Syrian Histories 124 Inteviews

Society, politics & culture before 2011

“Syrian Histories” is a collection of video and audio recorded interviews with refugees residing in Lebanon and Jordan that address the culture and society of Syria in the decades preceding 2011.

Collectively, the interviews present a cultural and social narrative of Syria, and offer Syrians the opportunity to contribute to the understanding of their own history.

The interviewees are as diverse as the topics they discuss. Among the women and men, youth and elderly interviewed are professors and illiterates, industrialists and bedouins, single mothers and polygamists, worshippers and atheists, Kurds, Assyrians, Ismailis and Sunnis, to name but a few.

Wahib Al Husseini

Wahib Al Husseini grew up in al-Hasakah Governorate, where he also went to school. He later majored in Fine Arts at Damascus University. After graduating,...

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Ghassan Alhallak

Ghassan Alhallak dropped out of middle school in 1968. He went on to work with his father and brothers in trade since his father decided...

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Ahmad Dhman

Ahmad Dhman was born in 1968 to a poor family living in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in South Damascus. His father died when he...

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Zaradesht Muhammad

Zaradesht Muhammad was born in 1969 in the city of Qamishli, which he describes as the city of peace and coexistence. It is inhabited by...

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Mohamad Malek Daghstani

Mohamad Malek Daghstani is from the village of Deir Ful in the Homs countryside and is of Daghstani origin. He grew up in Jouret al-Shayah...

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Badi Dakhlallah

Badi Dakhlallah remembers fleeing his home in the village of Al-’Al at the age of eight, when the Israelis attacked the Golan in 1967. “My...

Mohammad Abu Hassan

Mohammad Abu Hassan has only ever left Damascus or its surrounding countryside twice: once to visit the city of Tartus and the second time to...

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Najah Owad

Najah Owad is a Syrian-Palestinian. Born in Yarmouk camp just south of Damascus, she is the eldest of nine siblings. Her father had a full...

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Khaled Taame

After working in the United Arab Emirates for a number of years, Khaled Taame came back to Damascus and began working as a sound designer...

Najwa Sufi

Najwa Sufi was born in 1944 in Al-Anazah village located between Banyas and Tartous on the Syrian coast. She moved between several towns and cities due...

Akram Atweh

In 1948, Akram Atweh was an infant when his family left the city of Safad in Palestine to seek refuge in southern Lebanon. Later, they...

Ramzya Sarhan

Ramzya Sarhan was born in 1969 in Damascus, where she spent her childhood. She then moved to Jabal al-Zawiya in Idlib Governorate as her father...

Nour Owais

Nour Owais grew up in Yarmouk, a camp for Palestinian refugees just south of Damascus. She completed both her elementary and middle school education at...

Mohamed Noureldin

Mohamad Noureldin began working at the Military Works branch of the Ministry of Defense in Homs in 1992. His role was assistant to one of...

Ansaf Nasr

Ansaf Nasr grew up in a village in as-Suwayda Governorate. She finished elementary school in the village, then stopped going to school because there were...

Aqeel Ahmad

After graduating from secondary school, Aqeel Ahmad applied to the Faculty of Fine Arts at Damascus University, but he wasn’t accepted. He enrolled at the...

Ahmad Mazhar Sa’du

Ahmad Mazhar Sad'du graduated from secondary school in 1980 and moved out of the city of Jericho located in Idlib's countryside. He then went on...

Maryam Hallak

Maryam Hallak got married at the age of seventeen, then, with her husband’s encouragement and her mother’s assistance with childcare, went on to continue her...

Basima Jabry

Basima Jabri was born in 1975 to a Damascene father and a Lattakian mother. Her father died one year after her birth. She lived with...

Arda Kashkashian

Although Arda Kashkashian has been living in Lebanon for several years and has received Lebanese citizenship, Aleppo still occupies a special place in her heart,...

Mohamad Sharbaji

Mohamad Sharbaji was born in 1961 in Daraya, a city with a conservative character. Since the 1960s, the majority of its inhabitants had cultivated the...

Samer Kozah

Samer Kozah was born in Bab Touma, one of the historical neighborhoods in Old Damascus. During the 1950s, people started to neglect their homes, their...

Soubhi Dassoki

After finishing middle school in 1972, Sobhi Dassoki moved from al-Raqqa to Homs to study in the teacher training institute. Four years later, he went...

Miral Zahed

Miral Zahed was born in the city of Homs in 1979 to a Syrian father and Lebanese mother. She describes Homs as a small city,...

Ahlam Nazal

Ahlam Nazal was born in 1968 in al-Silmiya city in the Hama countryside, where most of the people were poor. “The majority of the population...

Akram Al-khatib

Akram al-Khatib was born in 1969 in the city of Raqqa. He went to school there and then moved to Aleppo to study at the...

Abdallah Yousef Turkmani

Abdallah Yousef Turkmani was born in 1948 in the citadel district of Lattakia city, an old neighborhood populated by Sunni Muslims, Alawites, Christians and Armenians....

Omar Jibaiy

For the first ten years of his life, Omar Jibaiy had only ever met his father through the bars of a prison cell. He was...

Nibal Zeitoune

Nibal Zeitoune moved to Damascus to attend university, obsessed with the wish to break free from what she calls “the shell,” of her rigidly conservative...

Elham Hakki

Elham Hakki was born in 1960 in al-Raqqa city. Her father was from al-Raqqa and her mother from Homs. Her father, Mohamed Naji Hakki, established...

Najeh Kowaf

Najah Kowaf was only a child when Hama first witnessed violence and clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ruling regime in 1964. The city...

Jaber Hassan Al Choufi

Jaber Al Choufi was born in 1947 in the village of Sama al-Bardan in rural Damascus. He says that his grandfather was the mayor of...

Nazim Ahmad

An English translation of this story will be posted soon.

Tamam Baroudi

Tamam Baroudi was born in Hama in 1955 to an affluent family. His father owned several foreign agencies that sold cars and agricultural land. His...

Ibrahim Ezz

Ibrahim Ezz grew up in a conservative Damascus neighborhood before moving to Masaken Barzeh, a relatively modern precinct populated by a mixture of people who...

Jamil Adnahli

Jamil had been politically active since he was in high school and he contributed to the establishment of a political oppositional movement. At one point...

Mazen Al-Kahhal

Mazen al-Kahhal grew up in a Damascene family of pharmacists. His grandfather, who had studied pharmacology in Turkey and founded the Pharmacists' Syndicate in Damascus,...

Safwan Jamo

Safwan Jamo was a young boy when he started going the library at the Cultural Center in Armanaz city in the Idlib countryside. He didn’t...

Khawla Dunya

Khawla Dunya was born in 1968 in Damascus but moved to the town of Al-Suqaylabiyah in the Hama Governorate. She considers herself lucky to have...

Basil al-Sorouji

Basil al-Sorouji was born in Damascus in 1963. He spent the first two years of his life in Algeria then moved with his family to...

Elham Mahfod

Elham Mahfod was born in al-Silmiya city in Hama Governorate in 1948. Her father, Khodr Mahfod, was a revolutionary who took part in the Great...

Ayman Abo Hachem

Ayman Abo Hachem was born in 1969 in the Handarat Palestinian Refugee Camp north of Aleppo. The camp was established in the early 1960s and...

Samira Bahow

Samira Bahow was born in 1947 in Aleppo to a middle-income family. Although they were illiterate, her parents strongly encouraged her to pursue her education....

Abdallah Khairo Burgul

Abdallah Burgul moved with his family to the city of Saraqib, his mother’s hometown, in 1953. However, his love and attachment to Kafr Nabl always...

Hala Al Nasser

Hala al-Nasser grew up in Raqqa province, where she completed her primary and preparatory education. She then moved to Hama in order to continue her...

Ihab Al-Said

Ihab al-Said was born in 1965 in Qadisiyah village in Al-Haffah region of the Latakia province. Ihab says that Al-Haffah community was composed of three...

Jinan al-‘Awwad

Jinan al-’Awwad was born in 1958 in al-Mayadin in Deir ez-Zor, a town on the banks of the Euphrates, about 45 kilometers away from the...

Nada

Nada* was born in 1974 to a father from as-Suwayda' province and a mother from Aleppo. Nada grew up in Aleppo, studied there and then...

Bakir Mohammad Ali

Bakir Mohammad Ali was born in 1974 to a Turkmen family living in the village of Shamarin in the northern A'zaz countryside near the Turkish...

Abdel Kader Adel Hay

Abdel Kader Abdel-Hay's interest in football began in his early childhood. His skills compared to others in his age attracted the attention of the school's...

Murshid al-Nayef

Murshid al-Nayef was born in 1968 in the town of Tal Rif'at in the northern Aleppo countryside. He completed school there, and then went to...

Ousama

Ousama* was born in 1967 in the Bab Hud neighborhood of Homs to a middle-income well-known ancient family. Bab Hud is one of the ancient neighborhoods...

Abu Reda al-Maydani

Abu Reda al-Maydani grew up in the Damascene district of al-Midan, which extended from Bab Musalla to the end of al-Ashmar Square up to the...

Kibriya’ Al-Sa’ur

Kibriya’ Al-Sa’ur grew up in the city of Yabroud in rural Damascus, a city known for the beauty of its nature, its large proportion of...

Ahmad Aisha

Ahmed Aisha grew up in a village in the A’zaz region of rural Aleppo. In the early eighties, he moved into the city of Aleppo...

Wafaa Mohamad

Wafaa Mohamad was born in Saraqeb in the countryside of Idlib, a city famous for its diverse agricultural crops such as grains, olives and cotton....

Hafez Karkut

Hafez Karkut was still a child when he moved from As-Suwayda' province to Damascus, where his brothers were studying at the university. He lived in...

Jamil al-Kayyem

Jamil al-Kayyem was born in the city of Palmyra, a city distinguished by its rich historical and archaeological sites. Most of the city's population worked...

Abdel Razzaq el-Laz

Abdel Razzak El-Laz was born in 1960 in the eastern countryside of Aleppo to an educated and middle-income family. His mother worked as an educator...

Rami Al-Assaf

Rami al-Assaf was born in 1977 in Deir ez-Zor, east of Syria. He grew up in Al-Tabaqa in Raqqa province, a working class city whose...

Adeeb Alshalaf

Adeeb Alshalaf grew up in the neighborhood of Baba Amr in Homs, a neighborhood of both rural and urban character since it had been part...

Abdul Bary Othman

Abdul Bary Othman was born in 1962 in the Kurdish village of al-Kouwa in Al-Hasakah governorate, 19 km from Qamishli city. He lived a simple...

Mariam Zakaria

Mariam Abdelrahman Zakaria grew up in the city of Deir Atiyah in the Damascus countryside. The city is famous for its beauty, infrastructure and outstanding...

Hasan il-Nefi

Hasan il-Nefi was raised by a modest rural family in Manbij city in the countryside of Aleppo. The city was a mix of rural and...

Mahmoud Aboud Al Wahab

Mahmoud Al Wahab was born in 1945 to a very poor family in the city of al-Bab in rural Aleppo. He says that al-Bab was...

Marwan Abdul Razak

Marwan Abdul Razak was born in 1954 in the city of Masyaf in Hama governorate, but hails from the village of Maryamin in the district...

Nazmeye Noureddine Hasan

Nazmeye Hasan grew up in as-Salhiya neighborhood of Damascus. She stayed there until 1975, when she moved with her family to al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood, south...

Samir Nashar

Samir Nashar was born in Aleppo in 1945. Like many of his generation, he says he was influenced by the romantic socialist ideas that prevailed...

Mohamed Berro

Mohamed Berro was arrested in 1980 because of a leaflet he was carrying that goes back to the “Fighting Vanguard” or the military wing of...

Sabrie Abtini

On the day she was born in 1953, Sabrie Abtini’s grandmother was angry because the newborn wasn’t a male. She left the house feeling upset...

Amina Nona

Amina Nona started her own clinic in Haritan, a town in the countryside north of Aleppo, at a time when the area lacked midwives or...

Majed Al Alloush

Majed Khaled Al Alloush was born in 1959 in the city of Deir Ezzor. He describes it as one of the biggest cities in eastern...

Wafaa Affas

Wafaa Affas grew up in Armanaz in the Idlib countryside, where she studied and finished high school. She took the high school exam in Riyadh,...

Hayat al-Bitar

Hayat al-Bitar was born and raised in the city of Latakiya, until she was married at the age of seventeen and moved with her husband...

Ehsan Hammadeh

Ehsan Hammadeh was raised by a poor family in Aleppo. He went to middle school then enlisted in the army in 1967 so that he...

Reem Seifeddine

Reem Seifeddine was raised in a middle-class family in the village of Jusiya, located within Hama Province. She demonstrated academic excellence early, during elementary school,...

Nada Abdul Kader

Nada Abdul Kader was born in 1989 to a huge family living in Aleppo and originating from the countryside south of Aleppo. Her parents were...

Anas Abbas

Anas Abbas’ father taught him how to read and write at a very early age. By the time he was four years old he was...

Firas Younes

Firas Younes began his political activity at an early age in Syria. In 1978 at the age of 15 he joined the Communist Labor Party...

Miryam Boushi

Miryam Boushi was born in the town of Binnish in Idlib province, and began working in the fields, planting the crops and harvesting them from...

Dana Yacoub

Dana Yacoub, 34, recalls the gatherings of the Circassian community, held yearly on the seventeenth of April in the two villages of Bariqa and Bi’ir...

Fouad Fouad

Fouad Fouad enrolled in medical school at Aleppo University in 1978, around the same time as the remaining social, cultural and political student movements were...

Shamweel Warda

Shamweel Warda attended elementary school in the village of Qabar Shamiyah, one of the Assyrian villages located on the banks of the Khabur River in...

Hasna Assaf

Hasna Assaf recalls some of the customs and traditions practiced by the Turkmen in the village of Talf in rural Hama, where there was a...

Amira Ajmiye

Amira Ajmiye doesn’t remember her birthdate. She was born in the city of Talkalakh in rural Homs province, at the time when it was under...

Fatima Hassan

Fatima Hassan grew up in difficult circumstances, abused and beaten constantly by her brothers. She married a Palestinian-Jordanian man at the age of 20, who...

Mahmoud Abu Misto

Mahmoud Abu Misto was born in 1943 in the city of Al-Zabadani in the Rif Dimashq province His family was poor and subsisted on agriculture....

Naaman Haj Bakri

Naaman Haj Bakri is a theater actor from Latakiya Province. He began his artistic journey at the age of thirteen, acting and singing in school...

Yehya Ghiryani

Yehya Ghiryani grew up in the Qaterji neighborhood in Aleppo, a working-class neighborhood where most of the inhabitants came from rural areas, though there were...

Khalil Ibrahim

Khalil Ibrahim’s village in rural Aleppo is only about fifteen kilometers away from the Turkish border. It is bound on the north and east by...

Moustafa Ahmad

“The pharmacist who needs ten years to establish a life for himself in a rural area can achieve the same result in only one or...

Ahmad Miz

Ahmad Miz’s mother died of bone cancer when he was only three years old, leaving him and his two older brothers behind. Ahmad’s mother had...

Khaled Habood

Khaled Habood was born in Hasakah, in northeastern Syria. Whilst his family was Arab they adopted many of the customs of the multiple inhabitants of...

Nadia Saeed

Nadia Saeed grew up in the village of Ras al-Ain in the Qalmoun area in Rif Dimashq Province. She lived a simple, rural life within...

Jamila Amin

Jamila Amin flips through her journal, recalling the beautiful days spent at her grandmother’s house in Syria’s Quneitra Province. “That was the only time where...

Maria

“When I was little, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I would repeat my father’s words, who wanted...

George

George* talks about the relationship he had with his Jewish neighbors while growing up in Aleppo. “I don’t really remember much about the relationship we...

Elham Farhat

Elham Farhat grew up in a modest family living in the Rashidieh camp for Palestinian refugees, just outside of Saida in southern Lebanon. Her parents...

Rima Oshana

Rima Oshana recalls some of the different social occasions celebrated by the Assyrians in Hassake province in eastern Syria. The Assyrian New Year, for example,...

Ahmad Abdel Aal

Ahmad Abdel Aal was born in 1954 in the village of Jubata ez-Zeit in Quneitra province. He lived there with his family until the age...

Toufic Mohamad

Toufic Mohamad recalls his childhood in his village in rural Hassake, how he would play in the fields with the other children while their fathers...

Najah Ahmad

Najah Ahmad grew up in one of the villages in Suweida province. Her father worked in Kuwait and Libya, then as an art therapist in...

Sana Yazigi

“I was really happy during my time at university,” says Sana, “despite the anxiety we felt because of the general atmosphere of fear and inhibition....

Joumana Khamousie

For the first five years of her life, Joumana Khamousie lived in Beirut. Her mother is Palestinian-Lebanese and her father Syrian, from Hama. Her father...

Abdelsalam Hamdan

Abdelsalam Hamdan is from Deir Ez-Zor Province. A lack of general education in the area along with local customs that promoted early marriage, resulted in...

Abeer Idriss

Abeer Idriss was born to a Sunni father and an Ismaili mother in the town of Masyaf, part of Hama Province in Syria. “Most of...

Maryam Darweesh

Maryam Darweesh was born in the town of Al-Sakhna in the Syrian desert, located between the provinces of Homs and Deir ez-Zor. Al-Sakhna is a...

Hussain Abdel Rahman

Hussain Abdel Rahman was only seventeen when he one day met a man who had suffered from a psychological disorder since the age of seven....

Sami Abu Halkha

Sami Abu Halkha fell in love with music as soon as he opened his eyes to the world. By the age of fifteen, he already...

Nour Shamaa

Nour Shamaa grew up in a conservative, working-class neighborhood in Aleppo. He began attending classes on Islamic Sharia law at one of the local mosques...

Mohamad Khalaf

Mohamad Khalaf belongs to the Al-Uqaydat tribe, made up of an alliance of different clans living in Homs and Deir ez-Zor provinces, as well as...

Mohamad Dibo

Mohamad Dibo was born in the town of Al-Anaza, part of the city of Baniyas on the Syrian coast. Mohamad says that the prevailing outlook...

Walaa Mousa

Right from the very start, Walaa Mousa was unhappy about getting engaged. She wanted to finish university first and get her diploma in Arabic literature....

Mira

Mira grew up in a poor neighborhood on the edge of Damascus, dubbed Dammar al-Balad (which tellingly translates into “the country was destroyed”). She never...

Adnan Farmelli

Adnan Farmelli’s childhood was greatly impacted by his parents’ separation. Their constant fighting was compounded by his mother’s bad health, and Adnan and his sisters...

Ahmad Amer Shbareq

Architect and businessman Ahmad Amer Shbareq was born in Aleppo, and marked his entrance to the business world in 1990 when he opened an embroidered...

Bilal Ahmad Ghazal

Bilal Ahmad Ghazal was just twelve years old when he began going out to sea to learn cage fishing, encouraged by his friend and brother....

Aebesh Khalil

Aebesh Khalil was born in 1962 in Afrin, in rural Aleppo. He was brought up in the general atmosphere of coexistence and tolerance that prevailed...

Rida Abdelaal

Rida Abdelaal was born in the village of Al-Qasimiya in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta. He worked on his father’s land, but the income...

Hala Al-Mashhadani

Hala Al-Mashhadani grew up in a simple rural community, in a village named Abu Houri, in the Qaysar area of Homs province. At twelve, she...

Zeina

Zeina* was born in Sweida Province in southern Syria. She studied Business Administration and Psychology at university and specialized in the rehabilitation of those with...

Malek Satoof

Malek Satoof was born in Sheikh Alwan village in eastern rural Aleppo. “My village is quite remote,” he says, “far from the main highway. Most...

Ghada Hamoud

Ghada al-Haj Hamoud grew up in the town of Jdeidat Artouz in Rif Dimashq Province. Her family was Muslim in a predominantly Christian neighborhood, where...

Mustafa al-Shaykh Fattouh

Mustafa al-Shaykh Fattouh graduated from the Teacher’s Institute in the city of Homs in 1989. The educational system at the time required new teachers to...