Northern Syria -

The home of Shukri al-Quwatli, the first president of Syria after independence from the French occupation and one of the architects of the union with Egypt in 1958, turned into an institute for teaching foreign languages, which angered a number of residents and intellectuals in the city of Damascus.

Recently, the house, located in the main Bustan neighborhood in the White Bridge area, witnessed maintenance and restoration work, before a sign was raised above the door of the house bearing the name of the institute that provides courses and educational services for foreign languages.

A resident of the neighborhood (who refused to reveal his name) said that workers came to the house a short time ago, and began maintenance and renovation work on the front of the house, scraping the old stone and installing new metal bars on the windows of the house overlooking the street, and pots for plants.

He added, in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, that he and the rest of the people in the neighborhood believed that the government had begun to renovate the former president's house as a kind of honor and attention to his ancient French-style house, but they later discovered the truth.

The resident of the neighborhood pointed out that the house has completely changed from the inside and the start of teaching languages ​​in its rooms, stressing that the white stone sign bearing the name of Shukri al-Quwatli near the door of the house, is the last that remains of it and the only evidence to inform the next generation of the reality of the place.

Al-Quwatli’s house in the White Bridge area in Damascus before the amendments extended to it (communication sites)

anger and criticism

After the news spread among the city’s residents, activists on social media denounced the transformation of al-Quwatli’s house into an institute and the change of its historical features, considering that the house is a historical heritage that must be preserved, especially as it represents an important stage in Syria’s modern history.

Syrian historical researcher Omar Abdel-Ghani said that the measure is not surprising from the regime's government, "which has spared no effort to desecrate Syria's history and landmarks by bombing archaeological sites and markets in the cities of Aleppo, Homs and Daraa with barrel bombs, and indifference to the results."

Abdel-Ghani said in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net that "the government of the regime and behind it the ruling Baath party are haunted by the spirit of exclusion and rejection of the other, since he took power in Syria in 1963 during the coup of what the Syrian regime calls the revolution of the eighth of March."

Abdel-Ghani believes that democratic countries honor and honor their historical leaders by honoring and invoking their past, despite any previous political differences, which is absent in countries ruled by dictatorial regimes.

The rooms of the French-style house were transformed into language classes (Al-Jazeera)

Al-Quwatli's birth

Shukri al-Quwatli was born on October 21, 1891, in the Shaghour neighborhood, one of the old neighborhoods of Damascus, to a family of merchants and landowners that migrated from Iraq to Syria six centuries ago.

Al-Quwatli grew up loving the Arabic language, and after obtaining his primary certificate, he joined Anbar High School in Damascus, where he completed his secondary studies, and then participated in a competition for the Shahan College in Istanbul, which was described at the time as the most prestigious school for political and administrative sciences in the Ottoman Empire, and was ranked fifth. Among the 350 successful students, he joined the Shahan College in 1908.

Al-Quwatli joined the secret “Arab Girl” association banned by the Ottoman Empire, which was founded in 1911 in Paris. 1916.

Al-Quwatli established the "Istiqlal Party" in Syria. It was the first party in the new era that took on the responsibility of educating the people and preparing them for the struggle against the French colonialists who occupied Syria in 1920 after the Turks left.

Al-Quwatli (right) received the title of the first Arab citizen from Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser after his abdication of power in favor of Unity (communication sites)

The first Arab citizen

Al-Quwatli assumed the Ministry of Defense in 1936, and the presidency of the republic for two terms, the first between 1943 and 1949, to be the first president of Syria after independence from France, and this period ended with the first military coup in the Arab world led by officer Husni al-Zaim, who sent Quwatli to prison.

After his release from prison, Al-Quwatli traveled to Egypt, before returning as President of Syria for the second time, with a secret ballot for the House of Representatives, in which he obtained two-thirds of the votes, to rule between 1955 and 1958, when he abdicated the rule to the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to achieve unity with Egypt, to obtain from the President Unity State later on the title of the first Arab citizen.

Al-Quwatli died on June 30, 1967 in the city of Beirut, to which he had moved after the Baath coup in 1963, after his money had been confiscated. He was buried in Bab Al-Sagheer Cemetery in Damascus, without an official funeral.