Sunday, July 29, 2012
Thinking Of Aleppo And Syria (And The World's Oldest Insane Asylum Where Bashir al-Assad Should Be Locked Up Now)
About nine years ago I was in Syria's second biggest city, Aleppo.
It's a charming place - a huge Arab metropolis with one of the most stupendous suqs (bazars) in the world, parts of it underground. Aleppo also has a fantastic citadel, Qal'at Halab and the world's oldest insane asylum from the 14th Century.
Back then the mental patients were treated to music and poetry instead of strait jackets. This would be a good place to put Syria's dictator, Bashar al-Assad who doesn't seem to understand that his time is up. Don't kill him though. Just tie him to an uncomfortable chair for a century or two, and let him listen to Rumi and some Sufi music to clear his murderous mind.
By the way, visiting Bimaristan Arghan, the insane asylum, inspired a Danish novel of mine, Skorpionens hale (Scorpio\s tale) that came out in 2008, so for many reasons the city is a fond memory.
Unfortunately, Aleppo is the center of the Syrian civil war right now. Hundreds have died during the first days of fighting there, and more than 200,000 are fleeing the city.
We're thinking and praying for you, Aleppo.
Syria is a beautiful country with lots of warm people and a long history of religious tolerance. I hope the Syrians will come out of the storm soon and not let any kind of fundamentalism take over.
This great country with its rich history deserves all the best. Inshallah.