A rare, terrifying glimpse inside the Islamic State group (referred to here as Daesh) by a young hounded Syrian student.
Dedicated to “Syria’s media activists,” who are routinely and viciously executed by beheading or crucifixion in Daesh-controlled areas of Syria, this moving first-person narrative is the work of the pseudonymous writer “Samer,” who was forced to flee his hometown of Raqqa after life under Daesh became unbearable. The narrative begins on March 6, 2013, when the narrator, a young man from a large family trying to attend university and help support his younger siblings, became aware of the faltering of the Free Syrian Army and the worrisome advent of the Daesh. The relentless religious police prowled the street to impose restrictive women’s dress standards and bans on smoking and possession of TVs and to extract money from businesses; many of their actions were arbitrary and vindictive. Soon it became very dangerous to utter any criticism of the new regime. Once content with the life of his parents, “with all its simplicity and innocent dreams,” Samer got caught up in Arab resistance and hindered at every step by economic plight (his father had to work two jobs to make ends meet), lack of opportunity (Samer had to give up his dreams of studying architecture), and blighted love—the one sympathetic woman he loved at the university was forced to marry a Free Syrian Army fighter in a sordid bargain to release her brother from jail. Samer’s father was denounced as a dissident by his boss and then died in a Russian-backed bombing of their family home, and many of his outspoken friends were jailed or publicly executed. The author understood that documenting and broadcasting the message of repression and murder out to the world might help save his people, if he saved his own life first (he now lives in a refugee camp in northern Syria). BBC foreign affairs correspondent Thomson provides a brief introduction.
A moving, urgent work of political awareness.