A Bolivian filmmaker who traveled to Syria to experience the war-torn country firsthand says it is full of Christians and Muslims who effortlessly co-exist and want their country to hold onto its secularism – despite what the media portrays.
Carla Ortiz traveled to Syria to shed light on the everyday people who are simply trying to get by in a country which has long served as the setting of a brutal civil war that has claimed countless lives.
When asked what inspired her to travel to Syria, Ortiz told RT that she had been “surprised” that the majority of the information received regarding the situation was from refugees who had fled, and that most of the news was from rebel-held areas.
“I was always wondering, what about the rest of the people? What about the people who are not holding weapons? What about the people that are just there, caught in the conflict?”
Ortiz said her visit taught her that Syrians want what everyone else wants: peace.
“They want to be able to have their lives back. They don’t want war, they want to be able to send their children to school. Students want to be able to go to universities without having to be bombed, they want to rebuild their lives.”
Most importantly, however, Syrians “want to keep their unity and their secularism.”
She credited Syria as being “probably one of the very few countries you will see in the world where Muslims and Christians truly and honestly are not just united, but they are somehow co-existing and living.”
“They don’t want to talk about religion, they want to be referred to as Syrians,” she added.
However, Ortiz noted that the rest of the world receives an opposite message from the media, which often portrays those in the country as “fighting for religious matters.”
Ortiz also touched on Russia’s role in liberating Syria, noting a vast difference when comparing the present situation to when she first arrived to the country and the majority of the territory was “taken by terrorism or rebels or armed people and the people.”
Russia’s Ministry of Defense confirmed earlier this month that around 85 percent of Syria had been liberated from the control of terrorists. Moscow has been providing assistance for the Syrian forces fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) since 2015, and with the Russian military’s help, the Syrian army has freed Hama, Homs, Latakia, Palmyra, and Aleppo.
“This is a great advance, and I think Russia has also diplomatically taken an incredible turn in the fate of…these 18 million people that are still inside Syria,” Ortiz said.
The filmmaker, who said she “fell in love” with the culture of the Syrian people, says she is now in the beginning stages of a documentary on North Korea, and also hopes to make a film in war-torn Yemen.