Tag Archives: Policeman

Syria’s Agony: The Photographs That Moved Them Most

Syria has always been a tough place to cover for journalists. Confidently authoritarian with a ruthlessly formidable security and intelligence apparatus, Syria has long been one of the most policed of Arab police states. So when some Syrians defied their government to take to the streets in the southern city of Dara‘a in March 2011, the temptation to cover the story was overwhelming for many, including myself.

The story of the Syrian uprising is ultimately the tale of regular citizens silencing the policeman in their heads, breaking their own personal barriers of fear to speak, to demonstrate, to demand, to reject, to no longer be afraid, to live in dignity. It’s about what these people will do, what they will endure, and what they are prepared to become to achieve their aims.

It is also the story of a significant portion of the population that considers the regime of President Bashar Assad the country’s best option, because they believe in its Baathist secular ideology or directly benefit from its patronage or don’t have confidence in Assad’s opponents and fear what may come next. Understanding what this segment of the population will accept in terms of state violence, the narratives they choose to believe and their concerns is a critical component of the story, though one that is harder to obtain, given the paucity of press visas issued by Damascus.

The only way to tell the Syrian story, really tell it, is to be on the ground with the men, women and children who are central to it, whether in Syria on in the neighboring states that many Syrians have fled to. It isn’t easy to do — the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York City, has dubbed Syria the “most dangerous place for journalists in the world” — but it is essential. Nothing beats being there. There is no compensating for seeing, feeling, touching, capturing, living the story.

The images here are a testament to the power of being on the ground, of sharing and capturing a moment for posterity, of translating an element of a person’s life through imagery.

Take a look at the photos. Can you place yourself in these situations? Can you imagine what it must be like? What do you feel when you look at the images? Are you drawn into them, or are you repulsed? Can you relate to them, or are they too alien? This is the power of translating on-the-ground reporting to an audience. This is why we must and will continue to document the Syrian uprising from inside the country when we can, and we — members of the foreign press corps — are not alone. Sadly, as is often the case, local journalists (both professional and citizen) have disproportionately borne the brunt of the casualties in this crisis. Still, this story is not about members of the media and what we go through to tell it; it’s about the Syrians who entrust their testimonies, their experiences, their hopes, their fears, their images to us in the hope that they will help explain what is happening in one of the most pivotal states in the Middle East.

—Rania Abouzeid


This collection of testimonies is the third in a series by TIME documenting iconic images of conflict. See “9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” and “Afghanistan: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” for more.

Abouzeid is a Middle East correspondent for TIME. Reporting by Vaughn Wallace.



Happy Birthday, Muhammad Ali: 70 Iconic Images for 70 Years

Muhammad Ali’s first sounds were “Gee-Gee, Gee-Gee.” His beautiful mother Odessa Clay called her son “G-G” for the rest of her life, and years later, Ali would say, “After I won the Golden Gloves, I told Mama that from the very beginning, I was trying to say, ‘Golden Gloves.’ ” So began the life of Muhammad Ali, who celebrates his 70th birthday today.

Though many know him as the greatest boxer of all time, few know that it was actually the theft of his bicycle at age 12 that began his boxing career. After the bike was stolen, Ali ran to the police station, threatening to “whup whoever stole my bike.” Joe Martin, a white Louisville, Ky., policeman, told him he had better learn to fight, and in his spare time, he took Ali under his wing and taught him the ropes. Ali won his first fight six weeks later. When the referee raised his arm in victory, Ali shouted the iconic words that would become a self-fulfilling prophecy: “I’m gonna be the greatest of all time!”

But what was so incredible about Ali was all the courageous and selfless things he did beyond boxing. In 1975 I called Ali to talk to him about the campaign I was doing for Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, whose book convinced me that he was an innocent man in the slammer. Muhammad was so happy to hear I thought Rubin was innocent. He said, “Absolutely, I’m with you.” Ali literally stopped doing a million things to help someone — a fellow fighter — get out of jail. It was so heroic, and of all the times we worked together, it is still my favorite memory of him. I also can’t tell you how many times, when we were driving on the road, he’d see a school and make me pull over. He’d meet all 200 schoolkids and sign 200 autographs, often with a kid on his lap. That was just his personality, to be so giving of his time. It seriously got to the point that when I saw a school, I’d think, “Oh my God, here we go again. We’re in trouble.”

About 15 years ago, I was a juror in court in downtown Manhattan. After the case was over, the judge asked the jury to enter and talk to him. We go in, and he explains that one of the jurors was a man who changed his life. We’re looking at each other, and he goes, “The juror is George Lois.” Everyone is looking at me, and I’m looking at him like he’s crazy. He told me he was a student at Columbia University in the ’60s, when there were furious debates about Vietnam and draft dodgers, and how that 1968 Esquire cover of Ali as St. Sebastian solidified the argument for Ali’s decision to not participate in the draft. The judge said it changed Columbia University students’ understanding and point of view about the war. I remember that because it speaks to the influence of Ali. From a narcissistic self-promoter who eventually became a man of enduring spirituality through a journey of formidable tests, Ali emerged as a true superhero in the annals of American history and a worldwide ambassador of courage and conviction. A boxing legend who courageously spoke up for black men and civil rights throughout his life! Ali, above all, is the sweetest, nicest person I’ve ever met in my life. And on his glorious 70th birthday, I am privileged to salute him, with the rest of the world.

George Lois is one of advertising’s most famous art directors and cultural provocateurs. From 1962 to ’72, he art-directed several iconic covers for Esquire magazine. 

Taking It to the Streets

The Occupy Wall Street movement has, at times, been chaotic. During an Oct. 1 march across the Brooklyn Bridge, more than 700 people were arrested. On Oct. 15, when protesters took over Times Square, two policeman were injured as the NYPD had to use horses to bash barricades back into place when protesters tried to push through them. I was ever so skeptical when I first met photographer Sasha Bezzubov. I had seen his extraordinary work, so I didn’t doubt his ability for a second, but I knew how chaotic the protests could become.

In my short career as a working journalist, I’ve had the pleasure of working mostly with combat photographers like Kadir van Lohuizen and Erin Trieb. Combat photographers move quickly—shooting, ducking, shifting and shooting again. Somehow they make sense of chaos, and great beauty develops out of their constant motion.

Sasha shoots on film from a tripod, and I knew that he would take great photos, but I knew it would involve some crowd control. Sasha, known for his portrait typologies of travelers and adventurers, shot some extraordinary portraits in his two days at Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street’s base camp. His subjects were a perfect anthropological study of the people who populate the movement: the old and the young, the employed and the searching, the curious and the erudite. As the sun began to set on the first day, Sasha ran out from the crowd and said he had seen a woman holding a bird. He asked me to see if we could take her portrait. She had the most piercing eyes, and I knew Sasha would take an excellent photograph. It turns out that the woman was the one seen on YouTube by more than a million people falling screaming to her knees, after a police commander sprayed pepper in her face. We had been writing about her for a week and only then found out who she was.

Sasha Bezzubov for TIME

Kaylee Dedrick, activist. October 7, 2011

That was one of the treasures to come out of working with Sasha. The rest are shown here. And for the record, the bird survived and, a few days later, flew away.

Sasha Bezzubov is a Brooklyn based photographer. Facts on the Ground, an exhibition by Bezzubov and his collaborator Jessica Sucher is on view at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York through October 22. More of his work can be seen here.

Nate Rawlings is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @naterawlings. Continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

Taking It to the Streets

The Occupy Wall Street movement has, at times, been chaotic. During an Oct. 1 march across the Brooklyn Bridge, more than 700 people were arrested. On Oct. 15, when protesters took over Times Square, two policeman were injured as the NYPD had to use horses to bash barricades back into place when protesters tried to push through them. I was ever so skeptical when I first met photographer Sasha Bezzubov. I had seen his extraordinary work, so I didn’t doubt his ability for a second, but I knew how chaotic the protests could become.

In my short career as a working journalist, I’ve had the pleasure of working mostly with combat photographers like Kadir van Lohuizen and Erin Trieb. Combat photographers move quickly—shooting, ducking, shifting and shooting again. Somehow they make sense of chaos, and great beauty develops out of their constant motion.

Sasha shoots on film from a tripod, and I knew that he would take great photos, but I knew it would involve some crowd control. Sasha, known for his portrait typologies of travelers and adventurers, shot some extraordinary portraits in his two days at Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street’s base camp. His subjects were a perfect anthropological study of the people who populate the movement: the old and the young, the employed and the searching, the curious and the erudite. As the sun began to set on the first day, Sasha ran out from the crowd and said he had seen a woman holding a bird. He asked me to see if we could take her portrait. She had the most piercing eyes, and I knew Sasha would take an excellent photograph. It turns out that the woman was the one seen on YouTube by more than a million people falling screaming to her knees, after a police commander sprayed pepper in her face. We had been writing about her for a week and only then found out who she was.

Sasha Bezzubov for TIME

Kaylee Dedrick, activist. October 7, 2011

That was one of the treasures to come out of working with Sasha. The rest are shown here. And for the record, the bird survived and, a few days later, flew away.

Sasha Bezzubov is a Brooklyn based photographer. Facts on the Ground, an exhibition by Bezzubov and his collaborator Jessica Sucher is on view at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York through October 22. More of his work can be seen here.

Nate Rawlings is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @naterawlings. Continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.