Syrian reporters have started Spain’s first refugee-led news site.
Baynana, meaning ‘between us’ in Arabic strives to prove useful and important information to the Arabic-speaking community in Spain, while building bridges between migrants, refugees, Spanish people of foreign origin, and the rest of society.
Launched on 7 April 2021, Banynana.es is an innovative online news ‘magazine’ led by refugees. The founders of Baynana – Muhammad, Ayham, Okba, and Moussa – honed their diverse journalistic skills reporting on the civil war in Syria before arriving in Spain. In 2019 they were forced to leave their hometown Deraa, Syria through Turkey to Madrid with the help of New York-based press freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
With articles written in both Arabic and Spanish, the aim of Baynana is to show “the good face of migrants here in Spain” according to founder Ayham al-Ghareeb, and to counteract the racism against migrants and refugees often experience through building bridges between communities. The focus has thus far been on successful migrant stories, like a Youtuber with Moroccan roots who fights Islamophobia, or the Lebanese founder of a project to train refugees as chefs in Spain, or the famous Sevilla football striker Youssef en-Nesyri.
Baynana also seeks to offer ‘useful information’ to Spain’s Arabic-speaking community – especially migrants who face everyday challenges. The site offers information in Arabic on how to get residency papers, addressing a problem of accessibility the founders themselves faced. Overall, Baynana aims to battle under-representation of migrant and refugee topics rarely covered in media, and provide an outlet for the voices of migrants and refugees that are themselves so rarely heard. But, the site appeals to the broader and diverse audience of approximately one million Arabic speakers within Spain.
The refugee-led media outlet shares a modest office at the headquarters of Spanish foundation Por Causa, which promotes investigative journalism about migration, and is providing them with logistical support. Funding for the project remains tight, but the Baynana staff have launched a crowd funding campaign on social media to support their inclusive production of news in Spain. Find more information here: https://www.goteo.org/project/baynana.
While Baynana is Spain’s first refugee-led media outlet, a similar project was founded in Germany in 2016. Amal, Berlin!, meaning ‘Hope, Berlin!’, is a magazine led by 10 journalists from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, and Syria. This German site similarly aims to tackle the day-to-day issues and barriers that refugees and newcomers face in an accessible way, by offering Arabic and Farsi digital news that appeals to the growing diversity in the country.
Check out Baynana for yourself! Link here: https://baynana.es
Institute of Public Affairs
MA Candidate at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto