When it comes to English-language podcasts about the Middle East, there is a dearth of content. There are almost no podcasts that have hosts from the region talking about issues, in their home countries. A few months ago, I wrote about one such podcast attempting to fill this void that is produced by seven Egyptian women and covers culture in Egypt. Just last week, another new podcast launched with the aim of discussing news, politics, and current events in the Middle East from a uniquely Syrian perspective.
“The Irrelevant Arabs” is co-hosted by two Syrians, Mustafa and Muftah writer, Loubna Mrie. Both Mustafa and Loubna believe it is important to elevate Syrian voices when it comes to issues affecting their home country. “When I came here in 2014, I was surprised that the debates about the Middle East in general, and Syria in particular are stuck in debating where the Americans are standing in this conflict and what the American role is in this part of the world,” Loubna says. “I was surprised that the suffering of the Syrian people is irrelevant.”
“We are trying to articulate our opinions on current events back home only to find our voices muffled by the mainstream media and its versions of our stories,” both hosts mention in their podcast description. Indeed, the first episode of the podcast takes a close look at what has become of Syria’s revolution. It features a conversation with Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, a longtime Syrian dissident and writer, on his new book, The Impossible Revolution, which looks at the Syrian revolution’s significance, as the country continues to grapple with the brutality of the Assad regime and the ongoing civil war.
In this first podcast, the co-hosts interviewed Saleh on his new book, but they also spend some time in conversation with one another. Loubna spoke about her experience singing nationalist chants glorifying the Assad family while a child in school, which Saleh used to explain how the Assad family established a fascist regime in Syria. After Mustafa mentioned how Syrian youth are often silenced by non-Syrian scholars and journalists when speaking about their experiences of the war, Saleh and his co-hosts spoke about their experiences with interacting with others, particularly writers and thinkers on the Left, who claim to know more about the situation in Syria than they do.
Listen to the full first episode of The Irrelevant Arabs’ podcast here: