Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A man from another country flies to an airport, but then is stranded there because the country won’t let him in and he can’t get back. So he lives in the airport — for seven months — until he finally catches a break.
And stop me if you’ve heard this before: When it comes to decency and open arms, nobody beats Canada these days.
Aside from some plot twists, Hassan al-Kontar’s story is reminiscent of Tom Hanks’ role in “The Terminal.” In this case al-Kontar was in Malaysia, living in Kuala Lampur’s Terminal 2.
He fled Syria in 2006 to avoid being drafted into the military.
“I’m not a killing machine and I don’t want any part in destroying Syria,” he told the BBC earlier this year.
He fled to the UAE, but when he lost his work permit because his passport expired, he was deported to Malaysia, which refused him entry. He wanted to go to Ecuador. Ecuador wouldn’t let him in. Neither would Cambodia. He was stuck at the airport.
Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months.
— Hassan Al Kontar (@Kontar81) August 21, 2018
Airport employees helped him out, bringing him food and washing his clothes. In July a janitor propped a door open so he could experience something he hadn’t in months: fresh air.
2 minutes to remember, for the first time in 122 days they open a door for the outside world and I could feel the heat and breath a fresh air.
This is what I call a great day⚘👍#syrian_stuck_at_airport #mystory_Hassan #airport_is_my_home pic.twitter.com/4tXyxhksER
— Hassan Al Kontar (@Kontar81) July 7, 2018
He asked NASA for a flight to Mars because there’s nothing for him on this planet, he said. He posted video updates on Twitter until he was arrested last month for entering an area without a boarding pass, leading to fears he was to be deported to Syria.
This week, however, he found out he’s being rescued by a nation that welcomes huddled masses yearning to breathe free: Canada.
Breaking news ✌✌ pic.twitter.com/o2vQGROBdS
— Hassan Al Kontar (@Kontar81) November 26, 2018
At the urging of Laurie Cooper, a media relations consultant in Whistler, B.C., people crowdsourced the money to sponsor al-Kontar, a law school graduate. The process usually takes about 26 months, the Guardian reported. Canada officials did it in eight.
“I spent the day washing the sheets and making up the bed in my guest room for him,” Cooper told The Guardian on Sunday.
“It all seemed impossible: I’m a mom who lives in a little log cabin and he was living in an airport,” said Cooper.
In other words: she gave a damn.