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Activism Abroad Can Mean Terror For Family Members Back Home In Syria

Exiled for the past 11 years in Germany, Syrian-born Sondos Sulaiman is an open critic of the repressive Bashir al-Assad regime. But her activism comes at a price. Sulaiman receives regular threats, and fears constantly – with good reason – for the safet

Critics of Syrian President Bashir al-Assadm protesting in Berlin
Critics of Syrian President Bashir al-Assadm protesting in Berlin
Lydia Bentsche

BERLIN -- Every day, she gets anonymous hate mail. Even in exile in Germany, Sondos Sulaiman faces intense pressure from supporters of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. Despite the threats, Sulaiman, 33, continues to fight for democracy in her country from Berlin, where she's now based. She does, however, suffer permanent anxiety about her parents and seven siblings, 3,000 kilometers away.

The regime in Damascus is making this activist's life hell. Sometimes she gets up to 10 emails and Facebook notifications a day – and they're not from her family or friends. But the anonymous communications, which also include calls, aren't deterring her. Even though she fears for safety of her loved ones, she continues to work for the Al Hadatha party, which is fighting for freedom and democracy in Syria.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Fifteen years ago, Francesco kept busy by scamming people. He was a regular visitor to the beaches of Terracina, south of Rome, where he was caught several times selling counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses. Then came the drugs, which fed a serious substance-induced psychosis and eventually he tested positive for HIV.

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