The Winter

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This film narrates the devastating social and educational impact of Takfiri terrorist attacks and their ideology on the Syrian people and children.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

On screen: “Palestine

Right to go back

Paternal home


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SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Students at school: “O Husayn!



O Husayn!


O Husayn!





On your place!

The allowed time to do the salute.

To your place, ready to march to the flag.

Guardians of the country, we salute you.

Our proud spirit will not be despised.

The maternal Earth is a chaste home.

The high rank of the stars is a safe and inaccessible refuge for you.

Our lives are honored, and our past is glorious.

Surly, spirited brave men are our mighty guardians.

Bravery is ours, and ours is manliness.

So why shouldn’t we be victorious and flourishing?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Heydar Saleh, Principal of Her Highness’s Zeynab Primary School: “My name is Heydar Saleh; I am the principal of Her Highness’s Zeynab Primary School. I am originally from Palestine, from the Ghaza Sefr region. I studied in Syria and grew up there; and lived there my entire life.My father, along with a large number of Palestinian captives, sought refuge in Syria, and we were destined to reside in the Zeynabia region.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Khaled Mohammed Yussef: “I have returned from the front just recently. When I got dispatched to the front, my family worried a great deal for me. But there are things that matter more, such as Hussein’s and other Martyrs’ souls. We have to continue their way. And to bear up is more important than the family; bearing up in general, whether it is in Syria or in Palestine. We bear up and fight for the sake of the Martyrs; in order to prevent others’ aggression against our families.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

CONVERSATION [Arabic] Khaled Mohammed Yussef & his families:

“-Come inside your dad’s arms”

-Oh my God.

-How are you dear?

-How are you my daughter?

-Play with her.

-Play with each other.

-Dady’s honey.

-Which her feet.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Heydar Saleh, Principal of Her Highness’s Zeynab Primary School: “I studied Arabic, and taught it for many years until I became the school principal. This school was inoperative for a long time due to the missiles that hit it, launched by the terrorists, from regions under their control. The Syrian educational system was more advanced than the other Arabic countries. But in this cruel war, due to the Takfiri’s excommunicative way of thinking, a dreadful influence was imposed on the minds of students at all academic levels, and some of them were affected by those imposed thoughts.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Student: “The memories of it enter my mind and remain in my thoughts.It is beautiful and I love it. It is called Shaam. The memories of it enters my mind and remain in my thoughts. It is beautiful and I love it. It is called Shaam.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Khaled Mohammed Yussef: “My name is Khaled, Khaled Mohammed Yussef, I was born in 1981, I live in disunity of Lady Zeynab sanctuary, I am originally from Salehiya in Palestine. We are Palestinian refugees… we sought refuge here before I was born. Of course it was because of the enemy - the Zio nist regime, which is killing off the people. Thus we sought refuge in Syria.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Basmeh Mohammed Yussef: “Please give me some of that, Mom… Mom… Give me some of it. I am Basmeh Mohammed Yussef, born 1983. My family took refuge in 1949. I am sister to two martyred brothers, Bassem Yussef and Hussein Yussef, and also widow to the Martyred Mahmud Ahmad Zaher. Bassem was very kind. All my brothers are kind, but Bassem used to understand me better than the others. If something were to disturb me, he was the first one to take notice of it. Bassem used to be my husband’s intimate friend, too. Even as a child he used to come to see us and he would never lose contact. He was very friendly, and if ever I was annoyed he would be the first person to see it. Bassem was very kind… Bassem was very calm.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Basmeh Mohammed Yussef: “When they send Khaled on a mission I get very worried because two of my brothers have been martyred and I am afraid that I might hear one day that my third brother has been martyred, too. Therefore, when I hear that he has been sent on a mission I get worried. I constantly ask my mother “What has happened to Khaled? Where is he right now?” and I am constantly on my mobile phone calling to find out where he is. I am very anxious for him… for him and many other young men that I know such as my nephew and my other brothers who are also soldiers.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Sahar Mohammed Hassan: “My name is Sahar Mohammed Hassan, from Jolan - originally Syrian. Wife of Bassem Mohammed Yussef, mother of three, two boys, and a daughter…Right now I am living just to the east of Seyedeh Zeynab’s shrine. After I finished my studies at bachelor degree level, I got married to the Martyred Bassem in an old camp.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Martyre’s cousin: “Hussein was my cousin - my Aunt’s son. He asked me to marry him. Our relationship was no deeper than mere greetings to each other, although he was my cousin… They came as suitors. But I hesitated because I was studying for my bachelor’s degree. However, it always pleased me to see him. Nevertheless, I told my mother that I wanted to continue my studies. My mother said that they are a decent family and his mother is your aunt.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Sahar Mohammed Hassan: “We had that experience… my husband got martyred.. my brother Hussein and Bassem got martyred too; many in our family, including cousins on both my mother’s and my father’s sides were martyred. That is why, when Nabil and Khaled and my sister’s son Salman go on a mission, I get very worried.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Heydar Saleh, principal of Her Highness’s Zeynab Primary School: “Have no mercy, neither on the young nor on the old and white-haired. Alas, for the dawn in which I wake up, moaning and lamenting, In which I pray to the almighty, Urging him to free me from this pain; since he is the hope of the hopeless, He is the God of heaven and Earth, and my only hope in life. Alas, for having lived in exile in a foreign land; with no one knowing who you are and you answer my question in your solitude, but…Alas… wish those days would be back…”

Let’s sing the poem that brings joy to Syrian children, the “Toot, Toot” poem…God keeps those who wish goodness and happiness for this country. Why don’t you come and sit by our side? No, I don’t want to intrude. It is absolutely not the case, please come.

-Mohammad Islam is shy. Yes, Mohammad Islam and Mohammad Nour are nit normal. Mohammad Islam doesn’t answer me

You brought up an interesting point. In fact, we are always reminding our children of Palestine. We tell them that it is true that we live in a beautiful country to which we owe a lot. But we have a home land called Palestine, either in the form of a poem or a song or something else that can teach a child about his or her homeland. We encourage him to write because Palestine should be alive in their hearts, minds and conscience. We have learned the love for Palestine from our fathers, and we teach it to our children. In fact, Palestine doesn’t belong only to Palestinians, but to the entire Muslim world. My father used to live in Palestine, he was a farmer. My grandfather used to hunt. Whenever our family gathers we narrate the stories that my father and grandfather once told.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Khaled Mohammed Yussef: “Here we don’t have a home, we live in a hotel. They could throw us out whenever they want. We can’t stay in the streets, can we? Our house was destroyed by a car bomb that went off near to it. The armed forces of the Al Nusra Front and its followers, such as the Saudis, United States and Israel. Strangers invaded us, backed, of course by America and Israel; which caused some other countries such as Turkey to also interfere in our affairs. They want to dominate us, and they are responsible for the destruction and the ruin in Syria.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Khaled’s sister: “Where is dad? Where is dad?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohamed Taha Ma’toob, Student: “I am Mohamed Taha Ma’toob, a sixth grade student. I am Palestinian. Palestine is well known for its citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges, and also for its olives. Would you like to return to Palestine? Yes, at the time that it is freed. If I had the capability, I would free it.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Teacher at Class: “A man breaks his promise; another man sells out a noble man, and spends the money; and yet another man hires a laborer, makes him work hard and fails to pay his wage.

Kids! Keep in step with me.

God said: “I have three enemies… “

What does enemy mean?

- Fine, tell me.

- If we have made a promise to God, do we have the right to break that promise?

Why? All of you, answer!”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Sahar Mohammed Hassan: “Before the war, we used to live our lives ordinarily. Thank God we still do, but before the war the conditions for me and the students were better and easier. The educational process was in working order. Later, due to the unfavorable conditions, many of the students were deprived of education and so they fell behind. Therefore, we are trying to repeat the previous courses as well as teaching the new ones.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohamed Taha Ma’toob, Student: “We will rebuild the homes to our fathers and our ancestors; and we will rebuild Palestine and make it the most beautiful country in the world. Who drove your ancestors from their homes?

The enemy… Israel… to colonize Palestine, and Jerusalem al-Quds.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Heydar Saleh, Principal of Her Highness’s Zeynab Primary School: “I remember well, in the early 2011 – 2012 school year; it was the beginning of some events, and the crisis was developing very badly, having a negative mental impact on all the students.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Sahar Mohammed Hassan: “We try to create a decent atmosphere, provide their lives with some color, and uplift their spirits. War had a negative effect on them, but we try our best to keep our spirits high because lack of spirit would influence the students directly. God willing, we will prevail over these conditions and improve our lives.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Heydar Saleh, Principal of Her Highness’s Zeynab Primary School: “Demonstrations took place when the schools were closed, and we saw some adults standing alongside students of the fifth and sixth grades, spurring them on and encouraging them to demonstrate. People with Takfiri, excommunicative ways of thinking, who would try to deviate the thoughts of the students, people known for their evil thoughts. Educational centers are the foundation of every society.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Khaled’s sister: “This was our home, where we grew up. Terrorist groups blew it up and destroyed it. As you see, they buried all our childhood under the debris. This house held a lot of memories for us. We were seven sisters and brothers; and with two of us being martyred, five have remained. All of our memories were in this home.I and Bassem were almost the same age…… That is why I share so many memories with him.

We will definitely rebuild our home at the end of the war, the five of us remaining; and we will have a lot of new memories in it; although a great grief will weigh upon our hearts.

With the loss of Hussein, Bassem and our father, our happiness will never be complete. But we will definitely renew our home; because we will have to continue living naturally for the sake of my nephews. Our family should live here just like before. We should continue our social life, though it would never resemble the past.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Khaled’s Mother: “Khaled! When you leave on a mission, I worry a lot for you; take care of yourself. God willing nothing will happen to you and God will protect you, my son. Cover yourself well so as not to catch cold.

-Dear Mother, whatever God has predestined will happen; just pray for me.

-I submit to God’s consent.

-You know that your prayers will be accepted. If I am martyred, it will definitely be God’s will.

-May God protect you, and right the situation in Syria, and improve it, and uproot the Takfiris. God willing, our problems will be resolved.

Hopefully nothing will happen; but if God has destined me to be martyred, we’ll have to submit to his will.”

TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Khaled’s Sister: “-Mother, don’t worry so much, God will take care of him. Why are you so sad and are constantly asking Sahar or Ala’ to get in touch with Khaled. He will be safe and healthy as long as God wills it. And if he is martyred like his brothers Hussein and Bassem, it would be God’s will. You have diabetes; you shouldn’t worry so much for Nabil and Khaled. Pray for God to look after them and for the situation in our country to become peaceful like it was in the past.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Khaled Mohammed Yussef: “I wish the calendar would go back in time and the morning sun rose again. Back to our childhood when we used to chase after butterflies; wish we had stayed as children; and never grow up. And we would have spent the days, the nights and the seasons the same as before. And we would never have been aware of the terror our enemies had brought us. I wish we had remained in the light and in the dawn. And we could all play with the birds and run along with them. And we would contemplate the sun, the dusk and the stars. Where were we? Where were we placed? Is there any going back to those days?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] children and their parents: “To go to school.

Well, go there.

Look at the uncle.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] student: “The weapon that is capable of keeping our country’s flag raised is the weapon of science and knowledge, so it is up to us to keep the flag of science and knowledge exalted. With science and glory people can survive; and people’s glory is the country’s glory. We wish you glory and honor, Oh our dear country!”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Sahar Mohammed Hassan: “This school is chief Heydar’s school; a school, the principal of which, did not allow its students to be influenced by the crisis going on outside of it. He would take the students to the school regularly, and make them attend their classes. He never closed the school.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Heydar Saleh, Principal of Her Highness’s Zeynab Primary School: “Seasons are all beautiful, but I consider winter to be the most beautiful season. Unfortunately, I have lost the notebook in which I had written my winter poems. That friend that I seem to miss all the time and I wish to meet its “warmth”. It’s a warmth that reminds me of my grandmother.”

TIME CODE: 30:00_33:55

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Heydar Saleh, Principal of Her Highness’s Zeynab Primary School: “My grandmother (God bless her) loved me in a special way. I used to go to her room, which was full of love and affection. And I would sit by the heater and hear her tell stories about Palestine, and I would listen amorously to those stories. She would prepare for me some traditional Palestinian food. In winter we would go to the groats (oats) mill and she would make some «Kabeh» for me. Yes, that is how winter was for me - and it had an extraordinary spiritual influence on me.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] little girl: “I am an Arab girl, originally from Palestine.I have beautiful, dazzling eyes. I swear to God I will never forgive you,unless you bring me presents, tanks and guns.I and other little children would join Jeysh al Tahriri.Jeysh al Tahriri taught us how to care for our country.Our country is very dear to us and we will never sell it.We are victorious - a victorious face to the United States and Israel.”

CONVERSATION [Arabic] Mother and her daughter: “-Whom are you preparing these for, mom?

-For your uncle Khaled.

-Do you need help?

-Yes… Do you like uncle Khaled?

-Yes, I do.

-You love him a lot?


-Pray for God to protect him. God bless uncle Bassem, uncle Hussein and your father… Say it…

-God bless uncle Bassem, uncle Hussein and my father.

-Oh God, please make this war come to an end. Put this inside your uncle’s knapsack… Pray for god to protect him.

-Now get up and go give this to uncle Khaled.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Khaled Mohammed Yussef: “They destroyed our homes. Although I am a refugee, I consider here to be my home and I will remain faithful to the last drop of my blood and to my last breath to the cause of the resistance and Jihad.

And I will build a home here and in Palestine. Therefore I should join the cause of the resistance to the last drop of my blood and to my last breath.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Heydar Saleh, Principal of Her Highness’s Zeynab Primary School: “Oh Winter! Why are you so late, where as you would be on in previous years? And you used to bring us gifts; and you used to hug us fervently. You would find our village in the heavens and you would overwhelm us with an indescribable joy Why are you so late, oh winter? We love the way you blame us… We love your smile and your joyfulness. We love your storms and your anger. So, why are you so late, oh winter?” 


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