I appeared at Edinburgh International Book Festival this year, talking about Goblins and outcasts, and I also had the honour of reading at one of EIBF’s Amnesty International events, focussing on Syria. I read an extract (below) from the song Haram by Refugees of Rap. If you would like to help, please support Amnesty’s important work by donating or joining, and you can find out more about Syria on their website.
Refugees of Rap are a rap group from Damascus who have been refugees in France since 2013. First formed in the Yarmouk refugee camp, their song Palestine and the Decision was number one on the official Arab world rap songs website, and it’s been downloaded by more than half a million people.
The band participated in the Mediterranean Hip Hop Gathering in Cairo, and were the first rap group to perform at the Damascus Opera House. The band has always addressed social issues with their songs; when they recorded protest songs supporting the beginning of the Syrian revolution their studios were stormed and ransacked.
They tell the story of Syria’s current situation through their lyrics and their music. Their song Haram (Sin), describes the bombardments and the horror they experienced living in the Yarmouk Camp in Syria.
I want freedom, I wrote it with a pencil, but I only found pain
Childhood thrown on the streets, destroyed houses, Haram
Haram, people drowning in worry, the sun no longer rises, the sky is swollen with clouds
I came out of the house and smelled the gunpowder
From the minaret, voices shouting “Go home”
A rain of shells fell on the neighbourhood
I almost died; I grazed the danger
I continued my way and death followed me
People yelling “Allah Akbar”
I saw the neighbourhood, its colour changed to red
The smell of blood and shreds of flesh scattered before my eyes
I ran to help my friend; he was wounded
Hospitals demanding blood and mosques screaming
The walls in the streets turned white
Covered by announcements of death; a black day
Haram, you’re stealing all my dreams
Haram, what I say and what I think is bothering you
Haram, you violated my freedom and my faith
Haram, you do not listen to me, you’re not listening