Khaled Khalifa Interview: Silence is Disgraceful Too

“I know that words can’t stop a gun, but silence is disgraceful too.” Writer Khaled Khalifa talks about the importance of the written word, on daring to ask and answer questions, and on believing in peace through revolution.

“There is a tremor going through Syrian society, and a new life emerging. Cultural life is free from all the lies, and truth prevails in the end.” Syrian writer and poet Khaled Khalifa (b.1964) attracted worldwide media attention for his novel In Praise of Hatred (2006), which was a finalist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and has been banned in Syria.

In this interview Khalifa talks of how he began writing when he was just eleven, and quickly became a successful writer. Living in powerty, Khalifa went on to study law and publish many books, who’s mission were to answer questions about the life of Syrians before the revolution, especially what happened in Syria in the 1980s, which has been something nobody were allowed to ask questions about: “A new attempt to talk about how the Syrians have lived for 40 years.” He also explains how ‘In Praise of Hatred’ took him 13 years to write.

“I know that we as writers don’t yield much power during wars. I tried to empower us – to do all what we can to save a people from being slaughtered.” On the Arab spring, and the role of the intellectual, Khalifa says that the writer, journalist and artist will be crucial in building a new Syria; drawing a vision, documenting what has happened, and answering profound questions: “The Syrians have never started a fight. So it’s regrettable that the world’s institutions and the world community has given the regime all that time to quite simply kill people.”

Khaled Khalifa was interviewed by Anders Hastrup

Photographer: Jonas Hjort

Edited by Kamilla Bruus

Produced by Marc-Cristoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013.

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Louisiana Channel is a non-profit video channel for the Internet launched by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in November 2012. Each week Louisiana Channel will publish videos about and with artists in visual art, literature, architcture, design etc.

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