VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Ibrahim Saker is about to do, for the second time, a thing that would have had him thrown in jail back home; ally with the queer community.
Saker hails from the coastal city of Latakia, Syria’s main port and traditionally, a great place for seafood and soccer matches, according to those in the know. It’s also the birthplace of the earliest known alphabet.
But even in the ancient Aegean city, it’s not safe for anyone to be openly LGBTQ+ and it’s unheard of for a straight ally to defend anyone who is outed as LGBTQ+.
Saker is here on a student visa. With only three years remaining and his future uncertain, he’s taking a brave stance by lending his musical talents to the annual An Evening In Damascus Fundraiser at the Terminal City Club on July 26.
“My message in music is to deliver peace in the world and help in anyway,” he says, which is why he wanted to help at the fundraiser.
He has been pleasantly surprised by both the multiculturalism in Vancouver and the connections within the refugee community here.
“I see a lot of collaboration between Syrians in general in Canada because coming out of the country, out of the conflict zone, many opinions would unite and even coordinate and live with each other and love each other because now … we can relate more to being a Syrian.”
Saker plays the oud, an ancient Middle Eastern string instrument recognizable for its fretless design and pear-shaped body.
In less than a week “Biro” will take the stage @ An Evening in Damascus fundraiser and grace the crowd with his traditional Syrian oud music. Here’s a sneak peak as long as twitter allows. Tickets: https://t.co/P2qY8PH9Dk pic.twitter.com/MnBvjYtKAs
— Ash Kelly (@AshDKelly) July 18, 2019
But the 26-year-old has been in Canada for two years studying at UBC, and isn’t sure if he can go home.
Unlike millions of his countrymen, women, and children who have fled Syria as refugees in the years since civil war took hold, Saker came to Canada as a student of political science.
When his visa expires in three years he will try for a working permit and hopes to stay in Canada.
“I really miss home. It’s been two years, I cannot go back home now,” he says. Saker FaceTimes with his parents each day but wishes he could give them a “real hug.”
In the meantime, he plans to play his best for those benefiting from An Evening In Damascus, which works with the Rainbow Refugee Society to help queer refugees find safety in Canada.
“It’s definitely something that I didn’t see back home. Those people have their freedom here, they have the freedom to express themselves and be who they want to be and to say it to all people, to publicly state it. That’s a huge thing, I’m really happy for that,” he says.
If you want to be a part of the magic and help bring more refugees to safety and freedom, set aside the evening of July 26. RBC Presents An Evening In Damascus, featuring Syrian food, music, belly dancing and drag queens, will take place at Terminal City Club in Vancouver.
Tickets are on sale at EveningInDamascus.com.
For $40 you can donate a ticket to a queer refugee or attend yourself for $65 online or $75 at the door.
Editor’s note: NEWS 1130 is a media sponsor for An Evening in Damascus.