Poetry night at a Damascus hotel, part of a thriving bohemian scene in Syria
BBC journalist Martin Asser has a lively report on the arts scene living "life on the edge" in Damascus, which is this year's Arab Capital of Culture, thriving and testing the "red lines" in a rigidly-controlled state. Asser buys a banned book: In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa, whom he talks to about the knife-edge situation for outspoken artists in Syria.
Looking back over events such as the 2007 conviction handed down to Michel Kilo, Khalifa says:
"It's a grey area now. No one knows whether freedom is coming or on the retreat. The authorities are restricting the internet for example, but on the plus side they are not detaining people who speak out."