An interview with a Syrian war refugee

While staying in Jordan, roughly half of my coworkers were war refugees. Each had his own unique stories and experiences. I found time to talk to one, a late-30’s former taxi driver from Homs, a major rebel stronghold in the Syrian civil war. I’ll refer to him as Abu, a word meaning ¨father¨ that many Arab men use as part of their nickname.

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March 23rd, 2015

Into the Mild (ItM): How did you end up in Jordan?

Abu: It was very unsafe in Syria, I drove here with my family 13 months ago.

ItM: Why did you choose Jordan?

Abu: It was the only country that was accepting refugees without passports and I didn’t have a passport.

ItM: Are you working with any international aid agencies or non-governmental organizations here?

Abu: Yes, I am working with the UN. They are trying to get me a visa to live in Germany or Australia but I am nervous about the security check, I am still waiting to hear from them.

ItM: Why are you nervous about the security check?

Abu: Because other countries are not accepting refugees.

ItM: Do you plan to return to Syria eventually?

Abu: Yes, when it is safe. It must be safe for me to go back, but I want to stay there (Germany or Australia) permanently… My car, home, family, friends are all from Syria but I have no life left there.

ItM: Was life better under Assad?

Abu: Yes. But the war is good. I’m glad it’s happening.

ItM: What is your opinion on western intervention?

Abu: (It) Is nice because Daesh (Islamic State) is not Islam.

ItM: Are you devoutly religious?

Abu: Yes. (Abu is a Salafist, a strand that practices a strict and literalist version of Sunni Islam)

ItM: How do you feel about Islamic State (IS) claiming a caliphate?

Abu: This does not represent me or my religion.

ItM: Why do you feel there are not stronger protests against IS in the region?

Abu: I don’t know.

ItM: Why do they have so much popular support?

Abu: I don’t know. They have so much money, better weapons, (they) can take control of areas.

ItM: How do you feel about Jordan bombing IS targets in Syria?

Abu: I’m fine.

ItM: Do you support the Syrian government (against IS)?

Abu: No (agitated).

ItM: Do you know anyone in IS or the Syrian military?

Abu: No (agitated).

ItM: What do you imagine will happen (in Syria)?

Abu: I don’t know.

ItM: What do you hope will happen?

Abu: A new government

ItM: Would you return to Syria (with a new government)?

Abu: Yes, but only if it is safe. I have two children and my wife is pregnant. It must be safe.

ItM: Thank you for your time, I hope you’re in a better place before we talk next.

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Background of the Syrian conflict

A timeline for Islamic State

Background of my work & coworkers in Jordan

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