Coronavirus kills businessman uncle of Syria’s Assad

Coronavirus kills businessman uncle of Syria’s Assad
Syrian President Bashar Assad. (File/AFP)
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Updated 12 September 2020

Coronavirus kills businessman uncle of Syria’s Assad

Coronavirus kills businessman uncle of Syria’s Assad
  • Makhlouf, 88, the maternal uncle of Assad, was once seen as a pillar of the regime of Hafez Assad, the late father of the current president
  • Makhlouf, one of the most prominent Syrian businessmen during the 1970s and 1980s, was taken to hospital in the capital Damascus on August 23

DAMASCUS: Syrian businessman Mohamad Makhlouf, uncle of President Bashar Assad and father of top tycoon Rami Makhlouf, died on Saturday from Covid-19, two sources close to his family told AFP.
Makhlouf, 88, the maternal uncle of Assad, was once seen as a pillar of the regime of Hafez Assad, the late father of the current president.
His grandson, also called Mohamad Makhlouf, mourned his death in a message posted on Instagram.
Makhlouf, one of the most prominent Syrian businessmen during the 1970s and 1980s, was taken to hospital in the capital Damascus on August 23, local media reported.
His businesses had already long been handed over to his son Rami, who developed a commercial empire estimated at several billion dollars.
Rami Makhlouf was close to his cousin Assad, but earlier this year they fell out in a power struggle.
Since the start of the pandemic, Syria has officially recorded 3,476 cases of Covid-19, with 150 deaths registered in zones controlled by the Damascus government, according to health ministry figures.
The novel coronavirus has added to the woes of a nation ravaged by civil war since 2011.
More than 380,000 people have died in the conflict.


Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
Bookseller Yaqoub Mohamed Yaqoub, 45, sits by his roadside stall where he has been working for 15 years, in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2021

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
  • Unrest ricocheted beyond North African country, triggering uprisings, crackdowns, civil wars

KHARTOUM: As Sudan’s transitional government shifts the nation from the Islamist rule of ousted strongman Omar Bashir, a new schoolbook has sparked controversy for reproducing Michelangelo’s iconic “Creation of Adam.”
Khartoum’s government has embarked on deeply controversial reforms in a bid to boost its international standing and rescue its ailing economy — but bringing it into a confrontation with those who see changes as anti-Islamic.
The offending picture, in a history textbook for teenagers, has become a flashpoint in the argument. “It is an ugly offense,” said Sudan’s Academy of Islamic Fiqh, the body ruling on Islamic law, which issued an edict banning teaching from the book.
Michelangelo’s fresco, depicting the Biblical story of God reaching out with his hand to give life to Adam, is a flagship piece of 16th century Renaissance art that forms part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in Rome.
“The book glorifies Western culture in a way that makes it the culture of science and civilization — in contrast to its presentation of Islamic civilization,” the Fiqh academy added.

BACKGROUND

In a viral video, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting ‘apostasy’ and ‘heresy.’

Furious Muslim clerics have railed against the book and other changes to the school curriculum.
In one video widely shared on social media, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting “apostasy” and “heresy.”
Another urged followers to “burn the book.”
But others defended the changes, saying they were part of necessary education reforms.
“The picture is not in a religious book,” teacher Qamarya Omar said.
“It is in a history book for the sixth-grade under a section called European Renaissance, which makes it placed in context.”