Harriton Discusses Civil War in Syria


Ty Nagvajara, Staff Writer

On March 15, 2019, Harriton hosted “The Crisis in Syria: Our Generation’s Never Again Moment,” a talk about the current issues in the Middle East, featuring guests Omar Alshogre and Mouaz Moustafa.

The event, which was organized by Harriton senior, Siobhan Daley-Gibson, and the WIA (Witness Inspire Act) Club, aimed to inform the audience about the civil war in Syria and the effects it has had on its citizens. The talk highlighted two guest speakers: Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, and Omar Alshogre, a survivor of the Syrian Civil War.

Moustafa was the first to speak, giving his perspective on the Syrian War and describing how the conflict began and why it was such a difficult topic. When describing the complexity of this issue, he said, “It’s hard to see who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.” At the conclusion of his speech, he introduced the second speaker, Omar Alshogre.

Alshogre, a survivor of the Syrian War, provided the audience with a “touching and heartfelt” story, according to Bala Cynwyd Middle School teacher, Ms. Bullitt.

Alshogre began his story with a description of his childhood and family, before telling how he was tortured and the difficulty he faced. According to Alshogre, “I could not handle the torture… I wanted paradise without pain.”

At the conclusion of the event, there was a “somber” yet “inspired” feeling that could be felt by audience members like Olivia Kim, a Harriton sophomore. Kim added, “I felt unsettled and thought it was deeply wrong that this had been going on.”

Kim, a member of the WIA club, went on to say, “I’m glad I took the time to be apart of this. It showed me how little effort it takes to make a huge impact.” Kim helped in the preparation of the event in the leading weeks, along with other WIA members and Siobhan Daley-Gibson.

When talking with Daley-Gibson, she gave an insight on what it was like coordinating the event. “It was a two part process. I had to nail down a date and secure the auditorium. The next, and hardest, part was getting people to come.”

She was determined to make the event a success, saying, “[W]e made sure to maximize the impact of everything we did.”

Although the effects of the event were meaningful to many, Daley-Gibson had her own hopes for what audience members would take away.

“This issue is important to me because I believe that people should not be tortured and killed for peacefully calling for freedom. I want people to educate themselves on what is going on in the world and understand that our silence is killing people. Everything we do to help, no matter how small, makes a difference,” Daley-Gibson, said.

Although Alshogre was able to escape his torture through the help of his mother, many Syrian civilians are not meeting this same fate. The conflict in Syria has been going on since 2011, coincidentally, the event being held. Under the Assad regime, the Syrian people have faced many changes in their lives.

The Syrian Civil War has caused many to flee their homes, creating a refugee crisis in the Middle East. According to Mercy Corps, more than 11 million Syrians have been forced to abandon their country and search for asylum. Additionally, there has been an estimated 500,000 casualties during this war.

Additional resources regarding the conflict may be found at  https://www.syriantaskforce.org/.