Ten million euro plan: “A Hope Throughout Syria”
In his hands is a white plastic model of the Aleppo Minaret, Dr. Radwan Khawatmi reminds himself the nostalgia of childhood games: “I was born a few meters from there. I was a child and always felt like a muezzin. I went to school and stopped to drink the water of mosque. Some warm afternoons, I rested in the shadow of that wall.” Radwan’s memories died on April 24, 2013: “When they destroyed the minaret and most of the mosque, I felt destroyed, too. I’ve been living in Italy for nearly 50 years now. That day, I called His Highness and I said, we have to do something …” That was said, and it was done. His Highness Shah Karim al-Husaini, Aga Khan IV, descendant of the Prophet and spiritual leader of millions of Shi’a Ismailis around the world, an inventor of the Emerald Coasta Smeralda, who has made schools out of the deserted valleys of Afghanistan, will reconstruct Aleppo.
“Priority will be the minaret. Because it is symbolic, in a city of 4 million inhabitants. It is like the dome of St. Peter for Rome. It is like the bell tower of San Marco in Venice: to be remade where it was, how it was.”
[…] “In January,” says Khawatmi, “at our first inspection, I was crying. The designers have told us that it will take four years worth of work only to rebuild the minaret. We have insisted in doing so in two, at whatever cost.” That’s about ten millions. And it will not be like drawing a white plastic model: Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has funded major renovations from Lebanon to India, “but it will be difficult … we agreed with Syrian government and opposition, religious and civil authorities.” We would like to start at the end of the year. Aga Khan has sent to Syria its chief executive, Luis Monreal, to ensure that “we operate everywhere to preserve the cultural heritage and stimulate economic development. We just want life to go back to Aleppo.” Half of the original stones have been recovered. The hobbyists have been hired from India and Pakistan, three engineers (one Italian) working with thirty Syrian colleagues to organize the yard. There is the support of Irene Bokova, General Director of UNESCO, seeking support from Minister Franceschini.
Excerpt translated via Google.