Because “necessity is the mother of invention”, as the Arab saying goes, Syrians continue to devise creative and innovative solutions to the daily obstacles they face, despite extreme repression. Radio SouriaLi, formed by a group of young Syrians from diverse backgrounds, is one of the many projects and initiatives emerging from the need for expression and the attempt to reach out to all Syrians, regardless of their ethnic, intellectual and religious backgrounds.
The name “SouriaLi” comes from a play on the words “sourialia” (surrealism) and “Souria lee” (which translates to My Syria from Arabic) to combine awareness of Syria's chaotic present, that has become surreal, and the need for all Syrians to get involved in the building of their own Syria.
Souriali started broadcasting in October 2012 as an internet-based radio, in an attempt to bypass censorship and reach out to the largest number of Syrians, both within and outside the country, despite their limited resources.
The fact that the project is internet-based has not prevented those running it from facing constant challenges in order to continue to broadcast. Syrian authorities have repeatedly blocked their website inside Syria, including SouriaLi keywords on search engines, which has forced their audience to use circumvention technology to access their content. Additionally, as most of the SouriaLi team is within Syria, constant disruptions to power supply and internet connections make their daily work increasingly difficult.
None of the obstacles have stopped them from broadcasting. In the words of one of the founders:
“We speak so that we can breathe. We speak to everybody and we listen to everybody. We try to stay positive until the day comes when we become what we want to be.”
“We believe that our problem is that we don't listen to each other. Our message isn't aimed at any one group over others, rather we try to reach every Syrian heart and especially those of the so called “silent majority”.
The Souriali team tries to address all the different groups that form the fabric of Syrian society, and to draw attention to a diversity of issues – from art, culture and traditions to women's rights and the rights of minorities such as the Kurdish people.
SouriaLi is one of the many steps on Syria's path to its dream of a country respectful of justice, freedom, and fundamental human rights.