Treasures from our museums and ancient cities in Syria are being looted and destroyed, falling victim to the war's blind aggression. My former archeology students are working diligently and risking their lives to protect our country’s cultural heritage.
It’s important that our heritage is preserved, not only for its intrinsic beauty and historical value, but also because it helps us reconstruct Syrian identity. Now, the market for stolen artefacts is in the millions, but one important thing can make a difference.
The UN must ban the trade in Syrian artefacts.
So far they have ignored numerous calls to push through a resolution as they did in the past to protect Iraq’s heritage, but there’s something much larger at stake now that should get them to act. Looting Syria’s history is big business and the extremist group known as ISIS have added millions of dollars to their war chest because of it.
Syrians are now not only watching their history being torn down and sold to foreign buyers, but they’re having that money turned against them in the form of more weapons.
-- Dr. Amr Al-Azm
Associate Professor of Middle East History, Shawnee University
Professor at the University of Damascus (1998-2006)
Director of Science and Conservation Laboratories at the General Department of Antiquities and Museums in Syria (1999-2004)