I first saw Omar Offendum, before the start of the Syrian conflict, in an unusual setting: as part of a duo, he shook up the formal dinner of an academic conference at the American University of Beirut.

A Syrian-American artist and activist, Offendum rapped about the challenges for Arab youth moving between the region and the “West”, as well about issues such as Palestine. Always he spoke about the need for dialogue and engagement — represented by his own moves between cultures — rather than violence.

Five years later and internationally-prominent, Offendum sings about the civil war that has taken over Syria: