Syrian President Bashar al-Assad updates Koran to stop 'distortion' or 'misleading' information

Syria has been involved in a brutal civil war for past four years that shows no signs of abating

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The Independent Online

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ordered the release of a new “revised” version of the Koran in order to correct “distortion” and “misleading” lessons, state television reports.

The president, currently conducting a brutal campaign against his own citizens in a vicious civil conflict, authorised the publication of the “new standard version” of the Islamic holy book.

He announced the change on television with Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed, the Minister of religious endowments (Awqaf), and members of the Ministry's Permanent Committee for the Holy Koran Affairs on Monday.

Official state reports indicate the new version will contain simplified letters standardised by official “accredited standards” set by Koranic scholars.

“We truly need such acts at this critical stage of distortion and misleading,” the President told state media.

The new version will be printed and distributed throughout the now-fractured state.

However, associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Nottingham Dr Jon Hoover cautioned that it was hard to assess how controversial the new version may be without examining it.

"I would have to see this new edition of the Koran to judge its significance. It is impossible to tell what the project has done with the Koran," he told Newsnight.

He also said there was not likely to be “much significance” that Mr Assad, a member of the minority Alawite Syrian community, had been involved in the project.

The president and his father, Hafex Assad, developed close ties with the religious elite, allowing them the upper hand in religious matters - in exchange for political hegemony.  

Meanwhile, President Assad continues to shell his own people. Hundreds of thousands are estimated to have died in the bitter four-year conflict that has fractured the local region and created millions of refugees.

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