Refugee rights activist Hassan Akkad is Hiwar Speaker

February 01, 2022
Hassan Akkad, an author and documentary filmmaker, will speak at Northwestern Qatar about his work advocating for refugee rights as part of the Hiwar Speaker series.
Joining a community-wide discussion moderated by Professor Rana Kazkaz, Akkad will discuss his experience as a refugee fleeing the civil war in Syria and resettling in Europe; and his work providing a voice for many unheard refugee stories through his films and published work.
Northwestern Qatar Dean and CEO Marwan M. Kraidy says Akkad’s work as an activist and filmmaker advocating refugee rights underscores the importance of storytelling in impacting positive change and shedding light on societal challenges. “Mr. Akkad is a prominent voice for refugee rights whose work sheds light on many underreported aspects of one of the biggest refugee movements in modern history,” said Kraidy. “His work showcases the impact our work as journalists and storytellers can have when centering the experiences of marginalized voices.”
Akkad’s career as a documentary filmmaker began at the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2012 when he used his smartphone camera to document the journeys of one of 12 million refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea for refuge. As part of the production team of the award-winning documentary Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, his clips were then used in the film to capture the horrors of the migration crisis and the stories of refugees crossing to Europe.
In the years after arriving in London, Akkad continued his advocacy for refugee rights and went on to raise awareness about the living conditions of marginalized immigrant cleaners working in isolation wards in hospitals across London. Focusing on mobilizing people on social media, Akkad became a prominent voice in the UK and beyond calling for the rights of refugees and has since been featured in Vogue, Al Jazeera, the Guardian, BBC News, and The Independent
“Akkad is a prominent voice for refugee rights whose work sheds light on many underreported aspects of one of the biggest refugee movements in modern history”
- Marwan M. Kraidy, dean and CEO of Northwestern Qatar
In his book, Hope Not Fear, Akkad captures his story as a refugee, filmmaker, hospital cleaner, and finally an activist after being forced to flee his civil war in his country and makes a case for the triumph over adversity and for standing together and uniting in kindness.
Banu Akdenizli, associate professor of communication at Northwestern Qatar, said, “Mr. Akkad’s work on refugee rights forces us to take a look at issues facing our societies beyond the lens of politicians and mainstream media and to center the rights of refugees and marginalized voices when discussing solutions to the refugee crisis and other issues affecting people around the world.”
The Hiwar Speaker event with Akkad is open to the public and will feature him in conversation with Kazkaz, examining topics in social media activism and documentary-making. The webinar will take place on Wednesday, February 7, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. (Doha time).