Making Home Away

So I sat them down and told them: the five of us are here, me, you and your father, wherever the five of us are, that place should be your heaven.
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An image from Syria in 2007 showing a typical propaganda poster.

Bashar al-Assad propaganda by watchsmart is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One Syrian refugee in Jordan shared a joke about the loyalty her family were expected to display for the incumbent Syrian president Bashar al-Assad:

"The fighters used to come to the house and ask the children their names. 'Bashaar, Basheer and Bushra', they would reply, all starting with same letter. We said it is because we love Bashar (Assad) and named them after him!"

Pro-Assad propaganda has long been used by the Syrian regime to link images of the long-term president to deep ideas of Syrian national identity.  As this anonymous journalist in Damascus wrote for the Guardian in 2011, at the start of the Syrian conflict, 'Syrians have (...) been besieged by relentless propaganda,' and, 'children are taught to exalt Assad.'  The joke recounted in this interview shows how weary Syrian many citizens have become of the enforced performance of loyalty.

An image from a coffee house in Damascus taken in 2010, in which a traditional storyteller performs below an image of al-Assad.

Storyteller by Evgeni Zotov is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


This extract is from an interview conducted by YASMINE SHAMMA during 2019 as part of the British Academy funded ‘Lost and Found: A Digital Archive of Migration, Displacement and Resettlement’  project’s Making Home Away archive.


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