Syrian terminal refugee: I'm still receiving hate from Malaysia

PETALING JAYA - Syrian refugee Hassan al-Kontar, who was stranded in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) for more than eight months in 2018, says he is still receiving hate comments from Malaysia.

He also said still carried the burden of knowing that many other refugees did not made it to safety like himself.

"I am still receiving hate comments, and that is very hard.

"The hate is strong, especially from Malaysia and the Arab world, even from Syria - they always find something to criticise. For some, I betrayed my country; for others, I'm a coward who ran away from his duties," he told British daily The Guardian.

"Whistler (Canada) is an amazing place. There is nothing but nature, fresh air, wonderful people and beautiful snow," said Hassan.

It was reported in October 2018 that Hassan refused refuge offers in Malaysia and other countries. He insisted that he only wanted asylum from Canada, but that his application could take as long as two years to be approved.

"We cannot let him stay at the airport for two years," said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman at the time.

"He also refused to go to other countries that were willing to accept him as a refugee,"

In addition, Hassan ruled out returning to his home country, claiming he likely would have to enlist in compulsory military service.

According to several news reports, it is compulsory for Syrian men between the ages of 18 to 42 to serve in the military, with those evading it facing imprisonment or were forced to serve in the military.

He gained online fame when he posted videos of his life at the airport terminal on social media, which attracted the attention of human rights groups and the media.