In the 2004 film The Terminal, Tom Hanks portrayed a man from a fictional eastern European country who was trapped in an airport without a country.
A Syrian man has found himself in a similar situation, unable to leave a Malaysian airport after losing his work permit. Now, a group of advocates from B.C. want to bring him to Canada.
Hassan Al Kontar had been working in the United Arab Emirates since 2011. After war broke out in his native country, he lost his work permit and the UAE deported him. He went to Malaysia on a temporary work visa, which has since expired.
He was turned away from a Turkish Airlines flight and has spent nearly two months inside the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
He fears if he returns to Syria he will be punished for evading military service.
Al Kontar has tried to get his story out through social media, using his Twitter account to reach out to Tom Hanks himself. He also reached out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We really need the minister of immigration to step in and help him get out of there,” Laurie Cooper, who is part of a team of Canadians lobbying the government to bring Al Kontar to B.C.
“We are set up to support and sponsor him here. One option is what’s called the temporary resident permit, which would allow Hassan to arrive in Canada and stay here while his application is being processed.”
Cooper said a job and place to live are already lined up for him in Whistler.
The B.C. Muslim Association is also stepping up to help.
“We have people in refugee camps,” Shawkat Hasan of the BC Muslim Association said. “We try to help them, we try to bring them here.
“He is considered in very difficult circumstances and we can sponsor him.”
His application was submitted days ago.
A GoFundMe page to help Al Kontar has raised more than $15,000.