Ala’a Basetneh prefers pink. It predominates her attire and the décor of her suburban Chicago bedroom in the home she still shares with her parents. Even her fingernail tips are sometimes pink. But don’t let this deceive you. Basetneh is made of steel. Courageous, compassionate, composed, determined steel.
By age 19, as a college freshman and despite death threats, Basetneh was facilitating protests within Syria of its repressive regime – via social network from that quiet suburban pink bedroom, in between classes, during breaks from a full-time job. Since then she also has lobbied or worked with appropriate officials at the United Nations, White House, UNICEF and other international organizations. Basetneh even convinced her father to accompany her on two secret trips to Syria to deliver humanitarian aid.
Four years on, the protest continues. A full 75% of the people Basetneh has worked with in Syria have been killed – including a Fulbright Scholar journalist from Syracuse University, Bassel Al Shahade.
Mainstream media attention has moved on from the Syrian government’s atrocities against its own people to ISIS atrocities within Syria against the world.
Thanks to the Family of Women Film Festival at the Wilmette Theatre, which opened with this film and a Q&A with Basetneh, last night, a sold out North Shore audience was informed and inspired. Including me. When asked how we best could help, Basetnet’s answer was simple – and it reminded me how powerful your personal online voice can be.
“Please, just share our story – #freeSyria,” she said. “Your social network needs to know about the innocent Syrian children, women and other citizens being imprisoned, tortured, killed by their own government. When you share an online post about our struggles, we see and are inspired by this support.”
The Film Festival continues through the weekend with two more films I recommend to you too:
Saturday, April 11, 7 p.m.
“The Supreme Price”
Sunday, April 12, 2 p.m.
But, before you see these, please take a few moments to share your support online for Chicago’s own Ala’a Basetneh and those struggling for freedom and democracy in Syria:
On Twitter: #freeSyria
On Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/Ffree.Syriaa