Thursday, July 9, 2020
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This interview with Mahdi Al Mahdi took place on 24 September 2019, my last evening in Damascus before I flew out of Syria on my return trip to Australia.  I just chanced upon the ‘White and Black Quartet’ when I sat outside my hotel to chat with friends. It was a ‘magic moment’ for me.   https://youtu.be/oYcsQFdU9-g Here, 'White and Black Quartet'...
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I was in Damascus for just over a week, and in a taxi with Athar and Rana on our way to the old city. First for a stroll in the Souq Al-Hamidiyah and then onto Beit Jabri for a juice and maybe lunch. It's September 2019. Life has its burdens for the locals, no doubt, but they can still smile....
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In his 1988 LA Times article below, journalist and columnist Charles Wallace captured beautifully Syrians' love for the game of backgammon; the magic of it. (However, in 2020, it should be noted that today if Syrian women don't enter a cafe, it is because they choose not to, not because they dare not.) This game of backgammon in Beit Jabri was...
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Faia and Rihan Younan were born in the village of Al-Malikiyah, Syria, and grew up in the city of Aleppo. They moved to Sweden with their parents when Faia was 11 years old. Faia studied at Glasgow University and she moved to Beirut when she decided to become a professional singer.  'To Our Countries' has had nearly 7 million views. In August 2015,...
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  'Beloved Syria - Considering Syrian Perspectives', First Edition, Spring 2016, page 25 The Challenge - Responding to this 21st Century War This magazine aims to present the perspectives of Syrians who have experience of war in their country and who wish Syria to remain united and secular. Few deny that there is a proxy war being fought in Syria. Pope Francis has...
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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

Written by Chris Ray, 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...
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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...
From 'Beloved Syria', Second Edition, 2017 In 2009, Bruce Petty – a political satirist, cartoonist and filmmaker - included Damascus on his list of cities to visit for a documentary film project, a follow-up to his 2007 film Global Haywire, for which Bruce won the AFI Best Documentary Director prize. I had met Bruce at the Melbourne Writers Festival the...
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An RT Documentary, this video was first posted in February 2019, when people living in most Syrian cities and towns could breathe a lot easier, and had cause to look forward to peace. 'Syrian Tango' features a sculptor, Tango dancers, a documentary film maker, and a composer/musician. In giving a voice to these artists, the documentary presents Syrian people at...