Palestinian poet and journalist Mazen Maarouf (right), who was granted temporary asylum in Iceland last September, spoke candidly about the circumstances that led to him being a refugee, and how his experience in Iceland has been so far.
Maarouf’s arrival was announced last September, but at the time high security protocols kept his name a secret from the press. He has been living in Iceland since then, and is currently working on a book.
Maarouf’s life story is a turbulent one. Born in Lebanon, when the portion of the country where he was living was annexed by Israel, his family fled to Palestine. Since then, he developed in interest in literary pursuits, as a writer, journalist and theatre critic. He is also a pacifist, and his outspoken criticism of groups which use violence for political gain has landed him in trouble more than once.
Three years ago, he told RÚV, he wrote an article about the death of a fellow journalist, and received the message that his own life was in danger. Since then, he has feared for his safety.
However, the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) found him shelter in Iceland. ICORN works with a network of about 50 cities around the world.
When asked the inevitable “how do you like Iceland?” question, he replied, “I feel much safer here, that’s for sure. There are nice people here, friendly and very helpful. They have showed me a lot of hospitality.”