What about Al Aqsa?
Notre Dame and Al Aqsa
The Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and Notre dame cathedral in Paris became the victims of the fire that broke on April 15th 2019 at approximately the same time. Both places suffered immense amount of damage, one more than the other, but both these incidents were captured by the media in a very different manner. One remained the subject of the front page for days on end while the other, was not given as much attention nor did any nation properly express their grief on the matter, the way they showed solidarity with Paris at an international level.
Biased Opinions from global politics
While the media was mourning over the loss of the most part of the roof structure and the spires of the sacred cathedral, the world was kept in the dark about the fate of al aqsa mosque, despite the fact that both these places of god were engulfed by the flames at roughly the same time and both these places are important to people of different faith, then why is it that one was given precedence over the other? Was Al Aqsa not part of the human heritage? Was it not tragic enough? Do we have to compare the extent of damage to a particular place in order to determine the hours of media coverage that it receives? Or do we have a scale to measure the sentiments of grief that both the places received which then determined which story was more trivial? Or was it to do with the fact that maybe one place is more prone to these sort of incidents than the other and it’s more normal for a certain sort of calamity to occur in that place; Its more normal hence it’s okay? Or does it have to do with one place being of more importance to a superpower and the tarnished overall image of the Muslim world that determined this muted response and ineffective action of the UN?
Heritage loss measuring scale
Or does it simply have to do with the scale of the destruction that Notre Dame fell victim to or were the fumes of the fire that engulfed the skies of Paris the reason why everyone realized how bad the situation has gotten? Was it easier for the media to make a story and gain more views on something physically larger and well documented in a city that flourishes on tourism? Why the architectural, preservationist and historian community were shook harder by this incident and the same amount of grief was not expressed for Al Aqsa mosque?
Politics and the third world
The truth of the matter lies in the fact that in today’s era, the overall tarnished image of the Muslim world has created a negative view of Muslim nations for the rest of the world. Muslim nations are in situations of war and the architectural marvels have not been documented and preserved hence they have not had the chance to be explored by the rest of the world as compared to the heritage sites in the west which have had the chance to bring in tourists and get more advertisement and recognition throughout the world. Therefore it is very wrong yet understandable why the Notre dame cathedral received a higher caliber of attention as compared to the Al Aqsa; because it is a place that many people know of and it has become part of the French national Identity
Restoration and renewal efforts
I believe that the fire has added another layer of history to the cathedral and it would be a decision made in haste to completely reconstruct the cathedral in its original form. Even if the cathedral is constructed in its original state even if we’re using the same sort of materials, the craftsmanship would be very different and would seem like an imitation of the original cathedral. Plus it would be very difficult to understand what part is the original building and which part has been reconstructed which will affect the overall monumentality of the building.
Sensitivity while maintaining authenticity
Bearing in mind all of the above arguments, I would want to propose a contemporary intervention to the cathedral just so the old and new can be distinguished easily and in order for the fire to be documented permanently into the history of the future. I’m not talking about a steel and glass structure that is obnoxious to the sentiments attached to the cathedral, Not an offensive sort of alien intervention but maybe the reconstruction of the cathedral in a material that looks similar to the original but differs slightly in physical texture or color or shape. I
am not proposing an out there completely different from the old sort of an intervention but rather one that looks like a part of the cathedral from a distance but as you approach the cathedral, it dawns upon you how the two materials differ and highlight the old and the new. Although the same sort of joinery, the craftsmanship and the method of making the mortar and all will not be the same, but at least we will get the same sort of a form that is instilled in the memories of those who feel some sort of affiliation to the cathedral. I think that this would be the most sensitive and workable approach for the renovation of this great marvel.
© 2019 zohaa qadri