Author(s): Mohammed Samer
The Raqqa Diaries began as a series of short broadcasts on the Radio 4's Today Programme. Now one of the most isolated and fear ridden cities on earth, no-one is allowed to speak to western journalists or leave Raqqa, without IS' permission. Those caught breaking the rules face death by beheading. Despite this, Mike Thomson, with the help of BBC's Arabic Service, found a young man who is willing to risk his life to tell the world what is happening in his city. Part of a small anti-IS activist group, the diaries were written, encrypted and sent to a third country before being translated. The diarist's father is killed and mother badly injured during an air strike, he is sentenced to 40 lashes for speaking out against a beheading, he sees a woman stoned to death. They show how every aspect of life is impacted - from the spiralling costs of food to dictating the acceptable length of trousers. At one point, the sale of televisions is banned. As Mohammed says, 'It seems it's not enough to stop us talking to the outside world, now we can't even look at it.' Having seen friends and relatives butchered, his community's life shattered and the local economy ruined by these hate-fuelled extremists, Mohammed believes he's fighting back by telling the world what is happening to his beloved city. Raw, direct and profoundly affecting, THE RAQQA DIARIES is an important book by a brave young man which allows unprecedented access to the brutal conditions which many Syrians are living under.
"This should be compulsory reading for all who care about the horror of Syria. Especially those who control its fate." -- John Humphrys "Remarkable ... We owe it to the author - and to all those who have died - to read his account of the evil cruelty of Daesh and the horrors of the Syrian civil war." -- Hillary Benn "A powerful lesson in courage and humanity in the face of brutality and ignorance." -- Mishal Husain
Samer is 24 years old. Having escaped from Raqqa he is living in a refugee camp in northern Syria.