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Syrians Portraits: "Why go to Armenia when we are at home here?"

April 8 category:Middle East
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Syrians Portraits: "Why go to Armenia when we are at home here?"

Raqqa. Christians and Muslims live in harmony as evidenced by this mixed Cemetery, Christian and Muslim.


Raqqa, a large city in northern Syria, administered since March by the rebellion. Our special correspondent met some of the people who testify on their daily lives at the time of the jihadist power. For a week, L'Express delivers you these slices of life. Today, an Armenian.

Araxi receives his guests in the late afternoon on a beautiful terrace on the second floor of a house in the center of Raqqa. Two girls take turns with coffee trays, tea and pomegranate syrup. They returned all three, there a few days of Latakia. "I hope to stay this time," he said, without seeming to complain, the elegant widow fifties with dyed blonde hair. She made several trips back over the last six months between the major coastal city, less than 200 km, well controlled by the forces of Bashar al-Assad and his native Raqqa, fell to the rebels in March. Like most of the Armenians, who are among the first inhabitants of this ancient town, which became the provincial capital, it was down as a precaution with his family "waiting to see ... it is the fate of all Syrians today ' hui. "

She has not had time to go to the pharmacy she held with her eldest son, 27, remained in Latakia. The family business, opened by his father in the 1960s, is now managed by an employee. "He does what he wants, anyway, with drug shortages and depletion of clients, we can no longer rely on the income from the dispensary," observed the lady that the hardware survival problems seem to worry. It can count on the savings amassed during years of working alongside her husband first, then only waiting for his son to be a graduate of the University of Aleppo.

"Armenians were the first and only time traders and craftsmen in Raqqa," recalls Araxi whose family, like hundreds of others, took refuge in the city after the 1915 massacres in Turkey. She launches into the familiar narrative memories of harmonious coexistence between communities over a century. "When I was a child, our house was communicating with that of our Muslim neighbors by the patio window. Since we had a real bath with oil heater, my mother washed us to the chain with five children neighbors passing by the window. During Ramadan, we ate light in the day to be able to share with our friends the meal breaking the fast while during the period of our Lenten dishes of our specialties lean out the window they passed their . "

Araxi still rejects the idea of ​​leaving Raqqa: "Many of our friends left in Armenia Just go sit the embassy in Beirut for a passport but why go there when we are in.. here. Especially as the standard of living is still lower than in Syria after two years of war. "

A few days later, the main church of Raqqa was attacked by extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that hold the city. Araxi and her daughters had to start from Lataquié. "Waiting ..."

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