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Syrian Refugee Who Spent 6 Months in Kuala Lumpur Airport Gets Asylum in Canada

Much like in the 2004 Hollywood film 'The Terminal', Hassan al-Kontar had been living in the transit area of Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia since March 7.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:November 28, 2018, 3:24 PM IST
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Syrian Refugee Who Spent 6 Months in Kuala Lumpur Airport Gets Asylum in Canada
Much like in the 2004 Hollywood film 'The Terminal', Hassan al-Kontar had been living in the transit area of Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia since March 7.
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After living in an airport transit for over 6 months, a Syrian refugee by the name of Hassan al-Kontar was finally on his way to a new home in Canada on Monday after the latter granted him asylum. Kontar had been living in the transit area of Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia since March 7 and finally took off for Vancouver on Monday.

A Strange Case

While in 'captivity' inside the airport, the Kontar's life became very much like that of Tom Hanks in the 2004 Hollywood film 'The Terminal'. Kontar was working in the United Arab Emirates when the Syrian civil War broke out eight years ago. After his visa expired in 2011, Kontar refused to go home in order to evade getting arrested by the Assad government for not fulfilling his military service duties. He therefore chose to stay on illegally in the UAE and he had successfully been doing so until he was caught by UAE authorities in 2016 and deported. Since Malaysia is the one of the only countries in the world that does not require a visa before arrival, Kontar was sent to Malaysia. However, upon reaching, Malaysian authorities refused to allow him out of the airport and also did not allow him to take another flight out. And hence, Kontar ended up being stuck in the transit zone.

The Campaign

Kontar soon realized that he was going to be stuck in the Airport for a while. So he started posting photos and posts about his daily life inside the Airport — where he slept, how he washed, what he ate and other details about his unusual living condition. The man soon gained a huge following on social media with many human rights organisations taking up his case.

One of them was the Canada Caring Society, a Canadian non-profit organisation that launched an online petition in favour of Kontar's release. The petition received over 62,000 signatures and ended up reaching the British Columbia Muslim Association.

Two months ago, Kontar had stopped posting on social media, with many of his fans worrying about his safety and well-being. Malaysian authorities had moved him to a detention centre. On Monday, however, Kontar delighted fans with a new video update on Twitter where he told his followers and well-wishers that he was traveling to Vancouver.

When Reel Meets Real

Kontar's journey has been widely shared on social media. The updates he had been regularly posting from the Airport won hearts and sympathies around the world because of the endearing content and hopeful tone. Through all his updates, Kontar never pulled a long face and always appeared cheerful and humourous. Here are snippets of his time in captivity, as Tweeted by him:  

































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