Syrian Official Honored for Work Protecting Antiquities

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Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s director general of antiquities and museums, has been awarded a new prize established to reward the protection of endangered cultural heritage sites.

Mr. Abdulkarim has been among those leading efforts to protectSyria’s antiquities and other ancient heritage sites, scores of which have been the target of looters, damaged by fighting between government and opposition forces or destroyed by militant groups such as Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

The award, the Cultural Heritage Rescue Prize, was established by Francesco Rutelli, of Italy’s Associazione Priorità Cultura and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, to reward “the courage and determination of those fighting to preserve culture as universal heritage,” according to the organizers, who decided to give the inaugural award to a person or organization involved in the Syrian conflict.

The prize was necessary, Mr. Rutelli said, to draw attention to a “resurgent barbarian attitude” by those destroying ancient monuments.

It was judged by a nine-member, international jury, including Bonnie Burnham, president of the World Monuments Fund, and Catherine Anne Robert-Hauglustaine, director-general of the International Council of Museums.

Professor Abdulkarim, a former academic, will receive the award in Venice on Saturday. It includes a cash prize of Euros 10,000.

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