Escape from Islamic State
An incredibly brave account of life inside one of the most isolated and fear ridden cities in the world.
‘Everyone should spend a couple of hours of their life reading it, to remind themselves that, even in the darkest depth of human misery, the bravest souls still exist.’ Sunday Times
Since ISIS occupied Raqqa in eastern Syria, it has become one of the most isolated and fear-ridden cities on earth.
The sale of televisions has been banned, wearing trousers the wrong length is a punishable offence, and using a mobile phone is considered an unforgivable crime.
No journalists are allowed in and the penalty for speaking to the western media is death by beheading.
Despite this, after several months of nervy and often interrupted conversations, the BBC was able to make contact with a small activist group, Al-Sharqiya 24. Finally, courageously, one of their members agreed to write a personal diary about his experiences.
Having seen friends and relatives butchered, his community's life shattered and the local economy ruined by these hate-fuelled extremists, Samer is fighting back in the only way he can: by telling the world what is happening to his beloved city.
This is Samer's story.
'Remarkable . . . rare, intimate . . . Samer is an understated hero of our time.' Anthony Loyd, The Times
'A clarion call to all of us that we should not give up. Somewhere there is a voice in the wreckage.' Michael Palin
'This is brutal non-fiction, plainly and urgently told.' Robin Yassin-Kassab, Guardian
'The simple act of bearing witness is one of the most powerful human responses available . . . The Raqqa Diaries is so important.' Evening Standard
“Remarkable . . . rare, intimate . . . Samer is an understated hero of our time.”
“As powerful and fast-paced as a thriller . . . this is brutal non-fiction, plainly and urgently told.”
Robin Yassin-Kassab, Guardian
“Readers will salute the quite literally death defying bravery of Samer in taking a stand against the terrorists. He shows that no matter how hopeless the situation, the simple act of bearing witness is one of the most powerful human responses available . . . The Raqqa Diaries is so important.”
“The book is beautifully produced . . . Everyone should spend a couple of hours of their life reading it, to remind themselves that, even in the darkest depth of human misery, the bravest souls still exist.”
“The fact that Samer was able, and indeed brave enough, to communicate with the outside world is an inspirational victory over bullies and oppressors. In the context of Islamic State’s brutality Samer’s quiet voice becomes a roar, a roar of defiance. His remarkably balanced account of terrible things and terrible times is the sound of civilisation. A clarion call to all of us that we should not give up. Somewhere there is a voice in the wreckage.”
“This should be compulsory reading for all who care about the horror of Syria. Especially those who control its fate.”
“Remarkable . . . We owe it to the author - and to all those who have died - to read his account of the evil cruelty of Daesh and the horrors of the Syrian civil war.”
“A powerful lesson in courage and humanity in the face of brutality and ignorance.”
“Reading the Raqqa diaries I felt I was walking Raqqa's streets with Samer, my heart pounding with fear. I finished the diary in tears . . . desperate for more news of this brave young man whom I have never met but whom I feel we've all let down.”
Emma Jane Kirby, author of THE OPTICIAN OF LAMPEDUSA
“[Samer] writes with shattering honesty [and] shows that no matter how hopeless the situation, the simple act of bearing witness is one of the most powerful human responses.”
“Brutal and essential.”
“The book’s novelty lies in Samer’s urgent perspective on the civil war.”
Times Literary Supplement
“Turn off that Twitter feed and ready something weighty, straight from the source. National Geographic Traveller- Summer picks”
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