Tripped Syrian refugee hopes camerawoman gets punished

'It is so inhumane to trip up a father trying to escape with his son,' says Mohsen

Tripped Syrian refugee hopes camerawoman gets punished

By Alyssa McMurtry, Feyza Süsal


The Syrian refugee who was tripped by a Hungarian camerawoman, arrived in Madrid late last night, where he has been offered a job and accommodation.

The refugee, Osama Abdul Mohsen, was a professional football coach in Syria's premier league team El Fotuwa SC before the war broke out. After the war he was one of many refugees, desperately scrambling with his son to find safety.

Mohsen has become famous after a video showed him tumbling to the ground while holding his young son after being obviously tripped by Petra Laszlo, a Hungarian camerawoman. In a second footage, Laszlo is also seen kicking a little girl who is trying to flee police on a field on the Hungarian-Serbian border.

"I will never forget her or that moment all my life. I hope she will pay for what she did and be brought to justice. It is so inhumane to trip up a father trying to escape with his son," he told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview at his new home in Madrid.

After learning of Mohsen's story, Miguel Ángel Galán, president of Spain's National Football Coach Training Center CENAFE, decided to dip into the center's publicity budget to pay for the train journey from German city of Munich to Spain and accommodation for Mohsen and his family.

The training center hopes that Mohsen will start work soon with the football school.

"It was my dream and now it will become true. I am blissful for that," he told Anadolu Agency.

Around midnight Wednesday, Mohsen arrived with his two sons, Zaid, 7 and Mohammad, 18 to a media storm at the Atocha railway station.

"All, I love you, thank you very much," he told reporters as he and his sons briefly posed for pictures.

The three arrived by rail from Munich, after stopping to pick up the older son in Germany, who had emigrated there earlier from Syria.

The reunion was, however, incomplete. Mohsen's wife and two more children are currently in Turkey's southern coastal province of Mersin, where they migrated to over a year ago. Galán has said he will do everything in his power to also bring them to Spain.

"I want to start my new life here together with them. I will do whatever I can and bring them here within in a couple of weeks, said Mohsen during the interview.

Mohsen, bursting into tears at times as he spoke, also called on the international community to "help thousands of refugees taking to the roads to Europe with knowing little of a life or future there."

"I want this problem to be solved," he said.

Asked of his hopes of ever returning to his homeland in Syria, Mohsen added: "I will, one day, when the war is over, but will never forget Spain."

Mohsen has an appointment Friday at the Spanish Interior Ministry to submit his asylum application, but has to wait at least for six months to be granted asylum with a residence permit after he gets a "red card" signifying international protection as a refugee.

Last week Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that Spain will accept a total of 17,680 refugees to Spain. This is the third highest quota among European countries, after Germany and France.

On Tuesday, Cristina Cifuentes, the leader of the autonomous Community of Madrid, presided over the inaugural opening of a refugee center to coordinate resources and help incoming refugees. It is estimated that the Community of Madrid will take in 2,400 Syrian refugees.

"Together, we've put in action, in record time, all the available resources, that are now ready to help the refugees who come," said Cifuentes to El Pais, one Spain's leading newspapers.

On the municipal level, a network of  "safe cities" has been launched, to make it easier for refugees to settle throughout the country.

Barcelona's new mayor, Ada Colau, started the initiative by launching a register for families willing to provide shelter or other help for refugees. Now, dozens of cities and towns are doing the same throughout the country, with citizens actively offering assistance.

Spain, though, is not necessarily the top destination for many refugees. The unemployment rate still hovers around 22 percent, and although the economy has been growing, it is still suffering the consequences of the economic crisis. 

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