On Minarets and Spires
That I agree or disagree with the Swiss' vote to stop the building of minarets in their country is beyond the point of this article. My opinion, pure and simple, is that it is their business and their business alone. Had I been living in a democratic country where referenda of such nature are held I would probably vote against the construction of many architecturally and functionally out of place structures, including but not limited to bars and brothels near houses of worship, for instance, and vice versa. I see no point in crying foul play when the logic behind the reasoning of those who disagree relies on another form of intolerance. When a fellow Muslim openly condemns Saudi Arabia for banning the construction of churches on her scourged piece of desert he or she might possess the minimum legitimacy to discuss and criticize the Swiss vote. Until then, however, they should keep looking the other way as they have been doing all along.
It is indeed ironic that an increasing number of Syrians consider the emergence of the new religious and conservative propensity in our society as a resurrection of old and cherished values while we deny the Swiss their right to be xenophobic. Monotheist religions in Syria are certainly part of her recent history but do not constitute founding elements of her ancient civilizations or her varied cultures. How can we, Syrians, trace our heritage, values and history to 1,400 years past and arbitrarily stop. Archeological evidence suggests that Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, predates Judaism by some 7,000 years, Christianity by 9,000 years and Islam by roughly 9,600 years. How can we selectively choose to obliterate 87% of our known past and reduce our identity to one usurping trend within a singular faith? The first fermented beverages were discovered in this land, the earliest beer and the primeval wines. We hatched passionate gods, literary epics and love stories while most of humanity was barely afloat in a sea of ignorance. We invented the Alphabet. The 4,250 years old literature of Ebla predates Genesis and subsequent accounts of creation by long centuries. Unlike early claims by “Christian” scientists that the cuneiform tablets found there uphold the authenticity of biblical history, the people of Ebla “authored” almost all of the stories thought to be of divine origin. In one of the rarest occasions of modern times the authorities of Judaism, Christianity and Islam agreed on one common goal, that of stifling the findings of Ebla. They collectively marginalized the significance then obstructed making it common knowledge that the Story of Adam and Eve as it exactly reappeared more than 1,500 years later, was written by an Eblaite playwright, no more no less.