BBC Three
« Previous | Main | Next »

Riots and Revolutions - Nel Hedayat - part two

Presenter -     Nel Hedayat
Like all of us I've watched on the news as the Arab world has been rocked by uprisings - and young people have been right at the centre of the protests. I've visited four of these countries on my Arab journey to meet some of the young rebels...


To be in Libya, at the point at which history is written, where lives changed completely, is an experience I will never forget. I was there as the rebel fighters came home after fighting a bloody and violent war; the local Libyans looking at their men as though they were gods.


Kids who looked about 5 years old were handed Kalashnikovs, and their mums were getting them to pose for photos with guns that were bigger than them! I could see that they were celebrating but it all felt wrong to see kids so young around guns. A year ago, few on these streets would have even seen a rifle. Now as I was deafened by the sound of anti-aircraft guns fired into the air in victory, it was clear that life will never be the same again for Libya. I smiled uncomfortably at the crowd as I was handed the new Libyan flag.

View the full blog post to access video content. In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

But that's just one country in a part of the world where things are changing so quickly it's hard to keep up – it’s the same in Syria. That's the Arab Spring for you.

I went to neighbouring Lebanon where I saw cyber-activists sit at computers watching video after video from Syria of bomb-hit homes; of soldiers beating people who say no to Syrian president Assad's rule and many people screaming for it all to stop.

I also met some of the people who call themselves the Free Syrian Army who were once part of President Assad's forces but are now fighting against him to the death. As far as we can tell, the fate of Syria lies in the hands of these self-appointed freedom fighters.

But, whereas the Libyans have got their freedom, reports say the Syrians are dying every day waiting for theirs. My Arab Spring journey has taught me one thing - that revolutions can be ecstatic and the best high you can ever know; but on the way they are also terrifying, brutal and murderous.

Riots and Revolutions: My Arab Journey is on Monday at 9pm



  • Comment number 1.

    It is most unfortunate that another interesting and relevant programme has this awful presenter, who is nothing short of patronising, FAKE and insincere. Typical Afghan / Asian young lady , plays on the western perception of a "Liberated" young Asian woman travelling the world all alone exposing the horrid ways of the East. Once was acceptable as a young Afghan woman visiting her own country post Taliban; however the Egypt documentary was awfully presented.

    The BBC must be getting really desperate to be giving her all this airtime. As a tax payer and contributor to the TV License fee I am seriously disappointed at the standard and calibre of presenter and journalist. What are her credentials, can any one now go around with a film crew and get on tv? SHOCKING.

  • Comment number 2.

    Unbelievable, shocking but true.... went to read comments on another one of the threads about this series and comment 1. from John states exactly the same; too young, inexperienced and 'PATRONISING'. Coincidence?.... don't think so.

  • Comment number 3.

    This is not the fault of the presenter (you cannot blame her for taking an assignment such as this - all helps when you are a fledgling journo/presenter) - the blame should wholly be blamed on the producers and the commisioning editor - what were they thinking? A great opportunity lost to reach out to the so-called "Yoof" segment. You are certainly creating alot of negative feedback with regards to the poor lack of quality & judgement. A very good idea - which got lost!

  • Comment number 4.

    Hey, whats all this flack aimed at the presenter!! Personally I have found Nel and her sincere presentation to be a breath of fresh air. Fantastic programme and fantastic reporting.

  • Comment number 5.

    @Musaafir...As a British born Bengali woman I am offended by your comment 'Typical Afghan / Asian young lady , plays on the western perception of a "Liberated" young Asian woman'!! I am a free, liberal and open minded woman and like many of my fellow women we don't need liberating thank you very much!! Nelufar Hedayat is a product of positive discrimination, one needs to look at her first documentary on Afghanistan to know, the young lady is quite clearly unsure about who she is...she is an Afghan woman who effectively is somewhat British but follows a hit and miss attitude towards Islam. She is not a representative of Muslim women or Islam and labeling herself as one is dangerous and slippery slope. Not her fault though, it seems to me that 'Muslim' presenters make a point of stating their religion which you don't get with presenters of other religious denominations. Back to the documentary...very poorly researched, presented with a very naive presenter acting like a 16 year old then the 20+ year old she is. Sorry BBC major failure and please don't use her for future documentaries. I just about got over the 'Child Brides' scene were she tells a brother who lost his teen sister in child birth how beautiful she is after hearing she dead...I mean really, insensitive much?

  • Comment number 6.

    Fake and insincere??? I think that anyone who goes to any country where you would be afraid for your life should be applauded. I really dont think that in an hour you would be able to cover all topics that you would want to include.
    Nel did not highlight herself as a Muslim but an English woman whose parents fled from Afganistan - I dont think that the focus was on religion but revolution, war and violence which has a devestating impact on everyone in the country.
    I have a lot of respect for Nel - I dont think I would have been so brave at 24 years old - you go girl!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    @Tanb...In her first documentary were she returns to Afghanistan I recall her comments of not being able to identify herself as fully British and recall herself stating herself as a Muslim. Nelufar Hedayats documentaries has her inputting her personal issues into it hence my comment. Religion in this revolution is highly significant which is briefly touched on by this documentary and if you assume it is insignificant because of this documentary then quite clearly the production team have failed in their objective of bringing the understanding of the revolution to you.

  • Comment number 8.

    Here is a comment I made on two other forums in relation to the other part of this documentary, as well as on one relating to child brides. My message to Nelufar is "DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED BY ANY OF THESE AND OTHER NEGATIVE COMMENTS. YOU ARE GOING FAR AND I HOPE TO SEE YOU AGAIN IN MANY OTHER PROGRAMMES. THE BBC MADE A GOOD CHOICE." :-

    "I have just watched Nelufar Hedayat on BBCThree presenting a documentary about Riots and Revolutions: My Arab Journey, and I am absolutely astonished at the confidence and courage of this girl, whose youthful looks belie a maturity and intelligence that some of the comments on this forum do not give her credit for. I find her honest, intelligent, confident and courageous. She thought nothing of talking with these 'macho' men with courage and intelligence and a total lack of self-conscienciousness, and although these men could easily have treated her with patronising contempt as she is female and looks so young, they did not and showed a great deal of respect for her.

    I hope very much that we see Nelufar in more of these programmes."

  • Comment number 9.

    I thought this was an excellent documentary bringing to reality the suffering and shock of the people of the Arab Spring.

    My only problem, as with the first part, is that not enough was explained about the West's role in both propping up the dictators and then tearing them down.

    For example, the West has armed and funded Gaddafi for many years, though he had become somewhat isolated at times. Then, the West, through Nato, bombed Libya to destroy his regime.

    So the West are making and unmaking dictators - this is true in Egypt, Bahrain (haven't been unmade yet), though, not of Syria, where Russia and China are the godfathers. The programme completely overlooked this truth.


More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.