Goddesses in the Dirt: Zainab al-Hosni

Goddesses in the Dirt: Issue #20: Zainab al-Hosni

I recently learned the gut-wrenching story of this beautiful woman who lived in the city of Homs, Syria. Her brother, Mohammad, was a well-known activist who spoke out against the current government regime. On July 27th, Zainab al-Hosni was abducted by what were believed to be members of a plain-clothes security force, with the apparent aim of pressuring her brother to turn himself in. A phone call from her captors warned him that she would only be released if he ceased his anti-regime protests.

Mohammad was arrested on September 10 and held at a Political Security office in Homs. Three days later his mother was summoned to retrieve his body from a local hospital. The body showed signs of torture, including cigarette burns as well as multiple gunshot wounds to the arm, leg and chest. While she was at the hospital, the mother discovered the fate of her missing daughter: her body was at the same morgue. She had been decapitated, her arms cut off and her body partially skinned. The mother was not permitted to bring her daughter home until four days later and was made to sign a document stating that her children had been kidnapped and abducted by an armed gang.

Homs is made up primarily of Sunni Muslims, but Christians and Alawites, a sect which supports President Bashar al-Assad, also live in the city. Ongoing protests have strained relationships between these communities: those suspected of being informants are being assassinated in the rising violence, and some fear the region could dissolve into civil war. 

Zainab and Mohammad join a list of more than 2,220 individuals who have died working towards reform in the current Syrian regime. Thousands more have been arrested and many are being held at unknown locations at risk of torture or death. The people of Syria deserve what everyone on earth seeks: to live a life of peace and freedom with dignity. The eternal question remains unanswered: 

Why must they suffer for wanting that? 

After Zainab was buried, women held a protest in her home town. Chanting, "Syria wants freedom" they called Zainab "the flower of Syria." One woman held up a sign, 'Rejoice in eternal paradise' and another vowed:

'They plucked the flower. After me, a bud will rise up.'


  1. Just be careful,,,in your travels,,,you are a brave young lady...

  2. that is so sad and makes me so angry - so many wasted lives. we take so much for granted without even knowing what people in other parts of the world are going through daily.

  3. oh !

    a bleached mind makes it difficult to say some adequate words. may this be heard throughout the whole wide world.

  4. If only we could be sure all this is true. I have become so sceptical; over propaganda and false information from all sides.
    Can somebody speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
    So God help me.

  5. Dearest Amanda:

    Thank you for shedding a light on the struggles of others, from all parts of the world, and all walks of life.

    Having had ample opportunity to visit the Middle East, I have heard stories from those close to me that would make your blood run cold. I hate that there is so much suffering in the world, but the very worst thing we can do is be silent in the face of it.

  6. While I share some of potsoc's uncertainty about the situation, it is an all-too-believable story.
    Life is not easy in Syria, or in other nations with repressive governments.
    I even worry about what will come next in Canada and the United States.

  7. Oh, dear Amanda, this was so sad and almost disturbing. Such atrocities go on in the world all the time. How lucky we are that we live with no fear and where the spoken word is free and unlimited and what we say has no repercussion.
    Very powerful post dear friend.

  8. i sit for a very long time not knowing what to write. this kind of violence is so beyond anything i can think to understand. i was ruined when i read about what happened to Zainab, but it was the last sentence in your piece that finally destroyed me to tears, the perseverance, even in the face of unthinkable violence, of the soul. how can it be? it shames my silence.


  9. thank you for all your thoughtful and compassionate comments about these senseless deaths. in response to paul i will say that my source for this information is amnesty international, a human rights organization which holds a great deal of credibility in the world. also this past sunday's new york times ran a front page story on the growing violence in syria and the possibility of civil war erupting. i understand the need to verify information - particularly about abominable acts such as this one. i wish it weren't true. i read every day about beheadings by drug cartels in mexico and other atrocities going on in our world. as you have all so eloquently shared, reading zainab's story forces us to question the madness that exists in the world and at the same time, as erin said, be amazed by the beauty and strength of humankinds' perseverance towards peace and freedom.

  10. I ask myself, "Could I be as brave?" It is chilling what we are capable of as a species. As difficult as it is to hear of these atrocities, they need to be aired.

    Zainab, Zainab, Zainab I will remember you.

    Mohammad, Mohammad, Mohammad, also.

  11. i recognized her face before i read one word here. thank you, amanda. one of my dearest blog friends, human being, lives in iran and she is so restricted from posting and visiting. for her to push could mean her 'disappearance'

    for paul, if you mind mind: there is so much brutality in in certain countries that if you must question, i hope you will lean toward those whose freedom is not allowed, many of whom pay with their lives only for speaking the truth.

    with love amanda


  12. it's unbelievable what people do to people. sick, sad, horrible.

  13. Absolutely horrible. I cannot understand the cruelty of other human beings but I marvel at the spirit of those who oppose it despite the risks.

  14. omg that is pure horror - tragedy all around. also heard about those doctors arrested for healing protestors?? thanks for posting this xx

  15. Hello.

    I am very happy to be the one to give you the good news. Zainab Al-Hosni is alive and well.

    She appeared on 4th October 2011 on national TV and refuted the claims of her being abducted.

    She said that she left home because her brothers were mistreating her. She also said very emotionally, that she hopes that her mother will forgive her.

    Unfortunately, current reports are saying that it was in fact an Alawite girl who was tortured by the terrorists perpetrating this sickening hoax.

    Bless you all,



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