Amer Matar (Foto: © Simone Ahrend, sah-photo)
The Syrian journalist and human rights activist Amer Matar was born in Raqqa in 1987 and studied journalism in Damascus. He co-founded the organization Al-Schari (The Street), which fought for freedom of the press and its development. Already in 2010, Al-Schari began to document the Syrian Uprising on film. The program was broadcast on Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and France24. Since 2002, he has been working as a journalist for numerous Syrian and Arabic newspapers. He was a correspondent for Al-Arabiya, wrote articles for the feature pages of the Lebanese newspaper Annahar, forbidden in Syria, and was a cultural correspondent for the newspaper Al-Hayat in Damascus. He has been interested in the relationship between art and the uprising movement in Syria, which he, in the beginning, was still able to call a peaceful revolution. The documentary film Azadi (2011) which was developed within the framework of Al-Schari follows the daily events of the Syrian Uprising in the Kurdish region of northern Syria. It won distinctions at the Rotterdam Film Festival. As co-director, Amer Matar was involved in the making of the documentary Smuggling 23 Minutes of Revolution (2011). In addition, he was also an organizer of the Street Festival, which celebrated the first anniversary of the Syrian Uprising. In 2011, he was twice arrested by the Syrian secret police because of his journalistic work; he was interrogated and tortured. He was accused of spreading false news and thereby undermining national morale. With the help of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, he was able to flee Syria in 2012. From October 2012 to September 2015, he has been a recipient of the PEN Writers in Exile fellowship. In his texts, he deals with the latest incidents in Syria and poignantly reflects on what it’s like being an exiled journalist. His texts have been translated into German in two anthologies: Syrien. Der schwierige Weg in die Freiheit (Syria. The Hard Road to Freedom, 2012) and Fremde Heimat. Texte aus dem Exil (Foreign Homeland. Texts from Exile, 2013). Since years, Amer Matar works with Al-Schari at the “Syrian Mobile Phone Festival“. In March 2017, one of his poems will be published in the German PEN anthology Zuflucht in Deutschland. Texte verfolgter Autoren (S. Fischer).