The power of rap

Tariq Manar.
Tariq Manar.

During the Human rights, Human wrongs film festival in Oslo earlier this year, I watched a documentary called “On the bride’s side”. This is a “must see” if you are into human rights for refugees and asylum seekers. It tells the true story of Palestinian and Syrian refugees who have fled Syria by crossing the Mediterranean sea. The director, Gabriele Del Grande, coincidentally met a young man from Syria while enjoying a coffee on a café in Italy. The man asked him of the directions to the train that could take him to Sweden. The idea of creating the film began there. Gabriele and his friends created a plan to bring Palestinians and Syrians who were seeking refuge safely to Sweden in order to apply for asylum. They came up with the idea of arranging a wedding procession. Who would stop a bride and groom from crossing international borders… ? Gabriele and his friends arranged a “wedding” in spite of risking years of imprisonment, for their crime of human trafficking. Because, according to international law, this would be defined as a criminal offence. Per February this year they had not been charged with any crime.

Another member of the wedding process was Manar, a thirteen year old Palestinian boy who lived in Syria. The story of Manar could have ended in the Mediterranean sea. He could have drowned, as hundreds of people do every year during their attempt of crossing the sea and enter Europe. There is no humanitarian float to pick up people from overcrowded and poorly equipped boats that have capsized. They are “illegal immigrants”. Europe doesn’t want them. They are held accountable and responsible for having fled Syria, Libya or other failed states in the Middle East. The Syria that was is now shattered and in complete devastation. The Syria that is, I imagine, is as close as it gets to hell on earth. People are left with no choice other than leave their country to seek refuge to have a better chance of survival. People from Eritrea also attempt to cross international borders by sea, escaping from one of the most repressive regimes in the world. People either succeed, or die trying. Gabriele Del Grande is from my understanding the only person, let alone institution, that counts the heads of people who have perished in the Mediterranean. His blog is

Manar and his father succeeded at escaping Syria, and were granted asylum in Italy. According to the Dublin agreement, asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first state where they entered. Manar lives to tell his story, and he likes to do so through rap music – he is “MC Manar”.

The purpose of newly established UngXit is to facilitate self-expression for asylum seeking youth and children through creative activities. Music, dancing, drawing and painting are among our plans for activities for participants. In addition, building relations among youth and children as well as being physically active will be corner stones in our work. Currently we are applying for funding, and are planning to commence our work in August.




Author: silbra

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