Imagine yourself at work one day when the boss comes to you, hands you a shovel, a gun, and says “the invasion is starting, you must defend your workplace.” It may sound implausible but that is exactly what happened to my guest on the program today.Ali Al Shouk was your average working chemist when the invasion of Iraq began in 2003. It was then that a series of traumatic events and coincidences would begin, eventually leading him to a career in journalism and a place he did not expect to end up.In between my taxi interviews Ali and I sat down together in Dubai to talk about his amazing experiences that made him who he is today.
Lamija Tanovic grew up in a Yugoslavia with a quality of life that makes today’s Bosnia look like another planet. A time where values such as education, cooperation, and participation were essential. An era that would later give way to a terrible war and a dysfunctional plan to create a new nation in its aftermath. Through it all, Lamija explains, everyone always wished to come home and make a life in this beautiful place. The problem is, today’s Bosnia makes it quite difficult for anyone to have a decent life and as a result, people have left and will continue to leave.
“People here are a whole lot more rational than they give themselves credit for. They all think they are more moderate than the norm; they don’t realize they are the norm.”Kurt Bassuener has been working on the issue of Bosnia for over 15 years and in that time has figured out what many people inside and outside the country have not – what is wrong and what can be done about it. That is, in fact, one of the key lessons to take home from this Bosnia 101 conversation; there is hope, there are things that can be done, if specific actors would be willing to change the status quo.
In 2011 Ahmad and Karam, two university students from Deir ez-Zor took to the streets as part of the mass protest movement demanding an end to the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. Their protest was met by violent reprisals, mass arrests, and soon war broke out and the government undertook a full siege of the city. Since that time, these two friends have become a reporting team, collecting videos and still images as their families and their community have been decimated by war.