Saraqeb Social and Cultural Forum

20 February 2015

The Saraqeb Social and Cultural Forum was established on 15 November 2012 shortly after the city came under the control of opposition forces. The forum traces its roots to a small kindergarten that was established by activists at the time, as recounted by Lahab Barish in an interview with SyriaUntold. The forum's first activity, a mere month after its establishment, was to organise an elections for the Saraqeb local governing council. This, according to Barish, was a pioneering step in Syria at the time with more than 1,300 participants. The council never managed to wrest control of the city from the opposition militias, but the experience remains one of pride for the organisation.

The center has continued its efforts despite the setback. It has served as a cultural focal point for events in the town from poetry and theatre to lectures and workshops. It was also a mobilisation point for demonstrations and protests. Today the center relies on the effort of its 17 volunteers to carry on its efforts.

ورشة ضمن المنتدى.

The forum has also tried to expand its activities and provide a link between the city and its surrounding countryside. Through invitations for provincial artists and groups, and activities organised in rural areas (like delivering magazines and newspapers), the center hoped to create a larger impact on the area.

However, the group faces a multitude of challenges to their operations. Mainly from the constant bombardment of the town by Assad's forces, and emptying of its people in favour of safer places. They also face a significant amount of harassment and difficulty in dealing with the local opposition militias. Finally, the lack of funding has been a hinderance for expanding their activities further.


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad