Antun Sa’adeh: A defender of the national history of Syria
By Dr. Edmond Melhem
An example of Sa´adeh’s literary criticism is his article entitled “The Statue Committee Insults the Feelings of the Christian and Islamic Worlds”. It is a personal critique of a decision of the Syrian-Brazilian Committee that had chosen from among many entries a poem by Elias Farhat as an epigram to be inscribed on a statue presented by the Syrian community to Brazil on its hundredth anniversary of independence.
With warm literary style, deep imagination and historical knowledge, coloured with national patriotic sentiments, Sa´adeh posited himself as a defender of Syria’s ancient artifacts and glories, such as the precious ruins of Ba´albak and Tadmor, the great historical monuments of Lebanon, and the graves of Saladdin and Jesus Christ, which the committee wanted to uproot them and sacrifice them to Brazil.
He criticized the Committee for “wanting to get rid of every remnant and monument to the glory of Syria to grant them all to Brazil.” He regarded Farhat’s poetic sacrifice of the precious ruins of Syria as an insult not only to Muslims and Christians, but also to the souls of those giants who built these glories and immortalized the name of Syria in history.
With his intellectual qualities and comprehensive knowledge of the national history of Syria, Sa´adeh succeeded to demonstrate that Farhat’s poem was humiliating to Syria’s past glory. His article resulted in the overturn of the committee’s decision.