Refugee family open Glasgow restaurant on Great Western Road after fleeing war in Syria

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A Syrian refugee family has opened their own restaurant in Glasgow after finding safety in the UK and years of hard work

Young dad Ashraf Salama manages the new Lotus restaurant in Great Western Road while his father Abdul Karim Salama is the chef.

Ashraf, 27, was forced to flee war torn Syria after he was imprisoned at the age of 13 for speaking out against the regime. He arrived in Glasgow in 2017 and launched his Lebanese and Syrian restaurant two months ago.

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Ashraf said: “I have started my life again with my family. I came here and I work. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. Glasgow is the best city in the UK because of the people and the life.”

Before arriving in the city, Ashraf worked in London getting experience in the trade. As a young teenager in Syria he was thrown into jail before being freed and moving to Lebanon and then London where he sought asylum.

Recalling the experience, Ashraf said: “I was in prison for 40 days. I didn’t see the sun. There were children and old people. I worried I would die. Everything in my life has a meaning since then. People take for granted having a coffee or walking in the street. People are scared to walk in the street in Syria. For me this is the life, this is freedom.”

Ashraf’s 62-year-old father Abdul has worked 16 hour days as a chef in London and Manchester and now enjoys cooking meals for customers in Scotland.

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Ashraf said: “If you open a business you have to work for it. The money doesn’t come from nothing. I enjoy the restaurant. I feel like it is my house. The best thing about Great Western Road is the customers. Glasgow is home. It is a great area to work in. Our customers like to try new things – we have vegetarian options and cater for allergies.”

Faten Hameed, of the Scottish Iraqi Association said: “This is an example of people who are building their lives with dignity and respect. They are paying back society and the country that provided them with a safe haven. They never wanted to live of the state.”

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