“If you believe in what you are doing, there is no breaking point for a human soul.” – Hassan Al Kontar
When revolution and war broke out in his home country in 2011, Hassan Al Kontar was a young Syrian living and working in the UAE. A conscientious objector by faith and temperament, he refused to return to Syria for compulsory military service and lived illegally before being deported to Malaysia in 2017. Unable to obtain a visa for any other country, he became trapped in the arrivals zone at Kuala Lumpur Airport. Exiled by war and trapped by geopolitics, Hassan used social media and humour to tell his story to the world, becoming an international celebrity and ultimately finding refuge in Canada.
In his memoir, Man at the Airport, Hassan explores what it means to be a Syrian, an “illegal” and a refugee. More broadly, it examines the power of social media to amplify individual voices and facilitate political dissent. Hassan was the first—but not the last—to galvanize international public opinion in his own defense. Quill & Quire magazine calls it “a window into Hassan Al Kontar’s ingenuity, resilience, and determination not to be drawn into the war in his homeland… [It] has a musicality all of its own, sung to us with honesty, grace, and astonishing courage.”
Hassan is supported by Author Patron Florence Campbell.
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