The ongoing civil war in Syria has contributed to a mass exodus of people leaving their homes in pursuit of safety and a new beginning. The migration of millions of individuals and families has sparked controversy across Europe and the United States as the world grapples with how to balance welcoming in refugees while also protecting their own citizens. The Syrian refugees have been shown hospitality from some and faced outrage and fear from others who worry that a clash of cultures is too great to successfully integrate.
Lost in the headlines of proposals to completely ban Muslims or Arabs altogether, there are individuals and families who truly seek nothing but a life free of violence, war, and pain. While the Internet is filled with theorists who suspect that refugees are nothing more than terrorists in hiding, there are millions of human beings who wish for an opportunity to be treated as equals. To be certain, there have been reports of clashes with the residents of various nations who are accepting refugees. But is this the fault of the refugees, the residents, or simply ignorance on both parts?
To get to the bottom of this, one must begin to look at the situation without prejudice and recognize that all humans are individuals with their own unique perspectives and ideas. While some refugees may have their own vision of transforming their host nation, there are others who want to learn and grow in their new home. By the same token, for every accepting and loving citizen of a host nation there are also ignorant bigots who reject foreigners automatically.
Since 2011, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have risked their lives to make it to the shores of Greece. While many of these people have been resettled thousands more remain stranded in legal limbo. They are caught between Europeans who welcome them with open arms and increasingly “far-right” political groups who seek to ban refugees and their religious beliefs.
In an attempt to shine a light on the human side of the refugee crisis, a new documentary will follow the journey of one man from Syria to the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece. In April, filmmaker Jeremy Martin spent a week at Idomeni with refugees gathering video content, making contacts, and researching the migration crisis. While at Idomeni, Martin met Adbullah, a refugee from Deir ez-Zor, Syria, a city destroyed by Syrian, Russian, and NATO bombs and now controlled by ISIS. Abdullah and his friends share their stories of reaching Europe and ask whether taking the journey and risking their lives was a worthy endeavor.
“In the film we find out from refugees who they think is to blame for their crisis, where they place hope, and what options they have ahead of them,” Martin told Activist Post. “We look at why they left home, what they’ve encountered along the way, and how ending up in Greece has changed their lives. We try to understand how it feels to live every day from one to the next in complete uncertainty about the future as we perceive the refugee crisis Through Abdullah’s Eyes.”
Jeremy Martin is planning to return to Greece to continue documenting the refugees’ journey as they seek asylum abroad. When asked how his film will handle the negativity and bigotry faced by some of the refugees, Martin said his film “aims to color the word refugee with the personalities of refugees that remind you that we’re so much more alike than we imagined, but because of the politics, whatever they may be, they equate to time lost in limbo as resources grow thin, tempers rise, and Europe’s far right keeps gaining momentum.”
It’s easy for armchair activists and Internet commentators to judge others and make assumptions about individuals based on their religion, the color of their skin, or their country of origin, but at the end of the day we are all individuals. Lovers of liberty, human rights advocates, and refugees can all learn to approach each other with kindness, grace, and compassion. Until we are capable of learning to judge every individual by their character and their actions we will be easily divided and manipulated.
Derrick is available for interviews.
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