An Exile Among Refugees on the Turkish Border

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In a recent story for TIME, Rania Abouzeid tells the story a 61-year old Syrian exile living in southern Turkey who, after leaving the political world of Syria more than 20 years ago, has entered into a new role as a “Father of Knights,” or “Abu al-Forsan” in Arabic. His knights are approximately 70 injured wounded Syrian refugees who he tends to in a Turkish hospital. This has angered the Syrian government, which has gone so far as to send his brother to tell him to stop. But the Father of Knights says he will not stop as long as there are refugees who need his help. Abouzeid writes:

But Abu al-Forsan won’t stop. At 11 a.m. one morning, he was barreling up the stairs of a hospital in Antakya, carrying bags of plastic slippers and knock-off Nike attire to distribute to the Syrian patients. He entered a room with two young men from the northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour. One had a bullet still lodged in his right eye; the other, who was also shot in the face, had a patch over his left eye. “Uncle, it’s good to see you,” the man with the patch said. “Tell me, what’s the news from Jisr? I can’t understand the news here, it’s all in Turkish!” The former Ba’athist recounted what he knew, before turning to the other young man, pulling his cell phone out of his back pocket, dialing a number, and handing it to him. “We found your brother. He’s in a camp. Here, talk to him.” The man was overjoyed.

For many Syrians — hurt, frightened and alone in a foreign country — Abu al-Forsan is the closest thing to family they have. The hospital visits benefit him too. He says they are a chance to right what he considers the wrongs of being in the Ba’ath Party. “I was 26 years old when I joined. I thought it was about pan-Arabism. I believed its motto of ‘unity, freedom and socialism,'” he says. “It was all lies. There was no freedom. The only place I’d dare open my mouth was at the dentist.”

Read the full story here.