“It was 3 in the morning. When the neighbors smelled smoke they went down to the center. It was on fire. Everything was black, especially the room where the library was.”
With these words, Nour, the head of the Center of Mazaya describes the incident to SyriaUntold. Mazaya, which had created a warm environment for women to meet and learn, was turned to ashes on November 10, 2014.
Although no one was able to identify the perpetrators, the people of Kafranbel point the finger at the extremists groups occupying the city. It seems that the empowering message of the center and its women-centered activities, was seen by some as threat.
“Raising awareness among women, who are the key element in building society in Syria is detrimental to the goals of these radical groups,” highlights activist and artist Raed Fares, “The purpose of the assault was not stealing, but sabotage,” adds Nour.
Nevertheless, the women of Mazaya have shown steadfastness in the face of their aggressors. They rehabilitated the center, cleaned the books from smoke and put everything back in place, as if nothing happened.
This strength stems from a firm belief in their cause, says Nour, who addressed the perpetrators saying: “Despite being capable of committing such horrid crimes, you are weak. Your language is murder, theft and arson, a language we do not understand.”
To prevent similar incidents, the activists consider conducting a night patrol program. In addition, Nour demands political parties to take into account the existence of the center, as an active grassroots group. She also calls for more unity and cooperation between civil society organizations that hold the same cause.
In conclusion, artist Raed Fares emphasized that this incident although tragic, can not break the spirit of Mazaya’s women:
“Some hands struggle to build something and make the lives of others better, while others destroy and burn. The Center of Mazaya will remain active, for it is not a bunch of walls and equipment, but relentless work and effort."