Rasha Elass is a senior editor at Newlines. She is an investigative journalist, war correspondent, playwright and memoirist. She is editor-at-large at Tehranbureau.com. Born in Damascus, Rasha grew up in Europe and the Middle East, where she also spent over a decade reporting on various stories. She currently resides in Washington, D.C.
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Kamel had raised the American flag on his rooftop in the hope that the French would not aim their guns in his direction. But the French attacks were more wanton and severe. A shell raged toward his house, piercing one of its walls.
Much has been written about the din of cicadas, compared at times in its strangeness to the imagined sound of UFOs. Bob Dylan was moved to write “Day of the Locusts” when he heard them in 1970 at Princeton as he was receiving his honorary degree.
Islam’s Golden Age boasted poetry and scientific inquiry and, perhaps as relevant to the occasion, the seeds of science fiction, a literary genre that has the potential to engage the youth of the Arab and Muslim worlds and empower them to imagine the future they want for themselves and their countries.
Years later, after leaving the country and then returning as a journalist, I would ask fellow Syrians what they understood themselves to be. “What is Syria? Who is Syria?” I asked anyone who listened. “What does it mean to be a citizen of Syria?”
After the Syrian regime attacked a rebel-controlled part of Damascus with sarin gas in August 2013, I smuggled my way in to report on life in the besieged area