‘Right now, people who are involved in nonviolent activism in Syria are mainly having to do two things: relief work, to deal with the catastrophic levels of humanitarian disaster and then underground civil resistance, like newspapers, news agencies, schools, hospitals and clinics,’ Mohja Kahf told Peace News in March.
Kahf, a member of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement (SNVM), was born in Syria but grew up in the United States, where she is now an associate professor of Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arkansas.
‘What [the newspapers, for instance,] do is that they help build and construct a free press for future Syria, so they will have a long-term impact,’ Kahf said. Schools supported by SNVM aim to educate displaced children not accepted at government schools.
Nonviolent civil society efforts, as a whole, work towards ensuring there is a viable future for Syria when fighting ends.
SNVM is an organisation operating inside and outside Syria as part of the larger nonviolent phenomenon of the revolution. While international media have largely focused on the armed components to the revolution, the revolution itself began peacefully and Kahf believes will return to this route soon.
‘I think the armed struggle [in Syria] has clearly revealed itself to have failed, even if some of its components don’t seem to know that yet,’ Mohja Kahf said. ‘I think there is a regrouping among the civil resistance camp and I think it is going to be the way forward.’