Magazine article New Internationalist

Syria - the Good Guys

Magazine article New Internationalist

Syria - the Good Guys

Article excerpt

Before the war, the best way to enjoy Syria was in complete ignorance. That's what I did in 2005, when I arrived in Damascus as a tourist. For two weeks I explored the country's Roman ruins and medieval markets, enthusing about the sophistication of the food and the friendliness of the people. Syria, as my guidebook put it, was 'the Middle East's best kept secret'.

It was not until the following year, when I returned to Damascus to live, that I started to see that Syria had secrets of its own. Buildings from which Syrians averted their eyes. Jails from which no one emerged. To walk these streets, as writer Rana Kabbani has said, was 'to walk on pavements that were the ceilings of basements where political prisoners hung upside down by their feet'.

As my naïveté diminished, so my admiration for the Syrian people increased. After they rebelled against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in 2011, I followed their progress closely through the blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds where activists debate the revolution, the war, and the ongoing struggle to build a better Syria. …

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