Syria: Faces of Survival and Resilience – The Photography of Ali Mustafa

Media Release 2016/03/11: Community legacy of Toronto freelancer killed in Syria pays it forward through award in his name.

Memorial / Exhibit Opening: Saturday March 12, 6-8pm
Ongoing exhibition: March 12 – April 3

Beit Zatoun
612 Markham St. (Bathurst Subway Station)

“I report what must be told, what will not be forgotten.”

Ali Mustafa (1984-2014), a Toronto-based freelance photojournalist, activist, and writer, was killed in Aleppo along with seven others on 9 March 2014, in an aerial bombing carried out by the Syrian government.

As we celebrate Ali’s memory and legacy on the second anniversary of his passing, the Ali Mustafa Memorial Collective invites you to an exhibition of some of the most moving and vivid photography from his journeys to Syria.

With this exhibit, we hope to honour Ali’s self-declared commitment to using the art of photography to put a spotlight on the rarely covered human side of war. Disheartened by Western media coverage of the Syrian conflict and the treatment of the plight of civilians as mere statistics, Ali felt compelled to witness firsthand the ongoing tragedies of everyday life he could no longer ignore.

And yet, Ali’s reporting expanded far beyond stories of death, displacement and destruction. Instead, his intimate portraits of Syrians living and resisting in the face of devastation were guided by a commitment to show, above all, people’s strength, survival and resilience against all odds.

More than a mere vocation, photojournalism represented for Ali a tool for realizing his radical vision of social justice. Through his principled people’s journalism, he worked to sow the seeds for what he called ‘genuine people-to-people solidarity.’

As images and stories of displaced Syrians fleeing ravaged neighbourhoods have come to capture the attention and imagination of the world over the last several months, and as the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the country only continues to grow, Ali’s work continues to serve as a call to action and a timely reminder of the need for principled solidarity.


This memorial exhibit will also feature an announcement regarding the winner of the inaugural Ali Mustafa Memorial Award for People’s Journalism, launched last year to support other freelance photojournalists documenting struggles for social justice.

The Ali Mustafa Memorial Collective will also be announcing details about an initiative currently underway to publish a posthumous book of Ali’s photography and writing. Join us at the memorial for details about how you can support this project to help preserve the legacy of Ali’s life and work.


More about Ali Mustafa:

Prior to his work in Syria, Ali had also reported from Egypt, Palestine, Brazil and Toronto, and his images were featured in a number of outlets, including The Guardian, Le Nouvel Observateur, Journal du Dimanche, and The Times of London.

For more of his photography, writing and interviews, please visit:


Need to know:
– Doors open at 6:00
– Free (Donations to support award and other activities are appreciated)
– Accessible on demand via portable ramp; washrooms not accessible
– Please avoid using strong-scented products due to sensitivities

Light food and refreshments will be served.

Facebook event page: