Book launch: Syria by John McHugo

Syria’s descent into civil war has already claimed an estimated 150,000 lives while nearly nine million people have fled their homes. This is now the greatest humanitarian and political crisis of the twenty-first century. Why have Syria’s foundations as a nation proved so fragile, and why has the international community been so powerless?

Join John McHugo and Jonathan Fryer as they seek to unravel this tragedy by tracing the history of Syria from the First World War to the present. This event will also mark the publication of Syria: From the Great War to Civil War by John McHugo (Saqi Books).

Thursday 3 July 2014
7pm • Mosaic Rooms
A.M. Qattan Foundation
Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road
London SW5 0SW
FREE EVENT • RSVP essential

John McHugo is an international lawyer and historian, with over forty years’ experience of the Arab world. A board member of CAABU and a director of the British Egyptian Society, McHugo is also chair of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine. His previous publications include A Concise History of the Arabs. He has written for the BBC website, Chatham House’s The World Today, History Today and specialist international law journals.

Jonathan Fryer is a freelance writer, lecturer and broadcaster on international affairs. He writes for the BBC and the Guardian and lectures part-time at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. His publications include histories of Iraqi Kurdistan and Kuwait.

The discussion will be followed by a Q&A and there will be an opportunity to purchase and have copies of the book signed by the author.

This event is FREE, but please reserve your place by email:

Syria Speaks at Waterstones Piccadilly

Waterstones Piccadilly and Saqi Books are delighted to host an evening of


Tuesday 17 June 2014
7pm • Waterstones Piccadilly
203-206 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD
FREE EVENT • RSVP essential

Centred around a panel talk with novelists KHALED KHALIFA, SAMAR YAZBEK and ROBIN YASSIN-KASSAB, artist KHALIL YOUNES and filmmaker ZAHER OMAREEN, chaired by writer-editor MALU HALASA, this will be an evening of discussion and insight with film screenings to give us a glimpse into Syrian life.


This event is free, but please reserve your place by email:

Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen and Nawara Mahfoud, is published 16 June 2014, price £12.99.


Since the uprising began in March 2011, Syrian writers and artists have been creating work like never before, becoming their own publishers on the internet and forming anonymous artists’ collectives. Culture has become a critical line of defence against tyranny. Syria Speaks is a celebration of a people determined to reclaim their dignity, freedom and self-expression. Join Syrian artists and writers at events across the UK for readings and discussions on cultural resistance in the country. The line-up will include award-winning Damascus-based novelist KHALED KHALIFA, cinematographer and video artist KHALIL YOUNES, writer and filmmaker ZAHER OMAREEN, and authors MALU HALASA and ROBIN YASSIN-KASSAB.

These events will mark the publication of Syria Speaks, a unique anthology of uprising literature, art and culture, showcasing the work of over fifty artists and writers who are challenging the culture of violence in Syria. Their literature, poems and songs, cartoons, political posters and photographs document and interpret the momentous changes that have shifted the frame of reality so drastically in Syria. Moving and inspiring, Syria Speaks is testament to the courage, creativity and imagination of the Syrian people. These events will be a window onto these creative endeavours during this time of turmoil.

LONDON – Wednesday 11 June | 7.30pm | £4 (with music from the Raast Collective)
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Full details and to book tickets here

BRISTOL – Thursday 12 June | 6pm | £4
Festival of Ideas at Foyles Bookshop, 6 Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, Bristol BS1 3BU
Full details and to book tickets here

OXFORD – Friday 13 June | 6.30pm | £5/£4
Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH
Full details and to book tickets here

LIVERPOOL – Saturday 14 June | 5pm | Free Event
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, The Bluecoat,
School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BX
Full details and to book tickets here

BRADFORD – Sunday 15 June | 4pm | Free Event
FUSE Art Space, 5-7 Rawson Place, Bradford BD1 3QQ
Full details and to book tickets here

DURHAM – Monday 16 June | 6.30pm | Free Event (with Fadia Faqir)
School of Government and International Affairs, Al-Qasimi Building, University of Durham, Elvet Hill Road, Durham DH1 3TU
Full details and to book tickets here

The visiting authors will also take part in workshops with English PEN at schools, refugee community centres and a prison.

Download the Syria Speaks UK tour flyer here

These events are presented by Reel Festivals in partnership with English PEN, Saqi Books, LIFT Festival, Prince Claus Fund, CKU, British Council and the Arab British Centre. This project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen and Nawara Mahfoud, is published 16 June 2014, price £12.99.

Translating the Syrian news

Presented by Free Word and English PEN A panel of journalists discuss how events in Syria are reported by the international and Syrian media and how the contrast between what is presented to a domestic and global audience can be mediated. Panelists include Channel 4 presenter Paul Mason, alongside Armand Hurault, Zaher Omareen and Mohamed Ali Hamed. The event will be chaired by Malu Halasa, co-editor

of Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline Thursday 29 May 2014 19:00 • Free Word Lecture Theatre £5 / £3 Part of Free Word’s Translators in Residence programme and the Islington Word Festival 2014. For more information or to order tickets, click here.

Keep Your Eye on the Wall opening in Ramallah

In art

and literature, walls are frequently used as powerful symbols of division. For the people of Palestine, however, the wall that cuts deeply into their land and society is all too real, snaking through over 700 kilometres of the West Bank and Gaza. It throttles Palestinians, seals off Israelis, and all but guarantees perpetual ignorance, fear and rage on both sides. Keep Your Eye on the Wall brings together seven award-winning artist-photographers and four essayists, all responding to the

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Wall in images or words. The photographers present unique perspectives, whether it is documenting the journey of labourers across the concrete separation barrier, or exploring the layers and textures of a wall in Gaza. Monday 19 May 2014 18.00 • French-German Cultural Center, Ramallah FREE EVENT (Exhibition on display until 20 June 2014) Photographs by: Taysir Batniji, Rula Halawani, Raeda Saadeh, Steve Sabella and Kai Wiedenhöfer Curatorial team: Masasam (Mónica Santos and Sandra Maunac) Book editors: Olivia Snaije and Mitchell Albert Partners: French Consulate, Goethe-Institut, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Spanish Consulate The opening is followed by a reception and a book signing with the artists and the editors. For more information: T: +972 2 2981922 E:

Reza Aslan Guest Speaker for Writers at York

Reza Aslan, internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, will be discussing his New York Times Bestseller book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth as part of the prestigious Writers at York series.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth shot to No.1 on the New York Times bestseller list after the infamous interview on Fox News. You can watch the video here.

Aslan’s first book is the International Bestseller, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which has been translated into seventeen languages, and named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade. He is also the author of How to Win a Cosmic War (published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in a Globalized Age), as well as editor of two volumes: Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, and Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalties, Contentions, and Complexities.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

6.30 • York Medical Society

Stonegate, York, North Yorkshire YO1 8AW


Free event. No need to book, although you are welcome to join the Facebook event page or get an optional Eventbrite ticket.