Syrian Update

Progress is being made in Belfast and, the pending election notwithstanding, also in Dublin and the West of Ireland with a number of women and other groups coming on board. The considerable practical experience groups like CAIN, the various conflict studies centres, ecumenics centres and the human rights centres have accumulated over the last very many years will be of good practical benefit, over both the shorter and longer terms.

Dr Ahmad al Khaddour is here http://tinyurl.com/ahmadsyria with fellow cardiologist Mr Joel Dunning giving a very informative albeit rather technical interview and, 13 minutes into this next video http://tinyurl.com/syria-ahmad, he gives a less technical but equally informative one to George Galloway and Putri Gayatri Pertiwi. In the former interview, Mr Khaddour urges his fellow-surgeons to take the road to Damascus. “The Lawless Roads” must be trod by at least some of us if peace is ever to return to Syria. The delegation will be urging academic, political, medical, religious and community leaders to take that most famous of roads with us in December.

Prof. Seham al-Danon, who is a leading member of Syria’s Druze community, is the deputy dean of the Faculty of Arts at Damascus University, where she is also Professor of Regional Geography. Prof. al-Danon was very seriously injured in a targeted rebel assassination attempt in June 2013, which necessitated both of her legs to be amputated. Though not nearly as badly affected as Aleppo or Homs Universities, Damascus University nevertheless has had 60 students, 5 lecturers and 15 employees murdered as well as a further 200, including Prof al-Danon, very seriously injured. Prof. Al-Danon continues both with her academic administrative duties and still writes and speaks on the role of culture in combatting extremism and in building peace and reconciliation.

Prof. Maria Saadeh’s professional page http://tinyurl.com/MariaSaadeh makes plain she is the type of urbane high achiever we would all like to have in our Parliaments. Yet the rebels revile representative Syrians like her and Prof Danon, from their dress to their independence as modern women and their determination to shape the modern world rather than be literally shackled to a kitchen stove.

Prof. Khaled al Assaad, age 82, former Director of Antiquities & Museums for UNESCO’s jewel of Palmyra, author of over 20 scholarly tomes on Palmyra and honoured by numerous European academic societies, has now joined Syria’s long list of martyrs http://tinyurl.com/nwq3qv4.

Joseph Louis Lagrange, along with Euler, the greatest mathematician of the eighteenth century, lamented Laurent de Lavoisier’s murder with these words “It took them only an instant to cut off that head, but France (Syria in Prof Assaad’s case) may not produce another like it in a century.”

All Saints’ Day in Ireland: Our plans for 1 November include a major link-up to Syria where good people like Prof. Assaad continue to be martyred every day of the year. The pastoral needs of relevant minority religions on the island of Ireland, most of whom are based near Waterford, will also be accommodated then.

Lord Molyneaux at Belsen: was mentioned in the last email. Please click these links http://tinyurl.com/nqtzrca & http://tinyurl.com/c49hd4m, especially the second one of his account of the Catholic Mass he attended at Belsen. It is probably the most harrowing thing you will ever read in your life. Syria is not dissimilar. However, as he said regarding that Tridentine Mass, good eventually triumphs. But it will only triumph if people bite the bullet, stand up for what they profess and not leave it all to octogenarians like the late Prof. al Assaad and his good friend, Patriarch Gregorios Laham, who will be with us all in late October.