Interview with Siruan H. Hossein

Below you can find the original questions that we asked to Mr Hossein, founder of ARTA FM, and his responses, in their exact wording. Also check out the article, here.

C&B: When exactly was Arta FM established, by whom and with which goals in mind?

Siruan H. Hossein: ARTA FM first went on Air on July 6th 2013 in Amuda in the Syrian province of al-Hasaka. I founded the radio station after I had trained a team made up of Kurds, Arabs and Syriac (Syrian christian) people . The idea behind ARTA is to give the people of Northern Syria, all of them, a voice. Never before in Syria´s recent history has there been a local media outlet in the Kurdish regions. ARTA FM shall function as a bridge between the different ethnical and religious groups in the region. Therefore tolerance, respect and mutual recognition are very important values at ARTA. We do not talk about minorities and majorities, we just report about the citizens of a common region. The region´s problems can only be solved successfully if the different groups work together. Multiculturalism means enrichment, not potential danger.
For the first time in Syria´s history there is a radio station that maintains a trilingual service. A radio-station whose only agenda is not having any political or religious agenda. We are neither pro-Opposition nor do we actively fight the regime. ARTA FM is not a Kurdish station either. It is simply the station of all people in the region.

C&B: How do you practically organize the trilinguality of your programs?

Hossein: We have two editorial teams: one for Kurdish and one for Arab content. Additionally a team in Qamishly produces two hours of program in Syriac, the language of the Christian communities in that region. Our editorial teams are interconnected, so that they can profit from each other´s work.
We will add some Armenian programs this year, and we are planning for even more languages, like some Assyrian dialects.

C&B: What’s the ratio between informational and entertainment (music) programs?

Hossein: ARTA FM is a radio station for the whole family. Our daily broadcast usually amounts up to 15 hours, five of which are live. There are about 20 regularly, weekly programs. Music makes up less than half of our broadcast.

C&B: You first worked as a radio journalist at the German radio station WDR. How has your time at the WDR influenced you?

Hossein: I started working for the WDR´s Funkhaus Europa in 2005. At first I was a freelancer for their weekly Kurdish program. Later on I started producing more and more contents for the German programs as well.
I got my professional training as a radio journalist during the time at WDR. The idea of a multilingual radio station originated from that time. I especially appreciated that the different programs were produced and presented by native speakers of the respective languages. I took this concept with me to Syria when I founded ARTA FM in 2013.

C&B: How has the advance of ISIL complicated your work? What is your personal impression of the larger political/military situation at the moment?

Hossein: We are broadcasting from four different cities at the moment: Amuda, Qamishly, al-Malikiya (Kurdish: Dêrik) und Ras al-Ayn (Kurdish: Serê Kaniyê). We used to broadcast from Kobani as well. But at first the local Kurdish government prohibited ARTA from broadcasting in this sensible area; later, with the advance of ISIL, it became too dangerous to go back. The situation in the other cities is relatively safe, although ISIL is still very close. The fighting can reach us at every moment because ISIL is an unpredictable force. Still our region is the safest for journalists in all of Syria at the moment.

C&B: From the perspective of your listeners: What do they expect from the International Community and what is their perception of Turkey’s role?

Hossein: The people in our broadcasting region hope that the international alliance against ISIL will be reinforced, especially in a decisive military manner. We expect of Turkey to lift its blockade so that people can enter Turkey legally. The region is encircled: ISIL, the Assad regime and the Turkish and Iraqi borders. There is no escape.

C&B: And on a personal note: How would you like Syria to look like once this horrible war is over?

Hossein: I want to live in a Syria that is free of oppression and discrimination of any kind. The same rights and responsibilities should be valid for everybody, while minorities should enjoy special protection. The people here are sick of dictatorship. They want to live in order and peace. And even though it will be a long and tough way until then, I think we can reach that goal. I want to live in Syria forever and give Syrians a voice.

C&B: Thank you for the Interview.

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