The Terminal Man

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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In case you were wondering, this post has nothing to do with Michael Crichton’s mind control novel with the same title. Rather it is about people with no minds trying to control the rest of us.

Strange, as well as stupid, people feature on the fasab blog.

None come stranger than Mehran Karimi Nasseri, also known as Sir, Alfred Mehran (yes, including the comma).

Nasseri is an Iranian refugee who was expelled from Iran in 1977 for protests against the Shah. After a long battle, involving applications in several countries, he was awarded refugee status by the United Nations High Commission for refugees in Belgium which permitted him residence in any European country.

He claimed to have one British parent, although he produced no evidence to support this, and decided to settle in the UK in 1986.  But en route to there, in 1988, he claimed that he was mugged and his shoulder bag stolen while waiting at the RER platform to go to Charles de Gaulle Airport to take a flight to Heathrow.

When he tried to go to the United Kingdom, Nasseri managed to board the plane, but when he arrived at Heathrow, London without the necessary documentation, immigration officials sent him back to Charles de Gaulle airport.

Unable to prove his identity, or his refugee status, to the French officials, he was initially arrested and moved to the Zone d’attente (waiting zone), a holding area for travelers who do not have papers. However, due to the fact that his entry to the airport was legal he was released, but, since he had no country of origin to be returned to, he began his residence in the departure lounge of Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airport on August 8, 1988.

Mr. Nasseri’s predicament was made into a movie in 1993 entitled ‘Tombes du Ciel’, starring Jean Rochefort, Ticky Holgado, and Marisa Paredes. And he was reportedly the inspiration behind the 2004 movie ‘The Terminal’, starring Tom Hanks.

However, unlike Hanks’ character in the movie, and since at least 1994, Nasseri did not live in the duty-free transit area, but simply in the departure hall, in the circular boutiques and restaurants passage on the lowest floor.

Theoretically he could leave the terminal at any moment, although, since everyone knew him, his departure might not remain unnoticed. He did not seem to speak with anyone normally.

With his cart and bags, he almost looked like a traveler, so people either did not notice him or ignored him as if he were a homeless person. Airport workers were kind enough to give him food.

In 1992, his case was taken on by French human rights lawyer Christian Bourget. However, in one of those absurd rulings that idiot bureaucrats and judges can only dream up, the French courts ruled that, having entered the country legally, he could not be expelled from the airport, but neither could it grant him permission to enter France.

Attempts were then made to have new documents issued from Belgium, but the authorities there would only do so if Nasseri presented himself in person. However, under Belgian law a refugee who voluntarily leaves a country that has accepted him cannot return.

In 1995, the Belgian authorities granted permission for him to return, but only if he agreed to live there under supervision of a social worker. Nasseri refused this on the grounds of wanting to enter the UK as originally intended.

In July 2006, eighteen years later (yes, that’s 18 years!) Nasseri’s stay at the Charles de Gaulle Airport ended when he was hospitalized and his sitting place dismantled.

Towards the end of January 2007, he left the hospital and was looked after by the airport’s branch of the French Red Cross. He was lodged for a few weeks in a hotel close to the airport.

On March 6, 2007, he transferred to an Emmaus charity reception centre in Paris’s twentieth arrondissement. As far as I know he may still be there.

And you thought US immigration took a long time!

The Terminal Man - Mehran Karimi Nasseri
The Terminal Man – Mehran Karimi Nasseri

 

7 thoughts on “The Terminal Man

      • Watching it, and loving it. I really like Kelsey, and he’s doing an interesting job of playing a lovable bastard – or a bastardly love, I’m not sure which. The City Council SHOULD be shoving itself into the picture more, but I understand poetic license. And it is SO sweet to see the city in the background. I miss Chicago! 😦

  1. I’m wondering if he received any royalties from the two films based on his story, he certainly should have as he clearly didn’t gain any progress in his case from the publicity.

    • He doesn’t look the type to me. But you’re correct, he should have sold his story. If I was held up in an airport for 18 hours let alone 18 years I’d be looking for some kind of compensation.

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