Book Review:

"Here is Syria"

Elham Tavoosi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


The book "This Is Syria" is the voice of female narrators of the war in Syria, where Zohreh Yazdanpanah has compiled memories of war-torn women in two parts during her two trips to the country.

The first part of the book relates to the author's first journey in autumn and winter 2017-2018 that it has been compiled in eleven chapters, and each chapter refers to interviews with a number of Syrian women. In the second chapter of the first part, the author informs us of the voices of women who speak of the tragedy of Slinfah, and in the third chapter narrates women who have emigrated from al-Fu’ah and Kafriya and earns their livelihood in a sewing workshop.

The second part of the book refers to a retelling of the author's second journey in the summer of 2018, which is also divided into eleven chapters. In each chapter of the second part, Ms. Yazdanpanah narrates memories of the women who have seen the tragedy of al-Rashideen car bombing and the tragedy of al-Bayda, the assassination of Sheikh al-Laham, Zainabiyah, and the martyrs of holy shrine defender. Finally, the author depicts freedom of the people of al-Fu’ah and Kafriya in the eleventh chapter of the second part.

The book was produced in Oral History Unit of the Office for Cultural Studies of Islamic Revolution and its first edition was published in 1,000 copies for the price of 1100000 Rial in 2021.

"This Is Syria" narrates a great event and shows that in the hours and moments when we lived peacefully and safely, there was a war near us that, far from any international principles and rules, was brutally perishing children and women; a war that, although aimed at dividing Shia and Sunni, on the scene of the struggle and killing there was no difference between Muslim or Christian, Shia or Sunni.

The book is full of suffering of mothers and women who have seen the most brutal scenes and are silent. The innocence that shouts line by line in the book cannot be cured anytime soon.

Rather than a prodigious story, this book is a bitter reality for those who have only heard name of war, not what has been imposed on the hearts and souls of women and children.

Heart words of Syrian women and the hardships they have suffered over the years have prompted the writer to continue her path with all the strength, and even with minimal means merely to bring these women's voices to the world.

In the circumstances of those days in Syria, the author sees the danger so close that she does not allow himself to take off her headscarf even during rest and sleep. She accompanies Syrian women and understands their harsh conditions as much as that she refuses to even turn on her room heater or eat enough dinner, as if she is suffering from a guilty conscience; women who have become witnesses to the war that has intruded their homes.

A woman who loses her sight and is paralyzed from stress due to seeing her husband's bisected body. A year and a half Noor who was shot in the middle of her childish play in their home. Or a woman who is being brutally attacked by ISIS women with iron teeth in their mouths simply because her wrists are visible, and they mutilate her and died a martyr. Four days before his father's martyrdom, Muhannad dreams his father is going to heaven and has given him lock of the house. Heidari, who died a martyr by a bomb in the courtyard of the house while he/she was fasting. A teacher who teaches students with only a pencil and an office in shift. Or Sahami who has seven children and her husband is martyred a day before release of Nabl and Al-Zahraa. Narrative of a woman who is mayor of village of Aqarab and takes up arms after the enemy's attack and wears a combat uniform... they are all women's narratives and the oppression in their delicate and motherly souls.

The author is lucky and after depicting the sufferings and sorrows, she witnessed release of all 9,600 people of al-Fu’ah and Kafriya who had been under siege for many years and portrays merrymaking of this reunion, when they had returned to the arms of their loved ones after a long time.

The picture on cover of the book is also a resident of al-Fu’ah and Kafriya who was exchanged for enemy captives.

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