Nowhere, a story of exile

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Before the chapter ends, allegro changes to andante.

After the French radio program is switched off, they hear the nonagenarian rumble of a Hebrew prayer. Aciman writes of the intimate friendship and rivalry between his two grandmothers, who lived across the street from each other.

“Nowhere, A Story of Exile” book on Armenian massacres in Baku presented

Between their husbands it was pure rivalry. Albert, who came from Turkey, despised Jacques, who was socially less distinguished and came from Syria. Alexandria was a place where four aristocracies--British, Greek, Egyptian, Sephardic--could live side by side, each entirely assured of its own distinction. The quarrels are Wagnerian.

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No curse like an Alexandrian curse. There is the scene in which Great-Uncle Isaac, a man of courtly elegance, loses control of his bowels when the police arrive to take him for questioning.

It is tragic in its own way, though not in the way of a holocaust; not-quite-dead connections are invoked, money--though by no means all of it--changes hands, and Isaac is soon living comfortably in France. Beneath the histrionics and the pain is the remembered sweetness. There is the near-paradise of summers spent at a seaside villa, and the figure of an endearingly ungainly Italian who instills in the boy a love of poetry and Greek. Sand has obliterated a year Alexandrian garden; or would have if Aciman had not restored it in the grace of language and memory.

About Us. Brand Publishing. But writing novels can turn people into mini-experts on particular subjects for about five minutes, and so I had to break the news to her that the official wording on Pakistan government websites, which I had looked up just that week, said that POC holders could acquire Pakistani passports; that would make him a dual national, and therefore in a position to be deprived of his British citizenship. But if the Pakistan government re-instates the old wording, it all changes again.

This is both Kafkaesque and Orwellian. But in order to get there, we first need to grasp that at no point in the process of becoming a British citizen does any piece of documentation signal to you that your citizenship is contingent, that the equality of all citizens is a myth. A great many people in Britain were shocked by the Windrush scandal.

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The stories of people from the Windrush generation being deported from the UK on the flimsiest technicality were certainly distressing, but not in the least bit surprising. Prior to the story breaking, those of us who were personally invested in the rhetoric around citizenship and migration knew that we had, for several years, been living in a country obsessed with cutting its migrant numbers and prepared to be entirely heartless in the way it went about achieving that. In , an additional clause was added to the citizenship laws.

The deprivation powers were not used in a single case from to February The chilling new legislation that was introduced included the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of , which came into effect the following year. In other words, it was no longer only naturalised citizens who could be stripped of citizenship — now even the British-born fell under the deprivation powers provided they had a second nationality. And this is why I had to have the conversation with my friend about her son.

Some of you may remember it. Mahdi Hashi came to the UK at the age of five with his parents from Somalia. They were granted asylum and a few years later became British citizens. He was also Somali born and a practising Muslim. In , he was one of five Muslim men who went public with claims that MI5 was trying to blackmail them into becoming informers.

He was 19 at the time. What we do know is that in he made public these claims against MI5; we also know that in his family told their local MP Frank Dobson and the investigatory powers tribunal, the body that oversees MI5, that Hashi was being harassed by security officers. In addition, we know that he was never charged with any crime in the UK, though by there was no shortage of anti-terror legislation.

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Later in , Hashi moved to Somalia. He said he went to look after his sick grandmother, with whom he lived when he arrived there, though his family also claims that the harassment he was facing in the UK made him want to leave. He was to be stripped of his citizenship on the grounds that he was involved in Islamic extremism. And then things took a particularly bizarre turn. The parents received a call from someone in the world of officialdom — probably MI5 — asking if Hashi had received the letter.

The official said he had 28 days to appeal the decision, so they should call him immediately to let him know what was happening and give him time to appeal at the nearest British consulate. They called him. His father told him to go to the British consulate. He said Hashi must get to the nearest consulate. So, in an attempt to do just that, he crossed into Djibouti, where he was promptly arrested by local security services.

Now he was stateless, with no access to consular services. He was put in a cell, without court process or access to advice. Here he was treated badly, held in incommunicado detention for three months, during which time he was interrogated at length by CIA officials. Most of the staff had no prior training in radio journalism before joining Alwan.

He moved to Istanbul to work at Alwan full time after working for the station remotely. Sami tells me that there are no official statistics on how many people the station reaches inside Syria, and the war means that people are constantly moving, but the frequency number of calls from listeners on a daily basis has been deeply heartening for the team. In its early days, al-Qadour did all the broadcasting via an FM transmitter fixed to the top of a truck that traveled around the city covering updates on the war.

Al-Qadour now works in the U. I helped Ahmad out online from Dubai, but after three months I decided to quit my job and work full time for the station. Can you imagine—they had a problem with children singing! A major confrontation in Idlib was averted thanks to the resulting public outcry. That lasted until March , when a group of masked men—no one knows who they were or who sent them—stormed the Aleppo office, beat up some of the staff members and took away their equipment.

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Since then, Alwan has not been able to re-establish operations there. It is a little surreal: Next door, two staff members on break cook in the kitchen and have what sounds like a mirthful conversation in Arabic. A typical day at Alwan begins at 6 a. The team convenes once a week to discuss the development of their programs, and are in touch with their correspondents in Syria on a daily basis on Viber and Skype.

Just a few weeks after I met Sami and the rest of his team, the U.

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What Alwan does is a form of guerrilla radio. Sami says that after years of war, there is no longer a regulatory authority within Syria for radio broadcasting, so their programs can be received anywhere in the country there is an FM signal. Alwan also shares information with a network of other Syrian radio stations working both within the country and in exile, notably Arta FM, which broadcasts into Kurdish Syria, an area recently liberated from ISIS.

A Radio Alwan news briefing. Sami is especially proud of Oh, Grandma , a program presented by a woman from Idlib who is identified by her initial, N. She has a day job as a teacher, but in her role at Alwan, she visits the houses of women in the city and interviews them about their lives, their daily struggles, and discusses salient issues with them, such as the legal age for marriage for Syrian women.