"Aleppo was hell, but it was home"


Posted today at 03h11

Waad Al-Kateab: Pure madness. This is what my father said when I said that one day I would be a journalist. He growled: " Waad, my daughter, we do not have in Syria this thing called freedom of expression. Problems will fall on your head. The regime will impose silence on you; its intelligence services will engulf you entirely in the basements of their prisons. They will never accept that you speak, even less than you criticize. " To get away from this "danger," he agreed to give me another wish: Aleppo. I would go to Aleppo, to university, on the condition of studying economics and marketing.

Is there a teenager in the world who makes marketing tick? I was disappointed, but I accepted because it was Aleppo, and also because my refusal to register with the Baath Party [in power] compromised the obtaining of any interesting degree. Thus our dictatorship worked: it cut our wings, deprived us of personal choices. Nobody imagined then that the country would rise up and that, in the wake of our revolution, war would turn the dreams and destinies of all Syrians upside down. The revolution made me a journalist. The war reduced Aleppo to nothing.

My family lived in Masyaf, on the road linking Hama to the Mediterranean, but my grandfather was a native Alepin. Masyaf was a small town with a medieval castle. I had eyes only for Aleppo, a metropolis rich in culture and history, with a famous university. I was a 19-year-old student when the revolution ignited the country in the spring of 2011. While we were getting images of protesters being suppressed in blood all over Syria, state television kept lying about Aleppo. According to the official speech, she remained as peaceful as an old horse. It was wrong!

Syrian director Waad Al-Kateab and her husband Dr. Hamza Khatib ITN Productions

From the beginning, the bravest ones had written " Freedom ", and even "The people want the fall of the regime," on the walls of the university. Then committees were formed to organize demonstrations. We were "the revolutionary university of Aleppo". I met those who, in the war, would become my best friends. And Dr. Hamza Khatib. Like all comrades, Hamza Khatib was not his real name. He had adopted it to honor the soul of a boy from Deraa, arrested at the age of 13, tortured to death and whose body had been returned to his family with such horrendous mutilations that the Syrians had sobbed with horror and horror. of shame.


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