17th August 2020

In_pictures The many colours of Raqqa

In_pictures The many colours of Raqqa


Abood Hamam often risked death to send pictures of Syria’s war around the world. But no-one knew his name. Now he’s broken cover to celebrate the many colours of his native Raqqa.

The untold story of Abood Hamam, perhaps the only photojournalist to have worked under every major force in Syria’s war – and lived to tell the tale. At the start of the uprising he was head of photography for the state news agency, SANA, taking official shots of President Assad and his wife Asma by day – and secretly filming opposition attacks by night. Later he defected and returned to his home town, Raqqa, where various rebel groups were competing for control. Other journalists fled when the terrorists of so-called Islamic State (IS) took over, but Abood stayed – and was asked by IS to film its victory parade. He sent pictures of life under IS to agencies all over the world – using a pseudonym. As the bombing campaign by the anti-IS coalition intensified, Abood moved away – but returned later to record the heartbreaking destruction – but also the slow return of life, and colour, to the streets. For months, he roamed through the ruins with his camera, seeing himself as ”the guardian of the city.” Raqqa’s future is still very uncertain, but Abood now wants everyone to see his pictures, which he posts on Facebook, and know his real name. He hopes the colours he’s showing will tempt the thousands of families who’ve fled Raqqa to return home, and rebuild their lives, and their city.

Reporter: Tim Whewell

Producer: Mohamad Chreyteh

Sound mix: James Beard

Production coordinator: Gemma Ashman

Editor: Bridget Harney

(Image: Children running in Raqqa, 2019. Credit: Abood Hamam)


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