Syrian Hassan al-Kontar, age 36, who has been stuck at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2) for half a year, is being deported one month after having been featured in a Nas Daily video last month. Mr. al-Kontar was arrested on Monday, October 1, and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Ironically enough, vlogger Nuseir Yassin, more commonly known as Nas, had only wanted to draw attention to Mr. al-Kontar’s plight in order to get some help for him. His 4-minute video of Mr. al-Kontar’s life at the KL airport highlighted the difficulties the asylum seeker experienced, which may have not gone over well with Malaysian authorities, such as not having a bed to sleep in, having to shower in cold water every day, and eating the same meal over and over again.
The video has been viewed 11 million times and shared over 176,000 times.
But Mr. al-Kontar had already posted videos about his difficult situation in the past. Many people are already familiar with the story of the Syrian who left his country to avoid military service, and worked in the United Arab Emirates from 2006 until 2011. From 2012, he has become “homeless, jobless and stateless,” according to his last tweet dated August 17.
Human rights groups have denounced the arrest and imminent deportation of Mr. al-Kontar, since he faces an uncertain and dangerous fate back home. But some Malaysians have said that Mr. al-Kontar had brought the arrest and deportation upon himself by putting the country in a bad light, particularly in the Nas Daily video.
According to Immigration Department police chief Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, the Syrian asylum seeker had become an embarrassment to the country.
Mr. Ali said that the Syrian national was arrested for having been staying in a “forbidden zone.”
“Passengers at the boarding area are supposed to get on their flights but this man did not do so. He is situated in a forbidden zone and we had to take the necessary action.”
He also said, “We will then communicate with the Syrian embassy to facilitate his deportation to his home county … We need to have closure here.”
Other Malaysians have considered Mr. al-Kontar to be a less than gracious guest, considering that he was being fed three times a day from donations of staff from Air Asia.
Malaysia had also considered allowing Mr. al-Kontar to stay in the country via a special pass. Last April caretaker deputy home minister Datuk Seri Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that Mr. al-Kontar could leave the airport “under the Syrian refugee programme. But before that happens, he will have to go through an extensive security process to ensure that he has no prior problems.”
This would, however take some time to process.
But Mr. al-Kontar had expressed his preference to be taken in by Canada as a political asylum seeker, since his family is there already.
It seems that Mr. al-Kontar was reluctant to take up the option Malaysia was giving him, deeming it a temporary solution that would not really improve his situation, since Malaysia has not actually offered him citizenship.
Commenters on social media did not discount the possibility that the Nas Daily Video may have inadvertently hastened Mr. al-Konta’s deportation