DAY 1 - MARCH 15, 2011


Emboldened by the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 11th and then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak one month later, political dissent starts to take hold amongst the Syrian youth. Nearly a dozen teenagers are arrested in the southern city of Daraa after spray painting: "the people want to topple the regime."  A Facebook page named "Syrian Revolution 2011" has surfaced, calling for a "Day of Rage" protest similar to the one that sparked the revolution in Egypt. Meanwhile, hoping to curb the escalating violence in Libya, the United Nations Security Council flirts with the idea of imposing a no-fly-zone over the government of long-standing Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi. There is an overall sense of promise in Syria, that, like those before them in the Arab Spring, their draconian president, Bashar Al Assad, will be expelled. 

Seventeen years old and the youngest of your father Ibrahim's three sons, you live with your family in Salaheddine, a city district of southwestern Aleppo. Since their beginnings, you have been following the protests in the Arab world very closely over social media. You saw when Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire in December of last year and you saw how six Egyptians set themselves alight less than four weeks later. It crosses your mind that Syria might be on the brink of something much bigger. The graffiti incident and its punishment seems emblematic of widening discontent among many civilians in your country. You, yourself, have seen the Mukhabarat instill fear throughout Aleppo and beyond. It's strange to think that many people in your city believe each other to be spies, that your neighbor could turn you in for nothing and that you could disappear in jail somewhere in the desert, potentially forever. At that moment your father comes into your room as you hear the adhan, the call to prayer, coming from the minaret of your mosque. Ibrahim and the rest of your family are very devout Sunni Muslims. You, however, have seen your piety wavering recently...