(ESSAY) For Syrian Refugees, Even Jail Is Paradise

December, 2013                                                                         Al Jazeera America

“I know a woman in Izmir who has tried three times to make it to Greece by boat,” a Syrian traveler named Ammar told me.

“What happened?” I asked.
Asylum seekers in Turkey.  Ali Balli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“Three times it sank, ” he replied
We met in the rooftop bar of the Nomade Hotel in Istanbul, enjoying the spectacular view of the domes and minarets of the Blue Mosque. I was in town with my friend Tzeli for a symposium celebrating Semiha Es, Turkey’s first female photojournalist, and we were chatting with Colleen, a woman from Philadelphia who had been traveling the world for almost two years.

 That morning Colleen told me she was heading to Athens the next day, but then she was talking about going to Geneva or the U.S. instead. Her face glowed blue from her laptop screen as she clicked through plane fares on a discount travel site. “I don’t know. Maybe I should go to the States for a bit,” she said, tapping on the keyboard. “It’s so cheap now. My dad is 84. I could see him for Christmas.” Tap, tap. “But Geneva is so great in the winter!” (more)


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