US actor Edward Norton raises $600,000 for Syrian refugee

Norton (left) read about the Syrian refugee (right) on a popular blog.
Norton (left) read about the Syrian refugee (right) on a popular blog.PHOTOS: AFP. FACEBOOK
The scientist with his son and daughter.
The scientist with his son and daughter.PHOTO: FACEBOOK

NEW YORK (AFP) - US actor Edward Norton has raised more than US$425,000 (S$600,000) as of Tuesday for a Syrian refugee whom he read about on a popular blog and whose tragic story moved him "to tears."

The Syrian, a scientist who lost seven members of his family in a bombing two years ago - including his wife and a daughter - was featured on the website "Humans of New York" earlier this month.

The blog, created in 2010 by US photographer Brandon Stanton, began by featuring everyday New Yorkers and sharing small snippets of their life stories, but has now expanded to include individuals from other countries.

The Syrian, whom the website simply refers to as "the scientist," is living in Istanbul but will soon move to Troy, Michigan.

"We survived but we're dead psychologically. Everything ended for us that day," he told the blog, which captured him in a series of photos, one of which shows him sitting on a couch between a son and daughter.

The refugee also said that he is suffering from stomach cancer that has not been properly treated due to lack of means.

"I just want to get back to work. I want to be a person again," said the grey-haired scientist, whose story has drawn the attention of US President Barack Obama.

"As a husband and a father, I cannot even begin to imagine the loss you've endured," Obama posted on the Humans of New York Facebook page.

"You and your family are an inspiration. I know that the great people of Michigan will embrace you with the compassion and support you deserve," Obama said.

Norton, who has starred in films including The Incredible Hulk, Fight Club and Oscar-winning dark comedy Birdman, had raised US$426,987 as of mid-Tuesday.

"Let's reject the 'anti-human' voices that tell us to fear refugees and show this man and his family what Americans are really made of," Norton said.

"I saw this story on one of my favorite sites, Humans of New York, and it moved me to tears," he said.

Obama has pledged to take in 10,000 Syrians over the course of the next year, but many American states - apparently fearing Islamist extremists will be hiding among the flow of refugees - have said they do not want them.