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
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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.