Last Updated: May 16. 2011 2:42PM
Flint parents say 11-year-old daughter stranded in Syria
Oralandar Brand-Williams / / The Detroit News
Southfield —A Flint man and his wife say their 11-year-old daughter is stranded in Syria, unable to leave because of violence sweeping the Middle East.
Ahmad and Wisam Alouh say their daughter, Sara, has been in the Syrian town of Dara’a since last year, where she went to study Arabic and live with her grandparents. The town has been under siege as the government is cracking down on a two-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Since March, Syrian troops have killed about 700 demonstrators who, like others in the Middle East, are peacefully demanding democratic reforms.
“As parents we need our Sara back,” Ahmad Alouh, a pharmacist, said during a press conference today at the office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR-MI) in Southfield.
“My concern is my daughter. I understand the concern of other parents as well.”
The parents said their daughter first tried to leave in November, but was prevented by government officials. Since the crackdown began in March, communications have been increasingly difficult and the family hasn’t heard from Sara first-hand, Ahmad Alouh said.
The Alouhs have received word from someone via satellite phone in Dara’a that their daughter is OK but they are longing to talk to her and get her back home.
Sara’s mother, Wisam Alouh, said Sara’s younger siblings have been asking about their sister.
“It’s very difficult,” Wisam Alouh said. “They are asking about her every day. It’s very sad.”
The family has enlisted the help of CAIR-MI and U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit. Clarke said he is going to ask the European Union to put pressure on Syrian officials to return the girl and other Americans who may not be able to get out of Syria.
Clarke added he will talk to the White House about extended sanctions against Syria and for the U.S. government to freeze the assets of Assad.
“This is a terrible thing that is happening to this family,” Clarke said today.
CAIR-MI staff attorney Lena Masri, who is Syrian-American, said the area where Sara Alouh is staying with her grandparents is the scene of continued bloodshed.
“Close to a thousand protestors have been reportedly killed throughout the country … and hundreds in the city of Dara’a long,” Masri said. “Video footage apparently recorded in Dara’a show unarmed protestors shot and killed by snipers from rooftops — men, women and children alike.”
CAIR-MI also called on the Syrian and the U.S. governments’ assistance in the emergency evacuation of the girl.