Syrian brothers seek refuge in Belfast

IMG_68421-1024x682Caelainn Hogan at Harper's Magazine:

On a gray Sunday in Belfast, police stood cross-armed in front of a line of armored jeeps, primed like racehorses in the stocks. They formed a barricade across a wide shopping street in the center of the city, starting at Poundworld and cutting off the KFC from the Disney Store one door down. The street was an eventual meeting point of the famous Falls and Shankill roads, the thoroughfares of West Belfast’s predominantly Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, divided by a looming peace wall. A solid concrete barricade topped with metal fencing, the wall runs for miles along the lonely bend of Cupar Way, rising higher than a double-decker bus. One of many peace lines built up more than four decades ago to prevent clashes between the two communities, on one side of the wall, fenced-off estates fly the English Cross of Saint George, while on the other, houses hang the Irish tricolor. Spike-topped security gates stand at the point at which the peace line crosses Lanark Way, traffic streaming through during the day. But the gates still shut automatically at designated times, barricading one side from the other.

That morning, Khaled Berakdar, his head and face freshly shaven, nipped down a back alley lane, making his way through empty streets and past the line of police, to meet his younger brother Ibrahim. With slicked-back hair and a thick beard, Ibrahim was sporting a rubber bracelet that read “Syria.” They embraced before making their way towards the Falls, where a crowd was mustering for a parade in honor of the Irish uprising against the British.

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