A look at one young Syrian refugee's journey through Europe
Mohamad al-Masalmeh, 21, is one of 2.5 million Syrian refugees. After his cousin, a freelance reporter for Al-Jazeera, was killed by a sniper in his Syrian hometown, the young man decided to start documenting the brutal events happening in his country. He dreams of becoming a reporter like his cousin.
Syria has been involved in a civil war since March 2011. Since then, hundreds of thousands of lives have been taken, and millions of Syrians continue to be displaced from their homes as the war stretches on in the country.
Photographer Matteo Bastianelli of Rome, Italy, began following al-Masalmeh throughout his journey from Bulgaria to Germany beginning in December 2013. Aiming to highlight the problems with immigration and analyze the consequences of the war in Syria, Bastianelli spent three weeks in the refugee camp with the young man. For another three weeks, he followed al-Masalmeh’s journey across Europe. Bastianelli last saw him in January when he started his application to be granted asylum in Germany.
“For me it is important to understand how political-social instability of our time is undermining the traditional concept of reception and the right to political asylum for refugees fleeing from a conflict,” Bastianelli told msnbc.
Bastianelli plans to return to Germany this spring to document al-Masalmeh’s daily life there. He said he hopes the public can witness the refugees “from another viewpoint, placing them in a setting of great history, not as an indistinct flux of immigrants who invade European countries, but rather as the umpteenth fringe victims of man’s brutality.”
The photographer described his experience following al-Masalmeh as “shocking.”
“He is just a 21-year-old guy and he is experiencing something bigger than him, far away from his country and his family,” he said. “That’s really shocking.”
Bastianelli also is working on a documentary film, “Taqsim — Here, but somehwere else,” which follows al-Masalmeh’s journey to Europe.