Ex-Minister and MP Munir al-Ajlani with Syrian historian Sami Moubayed in Beirut on July 1, 1997

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Image Source: Syrianhistory.com Archive

The Sorbonne-educated Munir al-Ajlani served as an MP in the Syrian Parliament in 1932, 1936, 1943, and 1949. In 1941-1943, he was secretary-general of the presidency during the era of his father-in-law, President Taj al-Din al-Hasani. He was also Syria's first and only Minister of Youth Affairs in 1941. He held the portfolios of Justice and Education during the eras of Presidents Shukri al-Quwatli and Hashem al-Atasi. He also was a professor at the Faculty of Law at Damascus University and authored numerous legal books that continue to be mandatory reads in the Syrian curriculum until today. In 1940, he was hired by the Shahbandar family as an attorney during trial of the murders of Abdul Rahman Shahbandar. In 1943, he launched the career of Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani in 1943. In 1956, Ajlani was arrested, along with other Syrian politicians, accused of plotting with Iraq to topple the pro-Nasser government of Prime Minister Sabri al-Asali. Ajlani refused to hire a lawyer and defended himself in Syria's first public political trial, held at the grand auditorium of Damascus University. Ajlani was sentenced to death, and his sentence was then reduced to life imprisonment. He remained in jail until 1961. He was then released where he moved to Lebanon, then Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a consultant to Kings Saud, Faisal, Khaled, and Fahd. He died in Saudi Arabia at the age of 90 in 2004. The interview with Ajlani was published in Moubayed's book, "The Politics of Damascus 1920-1946" in 1998.