Powerful nations should stop supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime: Hala Mourad 

Powerful nations should stop supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime: Hala Mourad

Hala Mourad is prominent filmmaker originally from Greece. Her documentary films have touched the hearts of millions. Also a talented writer, poet and human right activist and a firm believer in global citizenship, Mourad, through her work has set an inspirational example for women across the Arab world.

In a short Skype interview with The Oslo Times International News Network, Mourad spoke about her films, the problems faced by refugees and a whole lot more.

The excerpts below takes us into the real life stories she has to tell:

Can you tell u a little about how you got into filmmaking?
I started my work in the media in Dubai, where I worked as a producer, did voiceovers in a program about journalists for the Al Arabia channel for nine years. After nine long years I made my first documentary film, ‘The Arab Greeks’, on Islamic immigrants from Greece.
Since my parents too were Greek Muslims who came to the middle east as asylum seekers, I felt this story if told to the world would have a lot of weight. I am originally from Crete, which is an Island that belongs to Greece so this is where I based my documentary film.
This was an important story and I had to tell it to the world. So, I bought a camera and began shooting it myself, I started, to shoot the film by myself, my work took me to Crete,Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt and it showed how people for centuries have been migrating to this region from the Middle East. The Arab Greek first premiered at the CMCA film festival in France, Marseille in 2010, where it gained a lot of appreciation for its bold and unique storyline. After the morale boost from the success of my first Documentary film, I began working on my second documentary film, which was based on the Pygmies. I find the Pygmies, have a very heart rendering story to tell and this movie focused entirely on them and their migration across central and North, East and West Africa and into the Middle East for a better life. The making of this film took me to Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.After I completed this documentary I sent it to Aljazeera and they appreciated it a lot so, they bought the rights for this documentary. I till date I have made five other documentaries for Aljazeera, all of which have been highly appreciated. So this is how it all began.

Has it been difficult for you as a woman filmmaker to work in the Arab world?

Yes, it has been difficult, there have been problems, because everyone of my documentaries touch very sensitive issues, so there have been times I have not been granted permission to a site that I want to shoot at. Jut to give you an example, when I was making my film ‘Cold Camp’, which ventured into the lives of innocent women and children who had been forced out of their homes during civil unrest in Syria and were forced to live in very dire conditions in refugee camps in countries neighboring countries, where they are living in sheer poverty and have no food, no sanitation they are forced to live in filth ,no blankets to keep them warm in winter and so many of them have succumbed to it. So many people die in such camps, because of the poor living conditions there. So you can just imagine how difficult it must have been to get shooting permission for such a film, the governments in the middle east and Syria do not like cameras and they always try to pose a problem for filmmakers like myself. There have been times where I have shot films without permission. They don’t even grant us Visa too easily, and they keep questioning our motive. However, despite all those problems I have been successful at making my films and it has been quite an adventure.

Can you tell us about why you are at this edition of the World Human Rights Forum?
Well, I am here because I have always defended human rights through my films and I have a story to tell, today. One of my Film’s about an inspirational Moroccan lady and social worker will be screened here today in about an hour or so. This film is about how she goes out of her way to help children growing up in jail with their education. So many youngsters have benefited from her efforts and have been able to sit for exams and pass board exams with flying colors. So, this is one of the reasons I am here. I have a very important story to tell.

What kind of problems do asylum seekers face in the countries they live in?
The one problem refugees across the world face is that they have no place to call home as they do not receive citizenship for the countries they are living in. For example I live in Lebanon but I don’t have a Lebanese citizenship, this always makes me different from everyone else as I will never get to enjoy the freedom and liberties enjoyed by the people in the same country I now call home. and, I am a foreigner in my own home. This is one problem all refugees in the Arab world and in other parts of the world face, you don’t have access to proper education, limited job scopes and so forth.So I truly feel this system of nationality should be scraped as we are all equal and we are all global citizens. I don’t think citizenship and nationality should be given such priority.

What do you have to say about the Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria?
This man is not human, so many Syrians have lost their lives, people who well educated and earned quite well have been forced to poverty due to the civil unrest. I think we face very serious problems in Syria as people have lost their families are living in refugee camps in extremely dire conditions, winter is now coming and these people are forced to live in the cold without proper clothing or bedding.I think the problem is far more serious than people think because I don’t believe that it is just Russia that supports this regime but I feel the United Sates Government and the Government of Israel are helping Assad through the back door and only act like they are against him in front of the public eye.I don’t know why Arabians and Syrians living in the Western world keep giving the situation in the middle east a cold shoulder. We are dying here yet our brothers and sisters look upon us with disdain and don’t even want to be associated with us. The only way we can overcome this problem in Syria is if the world stands united against this regime. People are being slaughtered here and the only justification the world has is that we are a war-torn zone, who created this war, who is fuelling it? isn’t it the countries in the west?

What do you have to say about the situation of women’s rights in this region?

Powerful nations should stop supporting Bashar al Assads regime:Hala Mourad

I personally think that only women can bring about an uprising to protect and uphold their rights, no one else will or can do it for them. And this applies to women in Saudi Arabia and across the Arab world. In fact I just want to add something here, before the war in Syria, Syrian women held good office positions, were independent and they enjoyed most of their rights, however the war has taken away everything from them, their jobs, their dignity, their family and freedom. They no longer have the life they used to have because of the war. What I find really difficult to understand is, what have our innocent women and children done to the western world, why is the world turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to their plights? Why this anger and hatred towards us? Our world is not just filled with terrorists, a lot of our people are innocent. We have families like everyone else, yet our plight for our rights is going unheard. Assad’s regime won’t fall until powerful countries like the USA, Russia, China and Israel stop supporting him and giving him protection.

As a working mom, what kind of example do you want to set for your children?
Well firstly, I have two kids Farah and Omar, these two are my life. And I really want them to become successful in their lives, so I am basically leading them through example and through my work, because I want them to be proud of their mother and understand the importance of having a thriving career. So whatever I am doing is for them, because I want them to understand the value of standing up on their own feet as I really want to give them the best life possible.

Last but not the least, do you have a message for all our readers, out there?
Well there is only one thing I want to say, we in the Middle East too are normal people with the same, dreams, hopes and aspirations as everyone else, so I truly wish everyone would join hands in saving us from this daily massacre. We deserve to live a normal life just as everyone across the world. If given an opportunity the women in the Arab world can do anything, they just need a chance to a normal life.There is one other thing I would like to say and that is Islam is not a religion of terror it preaches the message of peace, and these extremists like Daish believe in no God, they are doing all this for power. So my message to the world and especially to all the people who originate from the middle east is to join hands in whichever country you are in to group up and pressurize the governments there to listen to our plights and help free us from this never ending nightmare.

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  • The views and opinions published in this interview belong solely to the interviewee do not represent any view or opinion held by The Oslo Times International News Network. The Oslo Times practices, defends and promotes freedom of expression. The published interview is in accordance with Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.