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De-integration of young Syrian activists in Paris

From the book Responsibility for Refugee and Migrant Integration

  • Yahya Al-Abdullah


The brutality of Syrian’s governing regime since the start of the conflict and the widespread culture of surveillance that has emerged as a consequence has succeeded in pushing most of the country’s young activists out. Most of those who left in the early years went to neighbouring countries, believing that they could work more effectively from these places and return easily upon the conflict’s conclusion. There was a widespread belief that the conflict would not last long. This was not the case and as the situation worsened, the dream of temporary displacement started to vanish and more and more activists began leaving and heading west, mainly to Europe, to look for a better place to continue their struggle. Haunted by old memories of their revolution, some could not think about what might be next. Futures were difficult to imagine. Their struggles became hindered by the lack of language to communicate and some began to realise that their voices were changing as a result. Many are now trying to reconnect with themselves and rediscover their voices, but the process is difficult because in their new surroundings, things are very different - odours are unusual and the cities move differently. These factors make life tough, and many young Syrian activists find themselves confined to marginal spaces, groups with other Syrians, who may share the same struggle but not the same vision. This chapter is my reflection on a documentary film project that tries to capture the small repetitive details of the lives of young Syrian activists exiled in Paris. The first stage of the project is in Paris and the second might be in Berlin. Although migration and integration policies are at the core of the discussions and of the debates about the new lives of the young activists, the film project presents them as occupying an important space in the background, a looming and imposing backdrop, rather than as front and centre issues.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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