CIJ Director James Harkin began his brilliant talk on his investigative work in Syria by playing a clip of an “incredibly courageous” revolutionary singer who performed at a demonstration and called out President of Syria Bashar al-Assad with the repeated lyrics “Get out Bashar”.

In a journey that took him from rural Syria to continental Europe for GQ, James Harkin tracked down the fake and then the real story of a daring revolutionary singer in Syria who either did or didn’t end up with his throat slit by government loyalists. The article narrates the singer’s story, and Harkin noted the courage for the singer to speak out publicly against the president and call him an ass.

Tragically, three days after the demonstration, the singer, Ibrahim Kadoush was thought to have had his throat slit and vocal cords cut out by government loyalists. However, Harkin notes “the legend took a life of its own”. The story of the singer chanting a demonstration was picked up by the BBC, Associated Press and CNN in “very detailed terms” on social media and from media reports from Beirut.


Harkin’s harrowing detective work fills us in painlessly on the tangled and deadly political allegiances protecting the regime.

Read his piece here.

Words by Molly Dowrick 

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