Human Debacle, contd.

Last month, as the world burned in reaction to “The Innocence of Muslims” nonsense, the most interesting response came from activists in Syria. In Kafranbel, where government warplanes had recently reduced to rubble the city’s most revered mosque, residents wondered why there was outsized fury at an asinine youtube video. Oh, such furious displays of piety in the Arab world!—at some internet bullshit!—& yet where among these bold defenders of religion was equal outrage at an Arab tyrant IRL exploding houses of worship?

Keen Kats in Kafranbel highlighting the hypocrisy of anti-youtube protests.

I thought of this protest poster yesterday when I read the devastating news that the 12th century Umayyad Mosque in the Old City of Aleppo had been trashed during skirmishes.

The Grand Umayyad Mosque, October 15. Last week, 500 shops in the adjacent old bazaar—in continual operation since the Middle Ages—were destroyed by fire.

Apparently, government forces had been using the mosque compound as a hideout & military depot for months. In the same article I read the stunning extent to which Syrian cultural heritage has been “collateral damage” of that terrible war.

Five of Syria’s six World Heritage sites have been damaged in the fighting, according to UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural agency. Looters have broken into one of the world’s best-preserved Crusader castles, Crac des Chevaliers, and ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra have been damaged.

So depressing.

So, you know how the Russian government supports the Assad regime because the naval base at Tartus is their sole foothold in region/Mediterranean? I didn’t connect that Tartus is also the home province of our favorite Syrian musician, George Wassouf. Somehow this makes listening to his voice more heavy!

BTW, if you’re looking for another band from former Umayyad lands that can rival Wassouf’s tight/tite-ness, check this jam from Warda (“The Algerian Rose”).

Warda “بتودع حبيبها بليغ

Wait till her band starts jigsaw-prancing around 2:50. And that echo-y tremolo around 3:25 reminds me of cinematic-psychedelia like this dreamy 60s Spanish cut. (Of course, Warda and Wassouf’s outfits are not really “bands”—think more of the orchestra+chanteuse set-up that Edith Piaf would front. [Or, more to the point, that Abdel Halim Hafez would front. <—just look at his crucial orchestra!!!])

If you want something that’ll go straight into yr pop ears, check this stone cold Assyrian fox from the 70s. I discovered Jermain Tamraz through our friend Ghostcapital’s excellent blog. Incredibly, one of the commenter’s to his post was… Tamraz’s nephew! The state-less Assyrian nation (like the Kurdish nation) overlays a broad swath of the region (including Wassouf’s home province in modern-day Syria), but Tamraz’s nephew identified the music’s provenance as Nineveh, Iraq—another cultural treasure imperiled by recent wars.

Or, a brighter number: “Moumita“. Off the same record, Memory Lane. BTW, if you hail from Nineveh it is max hilarious to call your album MEMORY LANE—lol, by the time your city was recorded in the Book of Genesis the fuggin place was several thousand years old!


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