Sunday, March 29, 2020
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In September 2019 on a visit to Damascus, I interviewed Athar, a Syrian woman who has been in her church scout group since she was 15 years old. We chatted in Beit Jabri, a popular restaurant in old Damascus. Athar explained that her scout group meets once a week for band practice and for activities for the children. Also, at their...
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Souk al Hamediyya is one of Damascus’s most famous landmarks. Throughout the war it has never stopped being the centre of trade and shopping in Syria’s capital. All walks of Syrian life congregate here, and have done so since Roman times. The souk starts at the centre of the modern city and ends at an intact Roman arch and...
    Abandoned But Not Forgotten: Ancient Grand Churches and The Dead Cities of Syria By Jack Bettar Spread across fertile mountains, between olive and pistachio groves, and across windswept limestone hills, sits an assortment of ancient ruins, some mysterious, but all precious not just to Syria’s history but to the history of humankind in general. In the Aleppo and Idlib governorates (provinces), there...

Sanctioning Syria

This article was first published by Monthly Review Online, 10 January 2020 Sanctioning Syria By Chris Ray The United Nations was willing to pay for doors, windows and electrical wiring in Alaa Dahood’s apartment but not for repairs to her living room wall torn open by a mortar strike. That was deemed to be ‘reconstruction’—an aid category forbidden in Syria. “My mother...
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 'Syrian School' (Part 3)  'Being Inspired' Syrian School Episode 3 of 5 Five-part series following a year in the life of four schools in Damascus, a high pressure crossroads in the Middle East. It concentrates on some remarkable characters finding their way in a country that has never before opened ordinary life up to the cameras in this way, challenges the usual cliches of...
First published in Atlas Obscura, Dec 10, 2019 In 2013, the mosque’s minaret shattered into 2,000 pieces. A restoration team aims to put them back together. BY CHRIS RAY DECEMBER 10, 2019 On a bright spring day in April 2013, the minaret of one of the world’s most famous mosques came crashing to earth in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The sound...
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Rasha Milhem In September 2019, on behalf of ‘Beloved Syria’, I interviewed Ms Rasha Milhem, a Syrian translator, news writer, and filmmaker. Rasha has worked for SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency), the Syrian equivalent of the ABC, since 2009. I found her to be eloquent, deep-thinking and passionate.   Having studied English Literature, Rasha is keenly interested in the arts and...
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Foul, or ful, is traditionally eaten for breakfast (or sometimes supper*) in Syria. The main ingredient is broad (fava) beans. Delicious and healthy, there are quite a few variations of foul, and they include vegan or dairy, depending on whether you choose to add yoghurt or not. The two variations of foul dishes seen in this video were prepared by a Syrian...
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Dar Al Salam School, a private school in central Damascus, has a co-educational primary school section and a girls high school. Its principal and the majority of its staff are women. I heard from a friend whose niece attended the school that it has a very good reputation. I visited the school on 23 September 2019 to meet Nisreen, or 'Teacher...
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This video interview with Professor Maamoun Abdulkarim took place in a Damascus cafe on 22 September 2019. It wasn't the best environment to discuss a serious subject, and I had no external microphone for my mobile phone, but we made do. Susan Dirgham (For a transcript of the interview, please go to the bottom of this page.*)    During the worst years of...