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Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson (Paris, July 31, 2014)

Published on July 31, 2014
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2014 monthly review

News from the Cultural Network – Saudi Arabia – French archeologists discover the most ancient inscription in the Arabic alphabet
Gaza

News from the Cultural Network – Saudi Arabia – French archeologists discover the most ancient inscription in the Arabic alphabet

Financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, the French-Saudi team of archeologists in Najran has made a major scientific discovery during its latest round of fieldwork. About 100 kilometers north of Najran, Saudi Arabia, near the Yemeni border, the epigrapher Frédéric Imbert, a professor at the University of Aix-Marseille, unearthed what might be considered the oldest inscription in the Arabic alphabet.

The first thing that makes this find significant is that it is a mixed text known as Nabatean Arabic, the first stage of Arabic writing. Previously, this script had only ever been seen north of Hejaz, in the Sinai and in the Levant.

The second thing is that these inscriptions are dated. The period indicated corresponds to the years 469-470 AD. This is the oldest form of Arabic writing known to date, the “missing link” between Nabatean and Arabic writing.

This discovery, which is important to the history of the Arabian peninsula and language, represents a success for the network of archeological missions funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development—148 projects this year in more than 60 countries worldwide. It is also an excellent example of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and France.

Gaza

Q - Yesterday France twice condemned the attack on the UN school in Jabalia, without mentioning who was responsible. The UN representative on the ground said that the missiles were fired by Israeli armed forces. Can we conclude today that they did indeed come from Israel? Do you support the UN’s thesis and if so, should there be an international investigation and are sanctions required? In addition, should this attack and a previous one be considered war crimes, along with the targeting of civilians, hospitals, mosques, electrical and many other types of infrastructure, and the fact that 80 percent of those killed in Gaza are civilians, and 20 percent of them are children?

Yesterday the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development condemned the shelling of a UN school in the Jabalia camp in the Gaza Strip that killed at least 16 Palestinians.

France joins the UN Secretary-General in calling this event “unjustifiable,” and in considering that it “demands accountability and justice.”

France demands the establishment of an immediate cease-fire. All efforts must focus on this goal.

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