Idlib Calling: Are you OK in Utrecht?

March 20, 2019

Tuesday, March 19

Utrecht. Monday morning at 10:45 AM. The news comes in — a man has shot and killed three people on a tram here in Utrecht, just a few kilometers from PAX as the crow flies. The news travels fast – concerned friends from Iraq, Lebanon and Syria contact us straight away to make sure we’re alright. I see that I have a voice-mail message from Ahmed:

“Hello, is everything alright? We heard some disturbing news from your country. I hope you’re safe, and also your family and friends. I hope this will all stop someday. Take care of yourself”

For a moment I am speechless. Then I call Ahmed to thank him for his concern.

“Hi Ahmed, thank you for your message. It’s quiet here now, but we don’t know yet exactly why the guy shot those people. ”

“I see. When we heard about it, we were shocked. It may sound strange to hear that from someone in Syria. Here, unfortunately, we’ve gotten used to it. But it reminded me of eight years ago, when people were killed here for the first time. I remember exactly how that felt, and now something like this is happening to you … ”

“So they’ve caught him? The law deal with him now? That’s good news, al-hamdullilah (thank God).”

Postscript: Ahmed is trying to get on with his life again following the attack on his house a week ago Sunday. The house is currently uninhabitable — he and his family are staying with relatives. Fortunately, the bombing of Saraqeb has gotten less intense in the last few days.

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