Even Statues Beheaded in Syria?!!

The Takfiri mentality of the armed terrorist groups in Syria was not satisfied with killing innocent people. Barbarism also targeted the cultural heritage and symbols of enlightenment and civilization of which the country has over ages been proud.

In a recent, but very dangerous development, the statue of great Arab philosopher poet Abu al-Alaa al-Ma’arri (973-1058) was beheaded by Jabhet al-Noura terrorists in the poet’s hometown Ma’arret al-Nouman in Idelb, northern Syria. This act of vandalism was carried out under the pretext that al-Ma’arri was a kafir and a libertine. The statue, which was also riddled with bullets, is located at the town’s cultural center which was built around the tomb of the blind poet.

Days later, the head of the statue of prominent Arab blind writer Taha Hussein was also cut off in Egypt, the scene of bloody clashes between the extremist government of President Mohammad Mursi and the Egyptians who reject the way he rules the country. It isn’t by coincidence that these two statues have been vandalized almost at the same time, because both groups of vandals share the same regressive dark mentality which fights enlightenment and free thinking.

The question is from whom those vandals are taking revenge? Is it from knowledge, history or culture? I wonder why al-Ma’arri, the prominent Abbasid-era figure, is still causing troubles to those narrow-minded extremists. Besides, could one tell me what the head of an Arab philosopher’s statue has to do with the ongoing events in Syria?

Those calling themselves “jihadists”, who committed this heinous crime, thought that by cutting off living or stone heads they can prevent people to think freely. They are absolutely wrong, because, attacking the statue can’t harm the immortal place this great Arab philosopher, poet and philanthropist has in the world.

Moreover, despite the fact that al-Ma’arri, who lost his sight at 4 because of smallpox, was a reclusive person and skeptical in his beliefs, he was a free thinker and no one dared to attack him as he has been one of the icons of Arab cultural and intellectual heritage. But foreign-backed Takfiri groups had a different view that pushed them to harvest the head of his statue instead of studying what he had written.

 The statue of al-Ma’arri was built to honor the memory of a great cultural figure of which millions of Syrians are proud. One wonders how much weakness and hatred those vandals do carry in their hearts to Syria and its history. However, I want to tell the Syrians, involved in such crimes: Wake up! You are leading your homeland towards hell. You are erasing your history. Do you think that the Western, regional and Gulf countries, which are now backing you, do care about your lives? Be sure that by the time you lose the battle in Syria, you will soon find yourselves alone facing your fate without any more foreign help.

This heartbreaking act of cultural vandalism has angered millions of Syrians nationwide. Many Syrians expressed their condemnation of the act by stressing that the war against the government doesn’t give justification for anyone to destroy the cultural heritage of the country.

“Your barbarity will not destroy the philosophy of al-Ma’arri. It lives and you go. Ideas don’t go,” a facebook post said.

No doubt, despite all vandalism crimes, history will continue to commemorate the works of al-Ma’arri, the writer of "Risalat al-Ghufran" (Message of Forgiveness) which inspired Dante's Divine Comedy,  and those of Taha Hussein, the Dean of Contemporary Arab Literature and a pioneer of enlightenment. Only those vandals will go to the dustbin of history.

H. Mustafa

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