A rose for hope

Syrian conflict’s devastation of the Damask rose industry is a symbol for what is at stake

Will Syria's iconic Damask roses become another victim of the conflict? Louai Beshara / AFP
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Given the relentless tide of human misery caused by the Syrian conflict, what weight should be placed on reports that the country's damask rose might become collateral damage in the war? How do you compare a rose that graces a Shakespeare sonnet to the hundreds of thousands killed, millions displaced and the lost generation missing out on education?

But to a world demonstrating compassion fatigue after five years of bloodshed, tragedy and suffering, our story about the war devastating the once-thriving rose industry outside Damascus provided a fresh perspective. Like coverage of ISIL’s bombing of Palmyra, this was not an odious assessment of the respective worth of ancient monuments and human misery.

After even worse carnage during the First World War, the poppy emerged as a symbol for remembrance. Should the damask rose play a similar role for Syria’s conflict, humanising an issue that is so relentlessly horrific that many have stopped watching?