The Raqqa diaries : escape from 'Islamic State'
'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 TimesSince 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