Middle East

Armed vandals behead statue of 10th-century Arab poet

Syrian supporters of the Al-Nusra group wave flags as they march during an anti-regime demonstration, after the weekly Friday prayers, in the Bustan al-Qasr district of the northern city of Aleppo on February 8, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/AAMIR QURESHI)

BEIRUT: Unidentified members of an armed group in northern Syria have cut off the head of a statue honoring Abbasid-era poet Abu al-Alaa al-Maari, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday.

“An armed group in the [rebel-held] town of Maaret al-Numan have cut off the head of a sculpture honoring the memory of poet and philosopher Abu al-Alaa al-Maari, who was born in the town,” the Observatory said.

It was not clear who the vandals were, but Syrian activists from the town accused Nusra Front Islamist extremists for the act, and distributed a photograph of the ruined sculpture, which was also riddled with bullets.

Rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad overran Maaret al-Numan, which is located in northwestern Syria, in October last year.

Abu al-Alaa al-Maari, who was born Ahmad bin Abdullah bin Suleiman in Maaret al-Numan in 973 A.D., rose to become one of the greatest Arab poets known for his criticism of Islam and other religions.

In one of his best known works, he wrote: “There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have a mind and no religion, and those who have religion but no mind.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 13, 2013, on page 8.




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