As President Trump persists in defending his ‘Muslim’ travel ban, and Brexit negotiations plug on – driven as they have been by concerns over immigration – Sarah had a chat with a Syrian friend* who recently applied for, and has been granted asylum in the UK. The friend was still living in her home city of Damascus when civil war broke out in Syria in March 2011. Witness to the war’s escalation, she decided to travel to the UK to study humanitarian issues, hoping to be able to return home when the conflict was over armed with knowledge and skills that would be useful in the post-war rebuild. However, driven by the ruling Assad regime, combat continues to decimate the country, and has triggered one of the largest humanitarian refugee crises the world has seen. Our interviewee is still waiting for her opportunity.
Ahmad Matar has been doing parkour in the Gaza Strip since he was 10 years old. Now 20, he was inspired to try the extreme sport – which sees participants acrobatically traverse physical obstacles using no additional aids or equipment – by his friends Abdullah Anshasi and Muhammed Aljkhbeir, who introduced parkour to the Palestinian territory after watching the documentary Jump London online. Enamoured by their early attempts and videos, Ahmad joined them as one of 12 founding members of Gaza Parkour in 2005. Despite the difficulties presented by living in a place* other people’s conflicts have reduced largely to rubble, the collective hold tight to their dream of bringing hope to Gaza through a sport that, as Ahmad explains here to Sarah, makes them feel truly free.