November 29 2018

Hassan Al Kontar; The Syrian Viktor Navorski

Many of you may be familiar with the name Hassan Al Kontar, a name which has been repeatedly hashtagged and mentioned in the news and on social media portals over the past _not very few_ months.

For those of you who aren’t, Hassan Al Kontar is a 37-year-old Syrian, who used to live and work in the UAE, and whose life took a turn for the worse following the eruption of the Syrian conflict.
When his Syrian passport expired and he couldn’t renew it, he lost his work visa and was deported from the country.
Afraid of getting arrested upon landing in Syria, because he’s wanted for military service there (and refuses to serve), he tried to go anywhere else, with no luck.
After being denied entry to multiple countries, he was finally sent to Malaysia, where he was trapped in the Malaysian airport for more than seven months.

As he started documenting and reporting his day-to-day life in the Malaysian airport through his Twitter feed, his plight garnered international attention, especially that of Canadian Laurie Cooper, resident of Whistler B.C.
Touched by the predicament, she got in touch with Al Kontar and set up a GoFundMe page for him with the goal of buying him a ticket to a safe country. She also coordinated with travelers from around the world to bring Al Kontar cash and supplies.
Shortly after, Cooper and a group of Whistler B.C. residents raised the money required to sponsor him, and set him up with a job and accommodations in Whistler. [Source: CBC]

Al Kontar was granted Asylum in Canada and has landed safely in Vancouver, Canada in November 2018, thanks to the help of the exceptional Laurie Cooper, the amazing group of Whistler residents and the wonderful B.C. Muslim Association, who worked together to sponsor him and lobbied for months to get him to Canada.

I would like to clarify a very important point here; many Malaysians think that Al Kontar never thanked the Malaysian government for taking him in, and are accusing him of being ungrateful for not accepting to stay there and preferring to leave to Canada.
Al Kontar did in fact thank Malaysia for accepting him in when no other country did, and for providing him with a three month tourist visa, and offering him to stay in Malaysia under a local Syrian Refugee program, which is the maximum they could offer within their internal laws and regulations, as per Al Kontar. (a link to the video where he says that is provided in the comments, in Arabic).
But his decision is based on the fact that Malaysia is not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention nor its Protocol, and doesn’t have an asylum system regulating the status and rights of refugees. Accepting to stay without any legal or internationally recognized documentation means that Al Kontar will not be granted a legal work permit and will not be able to legally travel or leave Malaysia for the rest of his life, which is not the freedom he was seeking. So it’s all about the lack of a legal protection framework and the weakness of the administrative structure for asylum being currently provided, and nothing to do with the lovely Malaysian people or their hospitality. It’s as simple as that.
And here’s a beautiful, non-biased and very objective explanation to why Al Kontar came to this decision.

Welcome to Canada Hassan Al Kontar.


December 15 2015

Canada: Cold Country, Warm Hearts

Like many Arabs living in Canada, I was overwhelmed with an indescribable feeling of joy, and pain, as the Syrian refugees started landing in the country.
As happy as I was to see them arrive safely, knowing they’ll now needn’t worry about their survival, and that they’ll finally be able to re-experience a safe and terror-free life, just like the one they used to have a few years ago before all this craziness took place, I have to admit that deep inside me, watching my brothers and sisters in this condition, scattered around the globe, seeking refuge continents away from their home, was not easy, at all.
All what came to my mind was Syria; this beautiful country, with its inveterate history and its rich culture… all the good times that I – like thousand others- have spent there on vacation. Syria was synonym to safety, fun, happiness and everything great. Now with terrorism tearing it apart, I really couldn’t help but feel sincerely sorry for their hearts that are aching and burdened with a huge question mark you can see on the face of almost every refugee: ‘What happened to us? what’s next?’
The only thing that helped ease the pain a bit was witnessing the beautiful reactions of Canadians as they welcomed refugees with arms wide open. Starting with the government and the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to the children who were holding toys and blankets awaiting their “new friends”.
The amount of donations and volunteers dedicating their time to help refugees was pretty impressive, and to see Canada sheltering people despite their religious beliefs, not asking them to give up their religious identity, but on the contrary embracing their beliefs, was just terrific, Canada sent a clear and strong message to the whole world: ‘a human being, is a human being, regardless of what they believe, regardless of where they come from, or what language they speak’.
This message certainly made all Canadians proud of their country and government, I know I am.

Of all Canadian gestures to welcome refugees, I must say that these two touched me the most:

  1. Ottawa children choir singing an Arabic Muslim song to welcome refugees:

2. Quebec senior women meet up to make tuques for refugees.

Let’s remember that those who made it here, or elsewhere as a matter of fact, are only the lucky ones, and that many others are still suffering with no way out.
As heartbreaking as this may be, let’s hope that Syria will once again be a safe home for its lovely people, and that the world will, one day, be a happier place, free of all kinds of terrorism.


September 4 2015

ألمانيا تساعد اللاجئين وتباً لكل من يصفق

تناقلت شبكات التواصل الإجتماعي الكثير من المقالات التي كانت بمثابة ردة فعل عنيفة -برأيي- على مشاركة فيديوهات تمدح ألمانيا وتطري على تعاملها مع اللاجئين السوريين، وبشكل عجيب غريب هوجم العديد من المدونين والمغردين على تويتر لمشاركتهم في مدح ألمانيا، معتبرين هذا إنتقاصاً من شأن الدول العربية التي سبقت ألمانيا وغيرها من دول الغرب في إحتضان ومساعدة اللاجئين.

أفهم بكل تأكيد، أن هناك كثر  “ما بعجبهم العجب ولا الصيام في رجب”، وعندهم حقد عجيب على كل ماهو عربي، حتى أنفسهم، وأفهم محاولات مواجهة هؤلاء  لإسكاتهم وإلزامهم حدود العرفان والإنتماء؛ ولكن أن نعتبر العديد من مثقفي العرب معقدين بعقدة “الغرب دوماً أفضل”، أو أنهم يمدحون بهدف “مسح الجوخ” أو الإنتقاص من شأن بلادهم العربية و جهودها، فهذا ما لا أستطيع استيعابه أبداً، وللأسباب التالية:

1. كل الفيديوهات كانت تشيد بما فعلت ألمانيا كسباقة لغيرها من دول أوروبا التي رفضتإستقبال اللاجئين وأغلقت حدودها في وجههم.  وكل التعليقات التي كانت مصاحبة لهذه المشاركات كانت موجهة لباقي الدول الأوروبية لتحذوا حذو ألمانيا.

2. مع أن متوسط دخل المواطن الألماني أعلى بكثير من نظيره العربي، ولكن أغلب المتطوعين في مساعدة اللاجئين هم من طلبة الجامعات الذين يعتمدون على أنفسهم في تأمين تكاليف التعليم، هذا عدا عن أن الموضوع لا يقاس بالماديات، فكثيرون لم تسمح ظروفهم المادية بتقديم أي دعم مادي، و اكتفوا بالتواجد والسمع لهموم اللاجئين، بدل أن يقفوا مكتوفي الأيدي.

3. ، الألمان  الذين إستقبلوا اللاجئين قاموا بذلك ضد إخوانهم الألمان الذين عارضوهم، وتحدوا أبناء عرقهم لمساعدة أناس من غير عرقهم، ولا دمهم، لا يتكلمون لغتهم، ولا يشاركونهم تقاليدهم ولا معتقداتهم، ليسوا أشقاءهم، ولا أقرباءهم،  فنعم الإفتخار بتصرف ألمانيا ليس عيباً ولا مبالغة.

4. هناك فرق شاسع بين التمجيد والإشادة، والإشادة بتصرفات شعب في موضوع معين، لا تعني  أبداً تمجيدها وسياستها كدولة في كل المواضيع، ولا تعني عدم الإنتماء لبلادنا الأم، أو احتقارنا لعروبتنا.

وفي النهاية، إستقبال ومساعدة اللاجئين _في أي مكان في العالم_ هما بداية مشوار طويل في الإغاثة والإحتضان، المهم الاستمرارية في تأمين بيئة كريمة تحترم فيها إنسانية اللاجئ، وتوفر له سبل العيش الكريم دون “تحميل جمايل” ودون تذكيره بمأساته أو إشعاره أنه نكرة أو عبء أو أقل مستوى من غيره.

آملين أن يفرج الله كرب كل لاجئ أياً كان أصله، وأن يسهل على اخواننا السوريين وأن ينتهي هذا الكابوس الذي يعيشونه.

November 7 2014


All Israeli war crimes aside, I can’t believe the world is turning a blind eye to the detention of children by the “democratic” state of Israel.

This has to stop, this is insane, inhumane, intolerable, monstrous, unjustifiable and someone has to do something about it.


If politicians don’t f**king care, I’m sure fathers and mothers and caring people still have conscious, hearts and BRAINS! what threat could a child possible pose? Someone speak up and save those innocent children.


Israel detains a 6-year-old Palestinian.

Israel detains a 7-year-old Palestinian .

Israel detains a 5-year-old Palestinian.

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October 21 2014

Help Warm Up Winter for Gazans

As if death, destruction and psychological trauma weren’t enough to scar them for life, Gazans have to deal with hunger and face long harsh winters all alone.

Now that winter is already here, I really ask everyone, no matter where you’re living, no matter what your ethnicity or religion, to please remember those in need, especially those who are under siege and cannot get the help they need. Make this brutal season a warm one, make it a season to give.

Make winter for Gaza children a bit warmer!

Please DONATE! all they ask is $1. Yes, one single dollar can feed a child or keep him warm during winter. So next time you go out shopping for the latest fashion trends that will cost you at least $50, remember that all what a Gaza child needs is a $1 piece of garment that will keep him warm. 

September 29 2013

International Translation Day 2013

So it’s September 30th again, every translator is reminded to be proud today, to cherish the gift of knowing more than just one language, to be able to put this knowledge into something as helpful and as important as translation.

While almost everyone nowadays is bilingual by default, it takes a lot more than just speaking another language to be a translator. Skills aside, the most important thing I do believe is key to being a translator, is passion. You need to love everything about a language, be driven by this unstoppable desire to break the codes of languages just for the love of conveying a message, to help people around the world communicate, to bridge cultures, and be the link between two so different parties, or maybe two very similar ones that just happen to speak very different languages.

Translation is not just a profession, it’s power, it’s responsibility, it’s dedication, it’s energy, it’s art, it’s science, it’s logic, it’s creativity… it’s the determination to make this world a bit more beautiful, more colorful, a bit clearer, easier, and a lot more fun.
And as Paul Auster puts it:
“Translators are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another, who have enabled us to understand that we all, from every part of the world, live in one world.”

And since it’s a special occasion, I would like to remind all translators that nothing compares to the joy of helping someone in need. This year, try to be a more generous and more thoughtful translator. Volunteer to do some translation work for a charity in your community, reach out to poor individuals who need a translator so bad but can’t afford one, make the life of a sick person more hopeful by translating their documents for free… do anything to invest in this incredible gift of yours, and brighten the world one task at a time.

Happy International Translation Day to all the hard-working translators out there!

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May 21 2013

Palestinian Raed Zidan Reaches The Top of The World


[Source: MondoWeiss]

Raed Zidan, a PALESTINIAN- American, plants the Palestinian flag on top of Mount Everest, to be the first Palestinian to ever reach the summit of Everest.

Zidan dedicated his climb to Palestinians, especially political prisoners.

Way to go Zidan, not only did you make your family proud, but you made all Palestinians and pro-Palestinians extremely proud.
With this historical accomplishment, you’ll be forever remembered as the first Palestinian who marked the existence of Palestine on the highest Mountain on the face of this planet.

It is to be mentioned that Raed Zidan  is a member of the “Arabs with Altitude” group, consisting of 4 members, that include Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi woman to reach the top of Everest, Qatari Shaikh Mohammad Al-Thani, aka Moe Al Thani, and Iranian Masoud Mohammad. The group’s main goal is to raise a million dollars for the funding of Reach Out To Asia‘s educational projects in Nepal.

Category: Arab Societies, Charity & Human Aid, Media, International, Palestine | Comments Off on Palestinian Raed Zidan Reaches The Top of The World
May 18 2013

If You think a Watch Can Only Tell Time, Then Meet 1:Face Watch

There’s nothing I love more than a project with a purpose, a humanitarian one I mean. I’ve heard only recently about the 1:Face Watch, and immediately fell in love with everything about it: the high quality product, the cool fashionable design, and most importantly the idea of “changing the world, 1:Face at a time”.

So how does the 1:Face Watch change the world? it’s entirely up to the buyer; you choose the design, color and quantity of the watch(es) you wish to buy, and then decide how you prefer your money be spent. You can support breast cancer, or any other kind of cancer, fight hunger, provide drinking water, help preserve the environment, treat AIDS, or spread education. And the coolest thing is that through social media you can actually track the accomplishments being made in all mentioned fields, and see for yourself what’s being done with the money 1:Face Watch is receiving.

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August 10 2011

Ramadan; A Yearly Reminder

“How do you do that?”, “why do you do that?”, “for how long did you say?”,
“sorry, but I loooove my food, can’t imagine myself skipping all these meals…”

Many people fail to understand how such a harsh religious tradition could refine the soul and create more sensitive, sympathetic, and compassionate individuals in society.
This post is not really intended to preach anyone, nor change anyone’s mind about what they think of Ramadan. I’m actually writing to  remind Muslims who totally forgot about the spirit of their religion and are missing the point of its existence in the first place. So consider it a reminder, if you may, of the significance and the importance of this Holy Month.
Ramadan is not to “torture” the soul, or to “weaken” the body. It’s not cruel and it’s not meant to starve human beings. It’s simply a yearly wake-up call, to remind us that life doesn’t revolve around you or me, and that the planet is a place for all kinds of life to coexist in harmony. It’s a call to stop taking things for granted, contemplate, look around us, recognize others’ misery and misfortune, appreciate what we have, share it, give, work, and make this world a better place.
The long hours of fasting make it  hard, difficult, but it’s just a taste of what the less fortunate endure day after day, year after year, neglected, having to put up with their poverty, hunger, thirst and suffering while other parts of the planet are throwing away what would feed and quench the thirst of thousands of people.
Ramadan is a time to care for  hungry humans, animals, plants, the whole universe, in hope that your practices during this month will stick to you for as long as you may live.
But many Muslims are only abstaining themselves from eating and drinking alone,  missing out on the real spirit of the month, and many, so many, have given up on the whole fasting tradition altogether, claiming that you can be compassionate, and you can help others without torturing yourself… which is possible, but you can’t really feel what others feel until you’ve tried it yourself, not to forget that fasting does not mean limiting oneself to an abstinence from food and water, it’s about refining yourself from the core, meditating, taking a break from this materialistic world and getting in touch with your soul, testing its endurance and what it can accomplish even with the absence of the most basic elements of living. It’s all about being a better person and challenging yourself by depriving it from all that it has, so that you’d be in the shoes of the poor and helpless, just for a few hours, that’s all.

So please remember those in need, and please do help, not by words, but with real action. Donate, donate, donate. Thousands of people are starving to death every day, and thousands like them are dying out of thirst or the lack of access to clean water.

Go to Islamic Relief, choose your language, and pick one of the many donation options listed:  East Africa Crisis, Libya/ Yemen/ Syria Emergency Appeal, or any  Humanitarian Appeal to other countries that need your help such as Palestine, Pakistan… etc. Or to support projects that provide clean water, or help orphans and so on. The choice is yours, so little can do so much.

Category: Charity & Human Aid, Religion | Comments Off on Ramadan; A Yearly Reminder
June 4 2011

Stand Up For Justice In Palestine

Click here to view the embedded video.

Freedom OneWorld… Freedom For Palestine

Category: Charity & Human Aid, Cool Stuff, Media, International, Palestine | Comments Off on Stand Up For Justice In Palestine