For more than half a century, Syria has been dominated by the Assad regime, a regime that elevated arbitrary persecution, destruction and torture to a structural principle of rule in order to secure its own power in the long term. Talking about Suriya al-Assad therefore always means talking about the violent transgression of the boundaries of bodies, society and humanity, about worlds of experience in which death and life have become mixed to the point of indistinguishability. Above all, however, it means talking about the impossible, which has become reality against all odds and hoped-for democratization efforts: the terrible, which completely denies all sense and all language. For only by including the cruel experiences of Syrians in all reflections on the country, by depicting the horror as directly as possible, by living through it and acknowledging it, can we succeed, as Yassin Al-Haj Saleh breathtakingly demonstrates, in developing a consciousness of horror that brings about moral anger and thus leads to creativity and a more just world.
Arabic original available
Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, born in Raqqa in 1961, studied medicine before being arrested in 1980 as a member of the democratic wing of the Communist Party for his opposition to the Assad regime and spending 16 years in Syrian prisons. In 2013, his wife Samira was kidnapped in a Damascus suburb and has disappeared to this day. Saleh has lived in exile since 2013, first in Istanbul and since 2017 in Berlin.