In Syria, Hatem worked as an actor, a Dervish Dancer and also a drama teacher. He was an activist as well and, like four of his activist friends who were killed, this made him a target.
Hatem’s brother was a surgeon’s assistant helping to treat the injured, but one day, he was struck and killed by the bullet of a sniper. Soon after, Hatem too was walking and hit, by a random artillery shell. He endured shrapnel wounds to his neck as a field hospital was able to repair an artery. Some shrapnel is still in his neck. After the death of his brother, the killing of his friends and Hatem’s own injury, despite a lack of financial resources, it became clear that he had to find a way out.
Hatem took his family with him and tried to remain in Syria by moving on to Raqqa. However, ISIS took over their region soon thereafter so Hatem, his parents and sister fled again, this time along a road where almost every car around them faced bombings by militant forces. They miraculously made it Turkey and settled in Urfa.
Hatem began putting on theater shows about the Syrian war. This angered ISIS sympathizers and Hatem was threatened and then kidnapped by militants. He was freed with the help of Turkish friends and ultimately fled with his parents to Istanbul where they remain.
The family is being supported by Hatem’s younger sister’s income from working in a fragrance factory. Hatem is unable to pursue Dervish Dancing because of the injuries he suffered. Setting aside his political oriented shows, he continues to seek work as an actor.