Sorry Abu Al Ala

In Revolution, There's Little Time to Mourn

By Elie Chalala
Sculptor Fathi Mohammad and Abu Al Ala Maari

A jihadist group launched an "operation" against the statue of the philosopher and poet Abul Ala al-Maari (973-1057) in Maarat al-Nouman, a city in northern Syria. The beheading of the statue, built to honor a 10th century poet known for his rationalism and anti-religious rhetoric, has provoked the ire of more intellectuals than the beheadings of thousands of Syrian civilians. While the complaints are mostly justified, the dismay of some at the single lifeless "beheading" raises questions about the intellectual  commitment to the freedom of speech and religion. Not only have some intellectuals gone silent in the face of massacres and Scud missile attacks, they have adopted the hypocritical stance of maligning religious movements but never the “secular” regime, which silenced the opposition for half of a century and made mosques the only safe haven for protest.

Among the many reactions to this hypocrisy is a comment from the Syrian poet and documentary filmmaker Hala Mohammad posted on her Facebook:

"In Marat al-Nouman, you are welcomed by a city of ruins weeping at the loss of a thousand of its children forever...and over another hundred thousand displaced for an indefinite period of time! It is right here in Maraat al-Nouman...where the human tragedy witnessed leaves no room for mourning an effigy, even if it was of Abu Ala. When you are on Facebook you feel the truth quite remote..., but in Al Marat you become certain and without shred of doubt…that there isn't the slightest evidence of a revolution outside this country!" (This is an edited translation).

Speaking of the life-sized bronze statues, the Abu Ala chorus also weeps for the toppled statue of Hafez al-Assad in al-Raqqa. Unable to openly mourn the former autocrat who obliterated close to 30,000 people in Hama, to say nothing of his many other atrocities, they instead condemn the close-mindedness of the Syrian rebels, thus comparing this alleged "rigidity" to  that of the bronze or marble out of which Hafez al-Assad's statue is made!

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