Saturday 25 November 2017

Migrant tripped by camerawoman 'wants to forget'

Hungarian camerawoman, center left in blue, kicks out at a young migrant who had just crossed the border from Serbia near Roszke Hungar
Hungarian camerawoman, center left in blue, kicks out at a young migrant who had just crossed the border from Serbia near Roszke Hungar

James Badcock in Madrid

One year after images of Osama Abdul Mohsen being tripped as he attempted to carry his young son away from police on the Hungary-Serbia border were beamed around the world, the Syrian refugee has said he wants to forget about the antics of Hungarian camerawoman Petra Laszlow.

"I don't think about her," he said about Ms Laszlow, who has been charged with disorderly conduct for kicking out at several migrants whom the Hungarian police were trying to round up on September 8, 2015.

"I forget about her because I am looking for my family and my future. I don't know any news about her now. I think she doesn't have a job. Some people in Hungary hate this woman and she is angry for this."

Speaking from his office at the Cenafe football coaching academy near Madrid, Mr Mohsen said he wanted to move on from "the stress and pain" of last summer's flight across Europe, a trauma he wishes to close by being reunited with his wife, who remains in Turkey with two of the couple's four children.

After seeing images of Mr Mohsen and his son Zaid, now eight, being tripped by Ms Laszlow, Cenafe chairman Miguel Ángel Galán invited the Syrian football professional to resume his coaching career in Spain.

Mr Mohsen arrived in Madrid last September with Zaid and another son, 17-year-old Mohammed, who had also left the refugee camps in Turkey and crossed into Europe.

They received a hero's welcome, including a night at Real Madrid's Bernabéu stadium with Zaid holding Cristiano Ronaldo's hand as match mascot. But Spanish bureaucracy is not proving to be so generous to Mr Mohsen.

"I have sent in all the documents for asylum for my wife, but it is very slow. She asks me on the telephone 'Why do I have to wait?' Here in Spain I have a job and I have food but it is very difficult for the family to be separated. Zaid is very small and every night he cries for his mama."

Cenafe provides Mr Mohsen and his two sons, who attend Spanish schools, with an apartment in Getafe, near the academy's headquarters, and a monthly salary of €1,200.

Mr Mohsen said this money had allowed him to install his wife, son and daughter in Mersin, southern Turkey, in a house, rather than an emergency shelter.

Now he is concerned that his contract with Cenafe runs out in two months, and he is unsure of what his financial future will be after that. Cenafe's Mr Galán said some arrangement will be made to maintain Mr Mohsen.

"We are not going to leave him up a creek without a paddle, but he really needs to learn Spanish. This is an enormous limitation in terms of coaching and working here. I don't understand why he doesn't learn more, like his sons have done."

Irish Independent

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