Robin Yassin-Kassab

Burning the Mosques

with 3 comments

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.

Here’s five minutes excerpted from the ongoing systematic destruction of the mosque.

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

June 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Sectarianism, Syria

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3 Responses

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  1. The rebels have repeatedly attacked Shia mosques in various parts of Syria, and already desecrated the grave of a historical figure revered by Shia. They do these things deliberately, and completely out of sectarian hatred. The many youtube videos more than clarify this. While burning Shia mosques, they yell “Allahu Akbar” in such a proud manner that you’d think they were Saladin liberating Palestine.

    While the destruction of many mosques and religious symbols that you mention during the fighting is a tragic loss, it is extremely dishonest to act as if such destruction is sectarian, when in reality it is simply a matter of fighters on both sides placing more value in their military battles than in the preservation of Syrian history. There is no indication that such places have systematically been attacked for being “Sunni” or whatever.

    Atlas Turns

    July 9, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    • two points:
      1 the resistance is that of a popular revolution, inevitably undisciplined and disorganised. criminal attacks on shia and alawi places of worship have indeed happened, and have been condemned by the free syrian army under saleem idriss. On the regime side, however, there is an army with a chain of command. when soldiers bomb a mosque for hours on end they are following orders. alongside the use of sectarian death squads and ethnic cleansing in the homs region, it is clear that exacerbating sectarian hatreds is a matter of policy for the regime.

      2. there is no equality of scale. i believe that the number of holy sites attacked by rogue rebels is less than 10. the regime, on the other hand, has destroyed well over 400 hundred mosques and churches.

      Yet you are outraged by the resistance’s stupidity while giving the benefit of the doubt (absurdly) to the regime’s.

      Robin Yassin-Kassab

      July 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm

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