Bahnan, a businessman, aged 59, now living in Al-Qamishli, Syria

Al-Nofara Café, Old City, Damascus, 2009. Photo by Susan Dirgham

Syria is a secular country. Can you explain what this means to a non-Syrian?

If anyone visited Syria, they could see with their own eyes the freedom of belief, the different nationalities, the respect for everyone and the equality of men and women in all fields of life.

What does the concept of personal freedom mean to you?

Personal freedom means respecting others regardless of their religion, nationality, ethnicity, or their intellectual and social level.

Have you experienced anything since the start of the crisis you would like to recount?

I have seen how people were slaughtered for personal grudges, and so helping the plot to go on.

“The ‘Arab Spring’ has been an autumn that harvests humans.”

What can fill you with despair?

Despair can fill the hearts of people when they see the domination of the tribal society on the elections, when quantity is chosen over quality.

What can give you hope?

What gives me hope is that the people accept the necessities and most simple things.

How do you find the courage to go on and stay sane in the face of great hardship and pain?

I find courage by doing only the most necessary things to live. And thinking about immigration gave me the strength to go on. But, honestly, losing safety and security have had their effect on shaking my faith.

Can you talk about the freedoms women have enjoyed in Syria?

Women have freedom in all fields of life: political, economic, military and social fields, including work.

How can political problems, such as corruption and nepotism, best be tackled?

Political problems can best be tackled by resurrection and rebirth and followed up with the application of gods and angels.

What is your image of a new Syria?

A new Syria for me will see the disappearance of hatred and the failure of the plot to destroy it. Syria will remain on its feet. It will be different, and slowly it will be rebuilt because of its fearless people, and many of those who left will turn back to their homes.


From ‘Beloved Syria – Considering Syrian Perspectives’, Sept – Oct 2016 Edition

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