Thursday, 22 February 2018


In areas of Syria controlled by Daesh, the penalty for speaking to Western media is death by beheading. As a result, much of the media coverage has focused on the political and military dimensions of the conflict. But it is The Raqqa Diaries which provides readers with a rare and powerful insight into the actual lived experience of the conflict, which was only made possible through the courage and conviction demonstrated by the Syrian diarist, Samer. 

His accounts of life in one of the world's most isolated and fear-ridden cities are more harrowing than one could ever imagine (descriptions of barbaric public executions are particularly hard to read.) But while many of the descriptions he provides may feel like a world apart to readers, I think Samer's accounts have helped to bridge a kind of gap between us as the readers and the individual lives he talks about. 

I am so glad I found this book. I could never have hoped to learn so much from a single source about the conflict's impacts upon people's everyday lives. It is a humbling read, for it illustrates that despite feeling like a 'world apart' through geographical distance, we are really not so dissimilar after-all. We share the same hopes and dreams, except many Syrians' hopes and dreams have been robbed from them. The accounts of children being taken out of education were particularly hard for me to read, because I cannot imagine how it must feel to be robbed off something I hold so dearly.  

For Samer, writing is his resistance and his powerful accounts are testament to his bravery. I was deeply affected by what I read and I have new found respect for all of Syria's media activists who have been killed by Daesh and Asaad's tyrannical regime, for daring to expose the frightful world in which they live in. 

As a finishing note, he expresses the growing despair of Syrian people who only wish to rule themselves after years of Assad tyranny and right now, after years of brutal civil war. But in doing so, he questions who will eventually replace ISIS and what Syrian people could possibly put their hope in. 

Syria is not a world apart. I think it's so important to actively attempt to keep up to date with developments in the region, despite dwindling coverage of it within Western media, because the kinds of atrocities which Samer talks about are not a thing of the past. They are part of the never-ending nightmare for Syrian people and we must stand in solidarity with them.

Antonia x 

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