The Fifth Estate: Kassem Eid: My Country
In 2013, Kassem Eid narrowly escaped death when Bashar al-Assad’s government unleashed a now-infamous sarin gas attack on Ghouta, Syria. It wasn’t just sarin: the area was also bombarded by mortar fire. At least 1500 people died. Eid didn’t, but the devastating assault irreversibly injured his community and upended his life.
Since its beginnings during the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, the war has claimed tens (some say hundreds) of thousands of lives. It has made refugees of more than ten million people, including Eid – an activist and journalist, himself born to Palestinian refugee parents.
In this session, the author of My Country: A Syrian Memoir speaks with Sally Warhaft about his life, the history of the conflict and how he understands the prospect of it ending. They discuss the Syria he grew up in, the Syria he fought for, and the Syria the world abandoned.
Kassem Eid's visit was supported by Goethe Institut Australia.
Kassem Eid is a Palestinian–Syrian rebel and human rights activist. In 2014 he went on a speaking tour across the United States and testified before the United Nations Security Council. He has contributed to the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, and was interviewed on 60 Minutes. He is currently a refugee living in Europe.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.
Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.