The life of Mehran Karimi Nasseri has come to an end in the place where it first gained international notoriety. Next week is Thanksgiving. It is annually one of the most traveled days/weeks/holidays. For those that do that traveling via “the friendly skies,” the picture above has to give you the shakes. “Gee, I love waiting in endless lines and dealing with endless hassles in the airport terminal.” You know who says that? No one. Ever. It is for this reason that many consider Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal” a horror film. <g>
The 2004 movie starred Tom Hanks and was a fictionalized story based on the life of Mehran Karimi Nasseri. This Iranian man lived in the Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for 18 years. His unique living situation began in 1988 when he was caught in one of the strangest immigration limbos of all time. See, Nasseri claimed status as a refugee after maintaining he was expelled from Iran in 1977 for protesting against the Shah. Here’s where his story gets tricky and infamous. Nasseri was able to travel between Britain and France for years, however one day he was unable to produce a passport to British officials while on a Brussels ferry in 1988. They force him to return to France but since he could not prove his identity or refugee status, he was detained at the airport. The French legal system, 4 YEARS LATER, ruled Nasseri had entered the country legally so he could not be expelled from the airport but also could not give him permission to enter France. What a mess right? Anyway, Nasseri wrote an autobiography about his experience that was published in 2004 (did he write it at the airport? I assume so). Later that year, “The Terminal” came out. It’s important to note the film is not Nasseri’s story but inspired by his experiences. Yes, Nasseri eventually left the airport in 2006, but had recently returned to it. And recently, he passed away within the walls that to us is a nightmare, but to him was home. RIP to an odd man who inspired one of society’s most bizarre stories.