Tag Archives: Syria

Story of a Song: Country For Syria

Country for Syria

“In The States” was meant to be a fairly simple song for Country For Syria, a “vacation song” of sorts, explains the Istanbul-based country music collective’s co-founder, Owen Harris. After the sprawling group, whose members are American, Syrian, Turkish, Czech, French, and Iranian, returned from a tour to the U.S. last year, they began to write the song processing the experience. For most of the band, it was their first time to America. But after Trump’s inauguration and Muslim ban executive order, they felt compelled to rewrite the lyrics.

“After the ban, everything changed,” says guitarist and vocalist Bashar Balleh, who is from Syria, and co-founded the group with Harris, who is American. “We knew that if Trump won, things would change, but not as fast [as they did]. It was the first thing done, banning Muslims.” Balleh and his wife, who is American, currently find themselves stuck in a state of limbo, unable to visit either of their families together. Three other members of the band have been affected by Trump’s travel ban as well, including two undocumented Syrian refugees currently in Turkey who find their future uncertain.

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Today, Stand with Bandcamp in Support of Immigrants/Basic Human Values

Bandcamp

Like 98% of U.S. citizens (including the President), I am the descendant of immigrants—my great-grandparents came to America from Russia and Lithuania as teenagers and worked in sweatshops until they were able to afford to bring the rest of their families over. Most everyone you speak to in this country has a similar story to tell, because we are, in fact, a nation of immigrants, bound together by a shared belief in justice, equality, and the freedom to pursue a better life. In this context, last week’s Executive Order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Middle Eastern countries from entering the United States is not simply immoral, it violates the very spirit and foundation of America.

Contrary to the assertions of the current administration, the order will not make us safer (an opinion shared by the State Department and many members of Congress including prominent Republicans). Christian religious leaders have denounced both the ban, as well as the exception prioritizing Christian immigrants, as inhumane. It is an unequivocal moral wrong, a cynical attempt to sow division among the American people, and is in direct opposition to the principles of a country where the tenet of religious freedom is written directly into the Constitution. This is not who we are, and it is not what we believe in. We at Bandcamp oppose the ban wholeheartedly, and extend our support to those whose lives have been upended.

And so all day today (starting at 12:01am Pacific Time), for any purchase you make on Bandcamp, we will be donating 100% of our share of the proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union, who are working tirelessly to combat these discriminatory and unconstitutional actions.

As another way of showing solidarity with the immigrants and refugees from the seven banned countries—as well as those impacted by the construction of the Mexican border wall—we’ve compiled a list of albums made by artists from the affected countries (Bandcamp may be incorporated in the United States, but we host artists from every corner of the world). We believe that knowledge and empathy are crucial weapons against fear and intolerance. We hope that, as you listen to these albums, you’ll not only discover some great new artists, but will also gain a further appreciation and understanding for the way music transcends all borders, and remember that, even in the darkest of times, there is more that unites us than divides us.

— Ethan Diamond, Bandcamp Founder & CEO

(Updated Feb. 2: Since our announcement, over 150 bands and labels have volunteered to donate their proceeds to the ACLU and other organizations as well. You can see that list here.)

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