George Clooney talks about Irish ancestry in moving video with Syrian refugees
Hollywood superstar George Clooney has spoken about the intolerance his Irish ancestors were subjected to when they first arrived in America.
The actor was speaking with Syrian refugees in Berlin in a moving video which gave a personal insight into the terrible hardships they had suffered.
Clooney was chatting to the families with his wife, British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal.
Clooney discussed his own heritage and pointed out that not so long ago, his family were in a similar position to the refugees. He said: “I am of Irish descent and in America a hundred years ago we were refugees, my family. Irish were treated terribly in America for a period of time and not accepted.”
The video sees the refugees tell their stories, and it is humbling to hear the violence and terror they endured first hand which forced them to flee their homes.
One woman describes how she expected to die and prayed that her and her children would be shot, as it is more merciful than being beheaded. A man describes being tortured in political prison.
The stories of the refugees struck a personal chord with Amal Clooney, whose own family fled Beirut in 1982 to escape civil war.
She explained: “My own family is from Lebanon and they also ran away from a war. Many years later everybody’s doing well and my father has returned to Beirut. I hope that you will be able to go back to a safe and free Syria.”
The video is very moving and Clooney ends the film by personally recognising the problems that the refugees have suffered. He said: “You forget that these aren’t just people who have left their country for no reason at all. They have left because of incredible tragedy, and they are people who had real lives, normal lives, and their worlds were destroyed and blown up.
“It’s too much to talk about giant numbers, it’s actually easy to dismiss giant numbers but it’s very hard to dismiss a young child sitting on the ground crying when her mother is telling a story about how she left, how she grabbed her daughter and sat on the ground and said ‘if I die we want to die by a bullet because it would be quicker’.
“We, as what we’d like to think of, a civilised world, a nation, always look around at the end of these tragedies and say ‘if we knew we would have done something’, and the reality is of course we know.”
You can take a look at the emotional video below.