Wednesday, April 1, 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...

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...
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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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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...
In September 2019, I dropped in on an old friend, Elaine Imady, author of 'Road to Damascus'. Elaine is an American Syrian who first went to live in Damascus around six decades ago with her Syrian husband, Mohammed, whom she'd met at New York University. Theirs was a true love story. In 2010,  Elaine wrote for 'Syria Comment'  Since last Sunday, March...
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SUMMARY OF INTERVIEW: In what ways do sanctions impact on women and their families?  Dr Bouthaina explains that the sanctions against Syria are unilateral measures taken by the United States without UN approval or Security Council resolutions. “They were measures which were forced by the United States on Syria and forced on other countries to abide by….against any international law, any...
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In 1992, The Washington Post published a favourable review of Dr Bouthaina Shaaban’s book, ‘Both Right and Left Handed; Arab Women Talk About Their Lives’ (first published in 1988). Dr Bouthaina was born in the 1950s and grew up in a village in countryside Homs. When the Washington Post review was published, she had a PhD in English Literature from...
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October 2019 In Syrian cities and towns, it is normal for primary school students to attend a co-educational school and then for students to be streamed into single-sex secondary schools. (This isn't possible in many small regional schools, so high school students in the countryside often attend mixed classes.) Universities generally have mixed classes. Last month, on my visit to Dar...
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https://youtu.be/BKj-X5PuFdU Interview with 16-year-old twins, Sarah and Maya Sarah and Maya Ghassali are 16-year-old twins who migrated from Syria during the civil war in 2012 Melbourne, Australia. They are passionate about helping refugees and in doing so have started their own podcast 'Refugees on air' where they interview refugees about their inspiring stories. Everyday they aim to make positive changes in...