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Saladin and Syrian actor Abbas al-Noury’s criticism

Syrian actor Abbas al-Noury did not say anything new when he criticized the medieval sultan of Egypt and Syria Saladin, who is of Kurdish ethnicity.

Several groups of people such as orientalists and those who are addicted to historical reviews from among Arab intellectuals, and some Shiites who pretend to be intellectuals, have preceded him in such critiques.

First of all, Saladin is a figure like any other, and he can be criticized and his biography can be reviewed.

Saladin’s character is controversial and this is understandable as he is the one who toppled the Fatimid Empire and fought the Crusades.

He had the character of a founder, and his history is based on what happened before him and afterwards – he is the official announcement of the end of Shiite eras in all their branches in the Middle East and he is the one who “officially” dedicated the Sunni identity in Egypt and Syria. This does not mean that the Sunni identity was missing or was a minority.

Myths surrounding Saladin

King Saladin enthrones a rich journey which included Imad ad-Din Zengi, his son Nur ad-Din, and whom Saladin was one of his commanders. Saladin later became king of Egypt, Syria and others.

As we know, actor Abbas al-Noury is a supporter of the Assad regime. He denied any sectarian motives behind attacking Saladin. To be fair, a bunch of Sunni Arab intellectuals have criticized Saladin more harshly than Noury did. An example is Egyptian scholar Youssef Ziedan who described Saladin as the “most despicable” figure in history!

In an interview with the Syrian Al Madina radio station, Abbas said Saladin did not liberate Jerusalem but actually gave it back to the Jews!

He went on to narrate how Saladin moved to Egypt where he eliminated the Fatimids and said that he “separated Fatimid families and separated them into men and women then slaughtered them and burnt them.”

Of course, this is a myth about Saladin and researchers have refuted this narrative citing the fact that many figures from the Fatimid sons continued to live decades after Saladin’s death.

Nouri’s remarks – given his political bias and amid the Syrian civil strife – in this sectarian tone cannot be separated and spontaneously understood even if he’s honest about not having any sectarian motives behind them.

Therefore, it was not strange that Salaheddine Kuftaro, the son of late Syria’s Mufti Ahmed Kuftaro, – who is by the way originally Kurdish – criticized Nouri and said: “Let history, and not you, speak about heroes.”

The famous Syrian actor justified his statements saying he was calling for bravery “in reviewing ourselves if we all aim to build a future that is distinguished with more knowledge and mercy for our children.”

The man is right, but this request must be void of whims, and more importantly it must be a critique and a review of “all” figures and events. It is difficult to understand things spontaneously in this suffocating atmosphere.