Edward Norton is using his charitable website Crowdrise to raise funds for a Syrian refugee profiled by Humans of New York.
Edward Norton is using his charitable website Crowdrise to raise funds for a Syrian refugee profiled by Humans of New York. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Edward Norton has called attention to the Syrian refugee crisis after the story of one man moved him to tears.

The three-time Oscar-nominated actor's website Crowdrise joined forces with the Humans of New York website to fund-raise for an embattled elderly man dubbed "the Scientist," who still wants to "make a lasting contribution to humanity."


"This man has suffered profound loss that would crush the spirit of many people and yet he still passionately wants a chance to contribute positively to the world," the "Birdman" star wrote on the fundraising site. "If we don't welcome people like this into our communities and empower his dream of making an impact with his life, then we're not the country we tell ourselves we are."

Norton, who grew up in Columbia, called on people to "reject the 'anti-human' voices that tell us to fear refugees and show this man and his family what Americans are really made of."

"Let's show that a country built by the energy and dreams of immigrants still believes in brave people who come here with hope for a better life," the "Fight Club" star said, imploring people to "kick in the price of two frappucinos" to help out the Scientist.

As of Monday, the campaign had raised more than $400,000.

Humans of New York has been spotlighting Syrian refugees and the Ph.D.-holding Scientist is among the latest batch of subjects. He fled to Turkey after the compound he built for his family in Syria was bombed by a government antipersonnel missile and killed 16 people, including his wife, daughter and five other members of his family.

"We survived but we're dead psychologically. Everything ended for us that day. That was our destiny. That was our share in life," the Scientist told the website.

He and the rest of his family fled to Turkey, where he can't work without a residence permit and he's forced to give away his designs to Turkish citizens. He's also suffering from stomach cancer that's spreading as he awaits his family's transfer to Troy, Mich.

"I still think I have a chance to make a difference in the world. I have several inventions that I'm hoping to patent once I get to America," he said. "I just want a place to do my research. I learned today that I'm going to Troy, Michigan. I know nothing about it. I just hope that it's safe and that it's a place where they respect science. I just want to get back to work. I want to be a person again. I don't want the world to think I'm over. I'm still here."

Incidentally, the Scientist's story also got the attention of President Obama, who welcomed him to the United States via Facebook.

"As a husband and a father, I cannot even begin to imagine the loss you've endured," read Obama's comment on the Humans of New York post. "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. Yes, you can still make a difference in the world, and we're proud that you'll pursue your dreams here. Welcome to your new home. You're part of what makes America great."

The president's words come at a time when more than half of state governors oppose the admission of Syrian refugees to the United States and as Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump made global headlines earlier this month when he called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S." following the San Bernardino rampage.

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.