A Refugee Tells CNN How He Loves America After Escaping Persecution In Syria

Syrian Refugee Mostafa Hassoun Cites Exhaustive Interviews And Checks To Dismiss Idea That Refugees May Be Terrorists

From the January 30 edition of CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello:

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CAROL COSTELLO (HOST): I can't help but notice your scarf. Why did you decide to wear that today?

MOSTAFA HASSOUN: Because I'm living in this country, and I really love this country. So, this scarf.

COSTELLO: President Trump said that Syrian refugees, we just can't take the chance because some of them may be terrorists. How do you respond to that? 

HASSOUN: So I left my country in 2011, and I moved to Turkey after Assad started [inaudible]. So when I registered with the UNHCR, United Nations, I made a lot of interviews with them and a lot of checks. So I don't think there's anybody -- like any terrorism people – can come to this country because [there are] a lot of interviews, a lot of checks.

COSTELLO: Should Americans be afraid of Syrian refugees? 

HASSOUN: I don't think so. I'm living in an amazing city, and a lot of people welcome me. And I don't feel that at all. 

COSTELLO: If you were back in Syria, would it be safe for you?

HASSOUN: Absolutely no. Actually if I'm back to Syria, there's like two places in Syria, a kind of like regime area and like -- you can say it's like ISIS. And there's like space where the Free Syrian Army, but it's so small places. If I [go] back to Syria in the regime area, absolutely he will kill me because I protest him, and I don't like him. And if I [go] back to ISIS area, absolutely, would like to kill me too. There is no safe places in Syria to [go] back. 

COSTELLO: Why did you want to come to the United States?

HASSOUN: This is not my option, to come. I love this country and I want to come before, like the revolution in Syria, I want to come as a student. But I don't choose that. After interview with the UNHCR, I received a call from them, and told me my refugee file [was] accepted by United States, so that's why I came here. 

COSTELLO: Because very, very few Syrian refugees get to come to the United States. It's done by lottery, right? 

HASSOUN: There's not a lot of refugees. There's a lot of refugees in Syria and Turkey right now. Like 7 million refugees around like Syria, and Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan. The United States accepts 25,000. It's not a lot. There's a lot of people waiting for a new opportunity, to come for a new life.

COSTELLO: So my final question to you is just what would you like, during this anxious time for at least some Americans, what would you like to say to the American people? 

HASSOUN: To say [to] the American people, I want to just tell them -- I don't like [the word] “refugee.” I'm not happy to be a refugee. I would like to come to the United States as a visitor or like as a student. But this is not my choice, to come. I don't choose to be refugee. We don't have freedom in my country. So that's why I came here [to] this country.


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