Rim Mahmoud

Produced by: Sharq.Org
Part of the Curated Collection: Conflict, Migration & Identity,
Original Interview Length:
Interview Location: 21 May 2021
Production Team:
Available Collateral:

Rim Mahmoud is a journalist from Syria. Here, she introduces herself in terms of her Syrian identity:

I present myself as a person living in Syria, a female journalist, and I have values I believe in. I like to enact the qualities of the civilization to which I belong, and which are a part of the entire world’s civilizational heritage. 


On what represents her Syrian identity and how she feels about it:

We carry a cultural heritage, and though I have two nationalities, I am Syrian because I grew up here and lived here. My mother is from Latin America, so I have two cultures, but we were raised here, with this language and this culture. All of these things were formed in me over stages. My Syrian-ness today isn’t limited by any borders. As people of a particular region we have our own color and shape and nature, and these are different from other people’s because of the geography and place that imposes them on us, as is true of everyone in the world. When I say Syria, I mean the Levant, which is the larger geographical region, an arena of many conflicts but also many divine messages. This area has its own special particularities that are seeded into us in some ways, and we drink it up and our Syrian-ness is then made up of all of these things at once. 


On how the current conflict has impacted her sense of identity:

At the beginning of the conflict, we young people were living a dream come true. We had many big questions, but the dream started to fracture over stages with the beginning of the conflict. We began wondering: is there war in my country because the borders are drawn in this particular way? I didn’t draw them, and so do I belong to them? Must I fight for borders I never drew? A global conflict drew up the borders to this entire region and said: here’s your country, and here are your borders, and you must belong here and sacrifice your life for the sake of this place. It’s true that I belong to this geographical space and we have a modern state and I am a Syrian citizen with a Syrian passport or ID, but if I wanted to leave, I’d see that no one recognizes this passport, and so why do I belong to this piece of paper? Then I say: it’s because I’m proud of this place, even if it doesn’t allow me to travel given that most countries now don't allow Syrians to travel. 


On how the outcome of the conflict might affect her sense of identity:

I make no predictions, I don’t say “what if”, because what I see before me is a reality that is making not just Syrians but the whole world sit up and take notice. We have a huge pandemic on our hands, and the disaster can’t be solved by one country or one people; it's a human thing. In the end I am a Syrian citizen, and it’s my right to live in a country where I can claim all my rights. I love this country from a standpoint of absolute love, because this place has given me so much and I should be able to live out my existence here, because this land belongs to us all.


On how immigration has impacted her sense of identity:

Immigration and identity are of course very much tied to one another. We are currently living something different: there are things happening inside Syria that aren’t right, with people of a certain sect all grouping together in one place. I don’t agree with this. As for Syrians migrating abroad, I see it as a kind of integration and as a positive thing, especially if one is bringing one’s culture and way of thinking to this new place. 


She goes on:

To tell you the truth immigration hasn’t affected me much, but I’ve seen it affect my friends both positively and negatively. There is something that gets distorted but something else that gets strengthened. Those who fled their areas and were displaced inside Syria now live in totally unacceptable conditions, and I find this inhuman. 


One how customs and traditions influence her sense of identity:

I find the concept of customs and traditions in our country quite beautiful, because everything that’s around you shapes you and your life. But something quite painful happened to me, because the brother who was once an extension of me rejected me. That was very hard. Something broke with the Syrian conflict, even music, even our way of life. There’s a lack everywhere. Most people can no longer get food to eat, and most of our habits have changed. You now feel too ashamed to go visit someone because you don’t want to embarrass them since they are unable to fulfill their duty by you as their guest, not even on holidays. We have a very bad economic crisis where over 90% of people now live below the poverty line. 


If she had to define her identity briefly:

A person living on the land of Syria to which she belongs, and at the same time, I belong to the universe. I am Rim the Syrian person whose space is not just limited to Syria.