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From the ashes of Aleppo, a sound of hope

April 3, 2017 at 6:15 PM EDT
In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, it was an image of Aleppo, Syria, that went viral: a man listening to a gramophone in his bombed-out home. The photographer explains how he captured the image.
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NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

JOHN YANG: Now to our NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that may be of interest to you, too.

An image of a man listening to a gramophone in his bombed-out Aleppo home recently went viral, captured by Agence France-Presse photographer Joseph Eid while on assignment in Syria.

We recently spoke to him via Skype about the photo and about the man at its center.

JOSEPH EID, Agence France-Presse: Well, Mr. Mohammed, his full name, it’s Mohammed Mohiedin Anis. And they call him Abu Omar.

We saw that this is a very educated person, he speaks five languages, he five years of medicine in Spain, and he inherited a great wealth from his parents. He’s one of the richest, very wealthy people of Aleppo.

And Mr. Omar has a very strong inclination to collect old and vintage cars, especially American-made ones from the ’40s and ’50s. And he told us that how he lost everything now and how he was willing to restart again from ashes, how an old man, a 70-year-old man, that he is willing to go back again and to reopen his firm and to restore his house and to fix his cars, that he calls they are injured and they are crying now, they are weeping.

And we went also up to the master bedroom. When we were there, we barely could walk amongst the rubble there inside. And we asked him. He’s still living there. He’s still sleeping amongst the rubble. It’s amazing. I couldn’t believe.

Yusef, the videographer, asked him, the phonograph is still operating?

He said, “Well, it’s the only thing that still operates here.” So, he said: “Wait. I will show you. I will let you listen to one of my favorite discs.”

When he ended up explaining about the song, he just — like, he was transferred. He was puffing on his pipe and looking out from the window. And he put his one leg over one another, and just like he was by himself listening to the music, without taking notice that we are around him.

That moment, like, I was like electroshock. And he didn’t notice that I was taking pictures of him. He was like in another era. He went back to his old good times, I think.

The destruction, the rubble, the windows, and the light even which struck from the left, it was so dramatic, you know? So, it touched me, and I took the image.

People are fed up from violence, from killing, from beheading, from ISIS. They have been hearing it on a daily basis. So, I think this image that it shows the human being in Syria, and it gives also a message of hope.

He told us: “No matter what happens to me or to Syria, I’m not leaving here. It’s here where I born, and I’m not leaving.”

That’s the strong thing about it, is determination to live.

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