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First session (out to the 1:47:41 time stamp, though the video does continue into the second session . . .):

Second session (beginning at the the 1:47:41 time stamp):

Posted on YouTube by Mohammad Al Attar

Source of the programme description that follows, HERE:


The 18th of March 2011, marked the first sparkle of the Syrian Revolution against one of the most brutal totalitarian regimes in the region. But very soon the country will enter dark phases of civil and proxy wars. The writer and political dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Syrian playwright Mohammad Al Attar, and Syrian writer and editor Yasmine Merei, are hosting group of Syrian and European experts and writers to discuss Syria’s complicated present and ambiguous future.

Session 1: 5-7 pm 
Moderated by Mohammad Al Attar
Speakers: Thomas Pierret (Belgium), Kristin Helberg (Germany), Yassin al-Haj Saleh (Syria)

With an open Q&A with audience.

Session 2: 7.30-9.30 pm 
Moderated by Yasmine Merei
Speakers: Bassma Kodmani (Syria), Nicolas Hénin (France), Mazen Darwish (Syria)

With an open Q&A with audience.

In cooperation with Allianz Kulturstiftung.


Image: Untitled. Zena El Abdallah

Thomas Pierret is a Senior Researcher at CNRS-IREMAM Aix-en-Provence. He holds a PhD in Political science from Sciences Po Paris and the University of Louvain. He was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh (2011-2017) and a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University and Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. His research concerns issues of authority and ideology in Sunni Islam, as well as the organization and alliance strategies of rebel factions in the Syrian conflict. He is the author of Religion and State in Syria, The Sunni Ulama from Coup to Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2013), and the co-editor of Ethnographies of Islam (Edinburgh University Press, 2012). His recent publications include “Salafis at war in Syria. Logics of fragmentation and realignment” (in Salafism after the Arab Awakening, Hurst, 2017).

Kristin Helberg, born in 1973, is a journalist and political scientist. She studied in Hamburg and worked for the NDR before moving to Damascus in 2001. For seven years she reported from Syria for German, Austrian and Swiss media. Now she lives in Berlin as author and expert on Syrian and Middle Eastern Affairs. She wrote two books: Brennpunkt Syrien. Einblick in ein verschlossenes Land (Herder 2014) and Verzerrte Sichtweisen – Syrer bei uns. Von Ängsten, Missverständnissen und einem veränderten Land(Herder 2016). Her third book, Der Syrien-Krieg. Lösung eines Weltkonflikts will be published in July 2018.

Yassin al-Haj Saleh, born in Raqqa, Syria, in 1961, was a political prisoner between 1980 and 1996 for being a member in a communist party opposing the Assad regime. He is author of six books: Syria From Under Shades: Insights from Within the Black Box (2009), The Myths of the Successors: a Critique of Contemporary Islam and a Critique of the Critique (2011), Salvation, o Guys: 16 Years in the Syrian Prisons (2012), and Walking on One Leg (2012), Culture as Politics: Intellectuals and their Social Responsibility in the time of Monsters (2016), The Impossible Revolution(2017). He is a founding member of al Jumhuriya group that thinks and writes about Syrian affairs since March 2012: http://aljumhuriya.net/. Also, he has been awarded with the Prince Claus Prize in 2012. Currently, he is a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin – Institute for Advanced Studies.

Bassma Kodmani is the Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative, and Associate Professor of International Relations at Paris University. She served as senior adviser at the French National Research Council, Senior Research Fellow at CERI-Sciences Po, adviser to the Académie Diplomatique Internationale and Senior Visiting Fellow at the Collège de France. From 1981 to 1998, she established and directed the Middle East Program at the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI) in Paris. She holds a PhD in Political Science from Sciences Po in Paris. She has authored and edited books, reports and articles on conflicts, political and security reforms and religious authorities in the Middle East. Kodmani holds the distinction of Chevalière de la Légion d’Honneur of France.

Nicolas Hénin holds a master in History of international relations from Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, and a master’s degree in journalism from the Practical Institute for Journalism, Paris. He spent most of his life as a freelance reporter, based first in Baghdad (2002-2004), then Amman (2004-2007). He then enlarged his perimeter to Africa and covered all of the MENA region, mostly for Le Point newsmagazine and Arte channel. He covered intensively the “Arab spring” revolutions and went numerous times to Syria. He’s been abducted by ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, and kept hostage for almost a year. He’s the author of several essays, including Jihad Academy.

Mazen Darwish is a Syrian human rights defender and journalist. He obtained his Law degree from Damascus University. He is currently the president of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), which he established in Damascus in 2004 with his activists’ colleagues. In 2011, Darwish established the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) with his friends, the activists Razan Zeitouneh, Wael Hamada and Nazem Hammadi, in order to pursue the violations of the Syrian regime against demonstrators and peaceful protesters. Since the beginning of his activism, Mazen Darwish has been subjected to numerous arrests and harassment by the Assad regime. His last arrest came in February 16, 2012, where he spent three and-a-half-years of detention. During his detention in 2015, Darwish won the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize and shared the PEN Pinter Prize for the year 2014 with the writer Salman Rushdie.


Mohammad Al Attar is a Syrian playwright and dramaturge. He graduated with a degree in English literature from Damascus University and holds a degree in Theatrical Studies from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus. He also received a Masters in Applied Drama from Goldsmiths, London. His theatrical works like Withdrawal, Online, Look at the street…this is what hope looks like, Could You Please Look into the Camera?, Intimacy,Antigone of Shatila, and While I was waiting have been staged at various international festivals and venues. His piece Aleppo. A portrait of Absencewas staged at HKW, Berlin in September 2017, while his most recent play Iphigenie is still running at Volksbühne. Al Attar has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, with a special focus on the Syrian Uprising. Today, he is considered an important chronicler of war-torn Syria.

Yasmine Merei is a Syrian writer and journalist. She is the founder and director of the Women for Common Spaces Initiative in Berlin, specialized in refugee women issues and integration tools. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bawabat Souria, an online magazine which focuses on the Syrian current situation. From 2013 to 2015, she co-founded and moderated The Forum of Knowledge and Freedom of Expression in Gaziantep, Turkey. Through this forum, she discussed the political situation in Syria with a group of speakers from different political, journalistic and academic backgrounds in the first Syrian dialogue experience in exile. From 2013 to 2016, she worked as the managing editor of the women’s magazine Saiedet Souria.