Articles tagged with: Syria
I had to return to Syria. Assad’s aircrafts were bombing bakeries, villages and farms. They bombarded civilians with explosives and sent a rain of poison down. In July last year I went back to the north, to the village of Banash, near Idlib. It was here that I saw the real Syria for the first time. The assault was continuous. Snipers were dotted throughout the rebel-controlled areas and Free Syrian Army checkpoints were all along the roads. There was scarcely any sign of extremist Islamists. In towns such as Saraqeb, the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish and Muthafar al‑Nawab and songs of love and struggle spread through the streets. The notion of a civil state dominated. The economic situation had deteriorated but was still bearable and sectarian tensions were not high. I travelled between the villages of the liberated north, hearing stories of death and heroism. I had conversations with various factions of the FSA, who spoke of a civil state even though many of them were Islamists.
The Syrian writer and journalist Samar Yazbek will be receiving the Oxfam Novib / PEN Award on Thursday, January 17. Samar Yazbek was witness to brutal violence against demonstrating citizens in her country. She wrote about it, then received serious threats and finally had to flee the country with her daughter.
The Oxfam Novib / PEN Award is presented annually to writers and journalists who are being persecuted for their work, or have had to flee.
In both the book and in life, Ms. Yazbek, a novelist, oscillates between embracing the Alawite label and rejecting it, loath to paint the uprising in sectarian colors. It is a common sentiment among the limited number of Alawites who have publicly joined the revolution.
“I had never cared whether I was an Alawite or not,” she said, speaking in Arabic over coffee in a Midtown Manhattan hotel. “It was like someone saying you had blue eyes.”
SvD interviews Samar Yazbek
Published on November 19th, 2012
Photo credit: Dan Hansson
As soon as the Syrian uprising erupted against the Assad regime in March 2011, Samar Yazbek travel around the country to describe the regime’s brutality and listen to people who have suffered sieges, bombing and shelling during the mass demonstrations against the dictatorship that ruled for 40 years. She, who previously made a name for herself for having violated social taboos in her novels, now became an active witness to the Syrians rebelled against the Assad regime.
Samar Yazbek is alawit …
Samar Yazbek, author of the literary account “In the crossfire”, will be awarded the PEN Tucholsky prize in Stockholm on November 15th.
Since 1985, the Swedish PEN Tucholsky Prize is awarded to writers who made special efforts for freedom of speech. It has over the years been awarded, among others, to Salman Rushdie, Bei Dao and Nuruddin Farrah.
While the story is ostensibly a domestic one about the narrator and her wealthy household of aunts who must choose between a life of self-denying spinsterhood or rebellious marriage, at its core it is about violence: the religiously motivated violence of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the counter-violence inflicted by a secular government. The two forces are locked into a mutual cycle of hatred, each atrocity sparking the next.