Near Aleppo, Syria 2007
In April 2007, I visited the city of Aleppo in northern Syria, one of the world's most ancient cities. Over centuries, Syria's population has grown as people moved there because of its relative tolerance and security. It was known for its religious diversity, even though most Syrians are Muslim. In the city, there are a variety of Christian churches, Muslim sects and small ancient religions which few people have heard of. At the time of my visit, satellite television had recently broken the monopoly of the state broadcasting and opened up the population to the wider world. The Syrians I met were keen to celebrate their own culture and learn more about others'. Many were suspicious of the West and its policies in Iraq and across the Middle East, but they consistently said that they were angry with our governments, not us. These portraits represent some of the people I met during my brief visit to a beautiful country; I was struck by the Syrians' hospitality, friendliness and generosity to a complete stranger.