Raed Saleh, Syrian leader of rescue group ‘The White Helmets,’ will attend Oscars

Raed Saleh, the leader of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Syrian rescue group the White Helmets and subject of the Oscar-nominated Documentary Short of the same name announced Friday (Feb. 17) that he will travel to the U.S. in order to attend the Academy Awards. President Donald Trump‘s recent immigration ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries, which has since been overturned by the courts, had called into question whether he would attend.

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In making the announcement, Saleh said, “We are eagerly looking forward to coming to the Oscars. It will give us an important platform for the voices of Syrian children and women trapped under the rubble as a result of the airstrikes and artillery shelling, and for the voices of thousands of displaced Syrians who have been forced from their homes.”

“The White Helmets” director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara, said, “We are utterly delighted at the prospect of Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, and Khaled Khatib joining us on the red carpet at the Oscars. The White Helmets are among the most inspiring humanitarians we have ever known and it is the greatest honor to share a global platform where their incredible work can be recognized. They are not yet on U.S. soil, and we await their arrival with a tense anticipation. In these uncertain times, their story is one of the most moving of our generation. We stand ready to welcome them.”

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Khatib, an active White Helmet and Syrian national who is the cinematographer of the documentary added, “I was 16 when the revolution started. In the first few years of the uprising I saw a lot of foreign photojournalists and TV crews come to document what was happening in my city of Aleppo. I watched them, dreaming that I could do that: tell the story of my city and my people. When I saw the work of the White Helmets, I knew that was the story of Syria I wanted to tell to the world.”

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