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The book smugglers of Daraya

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Daraya's book smugglers - A secret library in Syria, by Delphine Minoui

Edition Seuil, October 2017 - 160 Pages
There is no prison that can lock up free speech. There is no blockade strong enough to prevent information from circulating. »
Excerpt from the speech of Syrian dissident Mazen Darwich, delivered on 2″ April 2016 to the World Press Photo, after his release from Syrian jails.
From 2012 to 2016, the rebel suburb of Daraya suffered a relentless siege imposed by Damascus. Four years of descent into hell, punctuated by bombings with barrels of explosives, attacks with chemical gas, submission through hunger. Despite the violence of Bashar al-Assad's regime, some forty young Syrian revolutionaries took the unusual gamble of exhuming thousands of books buried under the ruins to gather them in a clandestine library, sealed off in a basement of the city.
Their resistance through books is an allegory: that of the absolute refusal of any form of political or religious domination. It embodies this third voice, between Damascus and Daech, born of the peaceful demonstrations at the start of the anti-Assad uprising in 2011, which the war now threatens to stifle.
This story, the result of a Skype correspondence between a French journalist and these rebellious activists, is a hymn to individual freedom, tolerance and the power of literature.
This book is a tribute to this group of young scholars who cling to knowledge like a shield. A novel experience of democracy in a most unlikely place: an underground library in the midst of chaos.
"An underground space, safe from radar and shells, where young and old readers would meet. Reading as a refuge. A page open to the world when all ports are padlocked. »
"But he wants to talk about books, his new passion, not to lament his health. He, the survivor, dares to believe in their benefits. If they cannot heal the wounds, they have the power to heal the wounds on the head. In fact, the simple act of "reading to him is of immense comfort. A sensation discovered as soon as the library was created. He likes to wander between the pages. Flip through the pages endlessly. Getting lost between periods and commas. Navigating on unknown territories. - The book does not dominate. It gives. It does not castrate. It thrives. »
Delphine Minoui is a leading reporter for Le Figaro, a specialist in the Middle East. Awarded the 2006 Albert Londres Prize for her reports in Iran and Iraq, she has been criss-crossing the Arab-Muslim world for 20 years. After Tehran, Beirut and Cairo, she now lives in Istanbul, where she continues to follow Syrian news closely. She is also the author of Les Pintades à Téhéran (Jacob-Duvernet), Moi, Nojoud, dix ans, divorcée (Michel Lafon), Tripoliwood (Grasset) and Je vous écris de Téhéran (Seuil).

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