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The Galaxy’s Baggio Husidic escaped war-torn Bosnia as a child. Now he wants the same chance for Syrian refugees

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Originally published by LA Times

Kevin Baxter

The video is more than two years old, the memories it evokes far older.

But for Baggio Husidic, the pain is still fresh.

In the tape, hundreds of Syrian refugees rush across an open field in an effort to escape Hungarian police when a camerawoman sticks out her left leg and trips Osama Abdul Mohsen, a 52-year-old man carrying his 7-year-old son. The man falls atop the boy who, frightened and hurt, begins to wail.

“That was really crushing to me,” Husidic, a Galaxy midfielder, says, his voice quavering. “Because that was literally my dad carrying us around.”

Husidic was 7 when his family fled the Bosnian War, a conflict that killed 100,000 and displaced 2.2 million more — many of them Muslim, like the Husidics — between 1992 and 1995.

“It was genocide,” he says. “People just don’t want to call it that.”

Over the last six years, those horrors have been repeated — only on a much larger scale — in Syria, where a civil war has resulted in more than 320,000 deaths and has forced more than 5 million to flee their homeland, according to the United Nations.

Many of those refugees are children, and Husidic sees himself in each of them. But there is a big difference between then and now, he says. Many Western countries, including the U.S., which welcomed Bosnian refugees, have turned their backs on the Syrians, citing fears of terrorism.

Husidic says he no longer can sit quietly by and watch the shunning happen.

Typically laid back and smiling, he goes cold talking about the international response to what the U.N. has called the worst refugee crisis since World War II. And he grows angry at politicians and the media who have added to the suffering by scapegoating Muslims.

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