avoid more serious aggressions.

“The Syrian cultural heritage is a source of pride to all humanity, said the minister, stressing that the international community must shoulder the responsibility towards supporting Syrian archeological institutions to help them face the barbaric aggression against this heritage.

Concluding her statement, the minister thanked the archeologists and researchers who back the ministry’s effort to combat the illicit trafficking of the Syrian antiquities and who spare no effort at international scientific forums to disseminate awareness about the reality of events in Syria and uncover the conspiracy which targets the Syrian cultural heritage.

Director of the GDAM Maamoun Abdul Karim said that stealing and smuggling antiquities is an old problem which threatens Syria’s unique heritage, pointing out that Syria has lost a precious part of its heritage as traders and smugglers of cultural properties were active during the past few decades in violating cultural and archeological places in the country.

He added Syria was among the first countries which were keen to enhance international cooperation to combat illicit trafficking of human and cultural heritage and to protect cultural properties in armed conflicts.

Experts participating in the workshop highlighted the GDAM’s experience in preserving Syria’s diverse cultural heritage and called for drawing up an integrated national strategy in coordination with government parties, civil society organizations and individuals in order to protect Syria’s cultural heritage which was accumulated over long ages.

H. Mustafa

Iranian Film Depicts Syrians' Terrorism-caused Suffering

In his new film, "Behind the Clouds", Iranian film director Hassan Karbakhsh is due to depict the suffering of the Syrian people as a result of the crimes being perpetrated by the armed terrorist groups in Syria.

Karbakhsh said in a statement on Monday that the Arabic-speaking film deals with the crisis in Syria and focuses on the Syrian people's determination to defend their homeland and confront the Jihadist thinking of the takfirists and the salafists.

Karbakhsh wrote the story of the film himself, but a Syrian scenarist will rewrite it to be so close to the reality of events in the country.

According to the Iranian film maker, "Behind the Clouds" tells the story of a doctor, whose father is a famous trader and who is kidnapped during the latest events in Syria.

He pointed out that filming will be done in safe Syrian areas.

H. Mustafa

Fairuz Angel Voice Sweetens Syrians’ Mornings

Who in the world doesn’t know the Arab song legend Fairuz, the renowned Lebanese songstress, whose songs touch upon people’s conscience across the Arab homeland.

In Syria, her angel unique voice used to accompany the mornings of most Syrians while having their coffee at home or at office, while driving towards their job or while having breakfast. She keeps being the partner of our everyday life and of our intellectual, spiritual and emotional moments in a way no other singer can do.

 Fairuz, 77,  has enriched the Arab musical library with wonderful songs about the homeland and love. Damascus, in particular, was so dear to the heart of the songstress that many of her songs talk about the glorious history and beauty of this city.  These songs penetrate our conscience, fix our mood and help us know how to continue optimistic.

Born in 1935 in Jabal Alarz in Lebanon to a poor, but happy and never needy family, Nouhad Haddad, better known as Fairuz, started her artistic career in the early forties, when Mohamed Flayfel, a veteran composer and song writer discovered her while looking for young people to join his choir at a radio program. A few months later, and with the help of Flayfel, she joined the national Lebanese radio station's choir.

Fairuz remained singing in the choir for about two months until they auditioned her for solo performances. One of the station's managers, Halim Elrumi, realized the potential of Fairuz’s voice and started giving her songs of his. Elrumi decided to present her to Assy and Mansour Rahbani, who both liked her voice very much. By 1951, she had sung songs written by Elrumi, Medhat Asem, Nikola Almani, Salim Elhelou, Mohamed Mohsen, Tawfick Basha, Khaled Abou Naser and many others. Later, Assy and Mansour decided to compose songs for Fairuz and started to develop their special form of Lebanese song.

Fairuz sang the traditional songs in new arrangements like 'Elbint Elshalabia' and also totally original songs like 'Nehna Wel Amar Jiran'. In July of 1954, Fairuz and Assy got married and the couple moved to Assy’s house in Antelias, north of Beirut.

With songs like Itab, Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were starting to become famous in many countries around the Arab world. They were invited many times by the Damascus radio station to present their works. Another radio station, Sawet Elarab from Egypt, sent their leading anchor Ahmed Said to Lebanon to strike a deal with the trio. In 1955 the Rahbani brothers and Fairuz went to Cairo, and it was there where they wrote the most important musical work at that time, Rajioun.                  

Fairuz and the Rahbanis returned to Beirut, and on the first day of 1956 she gave birth to her first son Ziad. The following year she sang 'Libnan ya Akhder Helou' in Baalbeck. That was the spark which was followed by the incredible works of the Rahbani brothers in Baalbeck. They also showed these and other works on different stages including those of the Damascus festival, Casino Du Liban, Cedars and the Piccadily theater. Fairuz's talent was not limited to the Rahbani works and she sang songs that were composed by others like Philemon Wehbe, Mohamed Abdelwahab and Elias Rahbani.

In 1971 she went with the Rahbani brothers and troupe on a successful tour in the United States. They also went on tours around the world setting foot in every continent. Fairuz graced many stages and theaters including Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Olympia in Paris. In the late 70's however, Fairuz's relationship with Assy and Mansour deteriorated and their work bond was broken. After Assy’s death, she continued singing the Rahbani songs as well as her son's Ziad creative and mainly jazz influenced songs. She also got to work with Zaki Nassif and Mohamed Mohsen. In 1998, the songstress returned to Baalbeck and her concerts were a smashing success.

Fairuz got many awards for her great contribution to the Arab culture including:

Al-Arz Order of the knight rank (Lebanon 1962), Al-Istehkak Al-Loubnani Order

Al-Istehkak Al-Souri Order (Syria 1967), Order of the officer rank (Lebanon 1970), Al-Nahda Al-Urdoni Order of the first degree (Jordan), Order of the Comondour rank (France 1988), Jerusalem Order (Palestine 1997), Althaqafa Alrafie' Order(Tunisia 1998). 

Though she is old, Fairuz continues to release new material and perform concerts around the world.

H. Mustafa

Youths and dialogue 'key words' to save Syria, says Mushaweh

DAMASCUS,(ST)_For the second time, Culture Ministry mounts a symposium on national dialogue at al-Assad  library in the capital.

But this time the focus is on Syrian youths' pivotal role in dialogue as they make up 60% of society.

Lubana Mushaweh, Culture Minister, said at the opening ceremony that youths and national dialogue are two key words to save the homeland and build its future.

"National dialogue is the only outlet to surpass the crisis. It must stem from belief in its workability and it must be based on equality and respect for others' opinion," the minister said.

She underscored that culture of dialogue leads to realize peace in any society, adding:" youths fortified against narrow-mindedness and isolation are the ablest to build the county's future."

"The symposium aims at having an idea about some intellectuals and researchers' opinions on youths' situation and their role in forthcoming national dialogue. We are meeting here because we are all aware of dangerous of continuity of bloodshed in Syria," Mushaweh said.

Arab intellect

For his part, the intellectual Yehya Abo Zakareya from Algeria spoke on behalf of participants in the symposium and criticized absence of Arab intellect in bringing about solution to the crisis in Syria.

"Terrorism is created by the Zionist entity and it goes along with its system based on killing the other and eliminating all those who go against its system."

"We have to preserve national landmarks in order not to hear from our children and grandchildren that our states are developing and the Zionist entity is developed," Abo Zakareya said.

High national interest

Head of Syrian Youths Council Ihab Hamed said in his speech that dialogue based on political program is a high national interest to resolve the crisis in Syria.

"The Mass media and IT must be dialogue tools depending on understanding and awareness," he added.   

The two-day symposium entitled "Syrian youths and national dialogue" was kicked off today (Sunday) with participation of Arab researchers from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Algeria.

Basma Qaddour

Turkish Illegal Trade of Syrian Monuments Deplored at UNESCO meeting

PARIS,(ST)_The Syrian delegation to the works of the 191 session of UNESCO Executive Council , concluded in Paris yesterday stressed  that the Turkish Government of the Justice and Development Party, is  involved illegal trade of Syrian Monuments .

In  a memorandum submitted to the Council refuting  the allegations of the Turkish delegation on Syria 's  breaching  obligations of UN  organizations  conventions, the Syrian delegation  unveiled the  conspiracy against Syria  at UNESCO, perpetrated by  Turkey the US and its hirelings .

The Syrian memorandum  emphasized Syria's steadfastness in  confronting terrorism and the Salafi ideology wreaking Syria  through looting, killing and destruction of the human legacy and unmatched civilization.

 Delegations of the Russian Federation, China, Venezuela, Cuba, Gabon, Iran called for  halting the Turkish hegemony against Syria, describing it as  a blatant interference the affairs of one of UNESCO  founding member  state, while the delegations of the US, Japan, Pakistan and Egypt,  supported the Turkish hostile position against  Syria.

UNESCO 's Director-General Irina Bokova asked member states  to support efforts to maintain the humanity heritage in Syria , stressing that  preserving the Syrian  heritage is part of the responsibility before the international community.

She indicated efforts made by UNESCO since the beginning  of the crisis in Syria to condemn acts of violence and systematic abuse on Syrian  heritage and archeological sites especially sites   on the list of World Heritage,  confirming  that UNESCO's work  is a moral duty necessitated  by the responsibility of safeguarding exceptional cultural heritage , owned by  all mankind , noting that the Syrian archaeological sites created  dialogue between cultures .

In turn, President of UNESCO  Executive Council Alessandra Cummins demanded Member States to avoid  political polarization threatening UNESCO 's values.

 Worthy mentioning that  the Syrian delegation to the  works of UNESCO 's  191  session included Deputy Minister of culture, Syria 's Permanent Representative at UNESCO and Syria 's National Committee secretary to UNESCO.


T. Fateh