Boy from Raqqa uses art to highlight life during war in his city


Haidar Hamo, a young Syrian from Raqqa is using art to highlight his experiences during the war in his city. One of the paintings drawn by Haidar depicts the people of Raqqa who fled from the tyranny of ISIS.

In the city of Raqqa, artists, and authors have begun using their skills to highlight how their lives were affected by ISIS’ control and the operations to rid the city from them. Haider Hamo is a young artist from the city who lived in Saudi Arabia when he was young and returned to Raqqa to witness the ISIS invasion and the war to liberate his city. He now paints scenes and portraits from the war.

“I came to Raqqa and witnessed the entire war,” said Haider, the young painter. “One of these paintings shows the people of Raqqa who fled the city because of ISIS.

According to Haider, his father Juma Hamo taught him to paint when he was about six years old. From there, he took up sculpting and carving as well. 
“I drew 11 paintings and carved six sculptures. My father taught me drawing and sculpting, he used to tell me whether my paintings were right or wrong,” said Haider. Before ISIS’ invasion, Haider had painted and sculpted many pieces, which were displaced in the Taha Gallery, inside the city.

However, soon after the invasion, the gallery administrators took his artwork and fled to Turkey. Despite these losses, Haider continues to document ISIS’ crimes through painting and sculpting.

Since the military defeat of ISIS in many of the cities that they formerly used to control, artists from Iraq and Syria have attempted to reveal the brutality and cruelty of the militant organisation through paintings, books, and films.

In the city of al-Bab, a former ISIS prisoner, Khalifa al-Khudr authored a book which details the group’s crimes against the residents of the city of al-Bab, Raqqa, and Aleppo. The young author who was imprisoned by ISIS also hosts a television show in which he discusses the issues that the people of Syria face post-ISIS.

It is crucial that the efforts of these individuals are supported and shared so that ISIS’ violations and atrocities are documented for future generations. Such art forms are also crucial in informing the youth of ISIS’ crimes in order to prevent further radicalisation and recruitment.