If you've been following world news lately then you should be keenly aware of the perilous situation currently unfolding in Syria, where thousands upon thousands of people are attempting to flee violence and persecution. This has triggered a flood of refugees leaving the war-torn country and heading to Europe, hoping to find asylum and a new life.
Mood in Europe has been mixed - some feel wealthy nations should take on as many migrants as possible while others feel the borders should be closed as the cost of housing these displaced individuals is too high. To address this sensitive topic, a 29-year-old Syrian man now based in Turkey has used one of the world's most recognisable characters in a video which showcases the dangers refugees face when then decide to flee their own country:
A lot of my friends have fled for Europe. From talking to them I built a clear idea of what they went through and the life threatening risks they took.
Five months ago my best friend drowned in the sea while travelling from Ismir (Turkey) to Greece. The engine on the boat exploded. That's when I got the idea for the video.
It needed to be a simple and clear idea which would work irrespective of language. I used Super Mario because it's famous all over the world. It's like music - a universal language.
The man - who operates under the pseudonym Samir Al-Mufti - has been overwhelmed by the reaction online. The video was uploaded to YouTube by Online For Media Production, which makes satirical political content, often focused on Syria. The clip has since attracted a wide audience, and is nearly at 100,000 views:
That surprised me. It's not just Syrian people watching this. People all over the world are talking about it.
Samir is not simply some trouble-maker looking for fame. Originally from the battle-scarred city of Homs, he fled his homeland in 2011. Before the revolution, he studied at Homs University and worked in a company as a PR officer. It would be the killing of two of his brothers in the civil war that caused Samir to flee to Turkey via Egypt, along with his parents and sister.
Samir has been highly critical of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even going as far as to mock him in animated segments:
My voice is very similar to Assad. It's a gift that I can mock Assad's voice. I discovered this gift before the revolution started and I knew deep inside that I would take advantage of it at some point in the future.
In one of the videos I announced Assad was stepping down. This forced Syria's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to issue a public statement denying Assad's departure.
Samir's work means he cannot return to the land of his birth, and he misses the siblings he lost in the conflict:
It's very lonely now. It was for our freedom. It's not a big price to pay. We used to live in Syria without any dignity or freedom. We don't have anything now. It's so disappointing to see what is happening with this refugee crisis. It's life or death. We have to make our own futures.
Do you think this video is effective in communicating its message? How do you feel about Samir using Mario in such a fashion? Let us know your thoughts below, and please be mindful of the fact that this is a very sensitive topic.