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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

America also responsible says Syrian-born Michiganian

Ahmad Khodor

Ahmad Khodor, a Grand Rapids man born and raised in Syria, says he blames President Bashar Al Assad and the indifference of Western countries for the recent gas bombing of civilians that left between 60-100 people dead.

Khodor has been living in Michigan for over 30 years. He has graduate degrees from University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University and finally settled here in Grand Rapids. Still living in the country he called home until age 33, Khodor says has extended family, as well as friends living in Syria.

“But God knows where they are now because so many people who moved out were exiled, kind of.”

Though his family has largely left the area that was bombed this week, Khodor says he is familiar with it and has been there before.

“I know Kan Sheikhoun, it’s a very area, a farming area. The people are very simple and nice.”

There’s no doubt Khodor holds the Assad army responsible because of what he calls a tight grip and a history of brutality. But when I asked him what his relatives in Syria think of the situation, he said lack of electrical power and communications infrastructure make it hard to hear from them, but that even when he does, he says it’s hard to know.

“They avoid saying anything because they are still under the impression that they are listened to.”

Now, Khodor isn’t speculating. He once worked for the state-run telecommunications company and said they delayed telex lines for months while they found a way to wholesale spy on the population using them. As for this week’s attack, again he has no doubt it was Assad, but he holds Western countries, including the United States, responsible for the conflict’s continuation. 

“Those dictators they’re getting their strength from continuous support from the Western countries, from the advanced countries unfortunately.”    

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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