Young people distanced from Syria: Our memories for whom?

Turkish teacher and her Syrian students (AA)

Turkish teacher and her Syrian students (AA)


Nour al-Taqi – “Maris” (Practice) training program

A large segment of Syrian children and adolescents in Turkey are distanced from the reality of their country. “Ignorance” of the culture and history of Syria has become spread among them under the pretext of integration, which has gradually started to transform into a fusion into the culture of the country of asylum.

Syrians started flowing to the Turkish territories in 2011 after the outbreak of the Syrian revolution. The number of Syrian adolescents in Turkey exceeded 273,000 people, 90 percent of them enrolled in Turkish schools, according to a report published by BBC News Arabic website in August.

Estrangement from Syrian memory

While adolescents were preoccupied with learning the Turkish language and trying to adapt in the Turkish community, a new generation has emerged with some of its members showing signs of estrangement from their belonging and identity, lack of mastery of the Arabic language and ignorance of the Syrian culture.

Ibrahim Koki, a scriptwriter and father of three children, the eldest of whom is 16 and the youngest 9, said to Enab Baladi: “One of my children asked me: ‘Who is Hafez al-Assad and was he a criminal as well?’.” Koki insisted that parents today are torn between trying to balance their desire in directing their children towards their cause or leaving the freedom for their children to investigate and choose. Parents are also fearful of the unknown and making their children bear the consequences of what the parents did.

He added that the issue of educating the younger generation on the reality and injustice that occurred and still occurring in Syria is “a central innate” matter, just like the importance of teaching them about religion and morals.

“What would I do if I go back there?”

“During history classes at school, I feel eager to learn about the history and civilization of my country. Turkey’s history is beautiful, but Syria and its history are still the best,” said Shahd Qadriya, a Damascene girl studying at a Turkish school in Istanbul.

During the past years, and after great difficulty in trying to integrate into Turkish society, Shahd has become part of this society, and she almost forgot many details of her life in Syria.

Sham and Shahd are twins who left Syria with their family when they were eight, escaping the unstable country and the poor living and security situation, amid the absence of the basics of life. They studied in Turkish schools and mastered the Turkish language.

Sham fears ​​returning to Syria, and describes it as a very hard matter because of the difficulty of adapting again to the adopted Arab curricula in Syria. “What would I do if I go back there?” said Shahd, wondering about the reason for returning to Syria, the home country with which she has no ties.

Sham and Shahd’s situation is similar to that of Hussein Abu Ras, a 15 years old Syrian boy who holds exceptional Turkish citizenship and who left Aleppo to Turkey in 2013.

Hussein describes what happened in Syria as a revolution of a people who demanded change and revolted against injustice, and then he keeps quiet. His little knowledge about his country’s matters does not help him to elaborate more. He says that no one of his parents talked to him about what is happening in Syria because of their preoccupation with life concerns and difficulties, and that he does not care about knowing what happened and happening right now.

During his recent visit to Syria, Hussein was afraid of the unstable situation there, but he hopes to return to his country in the future, despite its impossibility amid the current situation. Although he obtained Turkish citizenship, his tie with Syria remains the strongest, as he put it.

Promising examples

Trying to simplify his perception of the Syrian reality, Walid Ayoubi, 16, claimed: “In Syria, we were suffering from ignorance that made us accept convictions that do not represent us, and which our ancestors bore in spite of them and bequeathed to our fathers.”

Walid believed that the awareness of a group of young people, who want to change reality and depart from the “failed” regime, is what sparked the Syrian revolution.

Walid was already eight when his family decided to leave Syria and take refuge in Turkey in 2012, after their house in Rukneddine neighborhood in Damascus was subjected to several raids by the Syrian regime forces, in search of a group of activists who lived next to them.

Over the next eight years he spent in Turkey, Walid built his own convictions on the Syrian issue. “No one forced me to believe in or adopt the idea of ​​the revolution, but the heartbreak I felt when I left my homemade me think about what happened and try to know what is the purpose behind all this; then came the stories that I heard from the people around me and from what we see and hear daily. This is in addition to my feeling of belonging to a Muslim nation. All of this made the revolution an issue that I believe in,” said Walid to Enab Baladi.

He described the current situation in Syria as “tragic” and “frustrating” after a large group of people have gradually relinquished the issue and the “deterioration” of the intellectual situation of the younger generation.

Walid seeks to leave a mark and start a change. After graduating from the Turkish high school, he wants to enter the Engineering Institute hoping to return to Syria with his young peers, and make the change they are dreaming of.


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