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Quigley, Kinzinger Host Discussion about Ongoing Crisis in Syria

Oct 30, 2015
Press Release
Feature #chicagoGirl’s Ala'a Basatneh and Joe Piscatella

WASHINGTON – Last night, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), and Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) hosted a discussion about the ongoing crisis in Syria, titled “Social Media & Running the Syrian Revolution.” The discussion featured footage from the internationally acclaimed documentary, #chicagoGirl, the incredible true story of how an American teenage girl helped run the revolution in Syria from her bedroom in Chicago using only social media. Ala’a Basatneh, star of the film and a college student in Illinois’ Fifth District, and the film’s director, Joe Piscatella, attended the discussion.

“It is amazing how social media platforms are the tools of modern revolution and the accessibility helps people of all ages, like Ala’a, form innovative approaches to today’s international conflicts from anywhere in the world,” said Rep. Quigley. “Ala’a’s work shows us that social media is not only a casual way to communicate with friends and family, but an avenue to actively influence what is happening in places like Syria.”

“Every day there are Syrian men, women, and children that wonder if the next untargeted barrel bomb from the Bashar al Assad regime is going to drop and destroy in their neighborhoods. There is no benefit for the United States or for anyone else in the international community to stand on the sidelines and watch what is happening in Syria,” said Rep. Kinzinger. “History will continue to judge us by our inaction in Syria.  It takes brave people like Ala’a Basatneh to stand up against the brutal Assad regime and lead opposition efforts to do what is right. People like Ala’a are using the medium of social media to highlight the brutality of the Assad regime. The international community should follow her lead. It is my honor to welcome Ala’a  to our nation’s Capital to share her story of fearlessness in taking on the Assad regime.”  

Along with Ala’a Basatneh and Joe Piscatella, Sascha Meinrath, Director of X-Lab & Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State University, and Scott Edwards, Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International participated in the discussion on the current state of affairs in Syria.

"The privilege of living in the U.S. makes it our responsibility to help ensure that people in Syria and all over the world will one day be able to live with dignity and peace, whether it's helping them through the use of social media or political advocacy," said Ala’a Basatneh.

"I am pleased to have had the opportunity to talk here in Washington about the Syrian Crisis, to dispel the notion that it is ‘those people, over there, fighting for something that does not affect me.’ The Syrian Crisis affects all of us,” said Joe Piscatella.

The decision of action or inaction towards the crisis in Syria is one of the most important challenges the U.S. is currently facing. Last night’s discussion came at a crucial time when the government has the chance to advance on-the-ground knowledge of the war raging in Syria.

Both the film and the panel discussion helped to clarify the complex tragedies of the Syrian civil war, as well as give an excellent primer on the brave Syrian and Syrian American’s like Ala’a who are working to show the world the suffering that must be addressed by the international community. 

In September, Rep. Quigley joined with 70 House colleagues in urging President Obama to resettle at least 100,000 refugees from the ongoing conflict in Syria. He also joined 54 House members in urging the president to call for international negotiations to bring an end to the conflict in Syria. As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), Rep. Quigley believes government has both the capability and responsibility to play a crucial role in protecting our nation’s security and protecting the civil liberties of its citizens. He continues to build a record as an advocate for public safety and national security issues, a guardian of civil liberties, and a champion of government transparency and accountability.