Journalist and author Khaled Alesmael says he has become the primary Syrian to jot down what he calls a homosexual Syrian novel after fleeing the civil conflict at home. The novel “Selamlik,” published via the Swedish Leopard Förlag press, tells the story of two men’s love amid the bombed-out buildings of civil struggle Damascus. “Nobody desired to touch this problem for several reasons. These topics aren’t properly received in society, and at the same time, homosexuality is forbidden by using religion and custom. It’s taken into consideration a splendid shame to be homosexual. This kind of thing gets its proportion of grievance inside the media, too. Homosexuals can face prison sentences from six months to 2 years,” Alesmael said.
The story of the unconventional’s hero, Furat, and his journey from conflict-torn Syria to Sweden as a refugee parallels the writer’s very own existence. But he stresses this is a piece of fiction, no longer an autobiography. “In fact, in the beginning, I picked up my pen to inform about my personal life and commenced taking notes. I began in Arabic. However, I later changed to English out of worry a person might get keep of it, and I’d be punished via the regime (of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad). As the story advanced, Furat took shape, and I chose him as the principal person,” Alesmael stated.
“The name comes from the Arabic phrase that means the desire for alternate and freedom. Furat is stronger than I am. In a sense, he’s the individual I want to be. He’s able to revel in his sexuality and talk about it freely. He’s a revolutionary,” he said. This does now not imply Alesmael’s very own life story and achievements are something to be scoffed at. He describes his first foray into journalism at the age of 9, whilst he took component in a radio display to describe youngsters’ wishes.
His love for the radio continued, and in 2005 he became a founding member and program director at Syria-Tomorrow, one of us of a’s first-generation non-public radio stations. He would later be discouraged from taking too energetic a role within the media due to the tight regulations imposed via the Assad government.
The author found his very own sexuality while he changed into analyzing English language and literature in Damascus, and via writing approximately his studies, he is setting on paper records that until now had remained best a spoken one. When the war made it impossible for him to stay in his domestic us, he migrated to Sweden, staying for a while in a refugee center inside the metropolis of Åseda.
“I got here to Sweden a good way to experience safer and extra loose. But when I came to the refugee home, I found myself repeatedly within the equal network. It becomes a painful period, but unique, at the same time,” he said. “I left four years ago, and now and then, I nevertheless omit it. I pass over the connection between the humans at home; I suppose I have to have carried out extra even as I become there. I tried to elevate the challenge of homosexuality on every occasion I should, and attempted very tough to make people admire it even though they couldn’t accept it,” the writer continued.
“It is tough to sleep inside the equal room as a homophobic individual. But I understand them, too; we (Syrians) don’t have a great deal of know-how approximately this subject matter, we don’t have literature on it, and we don’t speak a lot with each other approximately sex. Even my women friends don’t recognize an awful lot approximately periods or approximately sexual fitness,” he said.
It turned into within the town of Goetheberg that “Selamlik” first started to take shape after Alesmael met a publishing editor whilst giving talks on warzone journalism. “He became interested in what I’d written. So later, I chose several chapters, translated them to English, and sent them to him. He helped me get these chapters posted as brief memories in a few different journals and newspapers,” said the author. Before long, the publisher had organized for a translator to translate the book from Arabic to Swedish.
Once his e-book had come collectively, opinions in Sweden had been top-notch: it became featured in some newspapers and magazines and advocated by writers. “I’ve been invited to speak on television and at meetings. People are curious – particularly in the West, they need to realize what takes place inside the east, how human beings live their lives, and what is going on at the back of closed doors,” Alesmael stated.
It changed into not usually easy to tell readers his tale within the manner Alesmael wanted: the writer felt that Arabic held a richness of expression that he did no longer locate in Swedish, and stated he often struggled to find words and methods within the translation to relate his relationships in a manner that did justice to the authentic, regularly opting for brief sentences to ease the technique.