Pieter Stockmans is a Belgian research journalist. He holds a degree in law, international relations and journalism.
For MO* magazine he is investigating the global performance of the European Union, the refugee and migration policies of the EU, developments in Central-Europe and the region east of the EU. He has a special attention for Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine and Russia.
As a freelance journalist he spent years traveling across North Africa and the Middle East. He has published for Knack, De Standaard, MO*, Middle East Eye and Al Jazeera English. He is the co-founder of the journalistic project Between Freedom and Happiness, bringing the human stories behind the Arab uprisings. He is also the co-author of De Jihadkaravaan (Uitgeverij Lannoo).
He did on-the-ground research on the radicalization of all warring parties in the Middle East. He lived embedded with Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries of Syria and on their way to Europe, with the Kurds in Syria, with Hezbollah in Lebanon, with the inhabitants of Egyptian slums, with Islamic and secular protest movements in Jordan, and with many Israelis and Palestinians.
- From 2005 until 2010 he traveled and researched all corners of Israel, Palestine and Lebanon.
- In 2011, he was at the forefront during historical moments of the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
- In 2012 he spent time with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, and with young Tunisians dreaming of migrating to Europe.
- In 2013 he spent one month doing research in the Lebanese mobilization base of the Syrian regime and Iran: the areas under control of Hezbollah.
- In the spring of 2014 he went to the birthplace of the international jihad movement: Jordan. There he spent time with jihadists sympathizing with IS and al-Qaeda.
- In the summer of 2014 he traveled to Syria, where he witnessed the Kurdish state PKK is building in northern Syria. He investigated how the various parties use education as a weapon of war in the areas they control.
- In the summer of 2015 he went to Tunisia, to investigate the movements behind the terrorist attacks in Tunis and Sousse.
- And to northern Iraq, to report on how the Kurds are fighting IS in the Kirkuk province.
- In the autumn of 2015 he lived with Syrian refugees in Turkey, investigating how they are being exploited and how their access to education is hindered. He followed a Syrian family in their attempts to cross from Turkey to Greece, and on their trip through the Balkans all the way to Belgium.
He likes to practice slow journalism, following the same people and families for over a period of several years. This turbulent period is also a time of turbulent family lives, and will only be fully understood by tracking its continued impact on personal lives. He likes to invest all his energy into gaining trust and access to isolated, forgotten and trampled-upon populations, from the anonymous millions of the Egyptian popular neighborhoods, to the hundreds of thousands of young Tunisians with a Europe-dream, and the millions of Syrian refugees. Because their dreams are at the base of the uprisings. And when society dehumanizes jihadists, he will want to live with jihadists to re-humanize them.
In his analyses he tries to challenge the hidden patterns in our way of thinking towards the Arab world. This website will be a platform for in-depth journalism. The Arab world is all over the news, but there are few media that report consistently about the personal, human aspects of the uprisings during this on-going historical period.
On this website you will find unexpected stories about the impact of uprisings on people’s lives, the human stories that help to understand the news. On the migration of Syrians and Tunisians in the Mediterranean Sea region, Syrian refugees in Turkey, the Syrian uprising with a focus on Hezbollah and the jihadists, the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, the Egyptian uprising and the development of popular neighborhoods, protest movements in Jordan, Israel and Palestine.
Between Freedom and Happiness is a journalistic project created by two journalists, Pieter Stockmans and Majd Khalifeh. Since the onset of the Arab Spring in 2011, they bring the stories of the people behind the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. It’s a journey into the lives of ordinary and less ordinary people, a search for dreams of freedom and happiness. In each of the countries, they live embedded with the people they write about. The focus is always on what makes a human being free and happy: family, work, love, children, dreams, memories, environment, housing, God, identity, money, future.