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Who is Steve Jobs’ Syrian immigrant father, Abdul Fattah Jandali?

Simon Jary | Dec. 14, 2015
Syrian migrant crisis puts spotlight on Steve Jobs’ roots

Steve Jobs is well known as an arch innovator from California's Silicon Valley - founding Apple Computer, NeXt and Pixar, and helping to bring to the world the personal computer, Mac, iPhone and iPad, as well as movies such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo.

Less well known is the fact that while Steve Jobs was born in California he was actually adopted, and his biological father was a political migrant from the Syrian city of Homs, now devastated by the civil war in Syria.

On Twitter this fact has now gone viral, starting via a tweet by David Galbraith, and further exposed by the BBC World Service's Outside Source programme. It remains a powerful statement, especially following the ISIS atrocities in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and now mainland Europe.

While some people are horrified at the numbers fleeing Syria, and worry about the consequences of other countries taking on millions of refugees, the tweets point out that previous Syrian migrants have boosted the West's culture, business and technology - most notably the biological father of Steve Jobs - Abdul Fattah Jandali, who is still alive (aged 84) and living in Nevada.

Steve Jobs Syria Migrant father

Jandali fled the Middle East because of protests and demonstrations that eventually toppled the president of Lebanon.

He is a non-practicing Muslim and hasn't been on the Haj (the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca), but he has stated that he believes in Islam in doctrine and culture.

"I have never experienced any problem or discrimination in the United States because of my religion or race. Other than my accent, which might sometimes suggest that I'm from another country, I have completely integrated in society here," he is quoted as saying in a Lebanese news website.

Jandali was born in 1931 in Homs, Syria to a wealthy landowner. His father was a self-made millionaire who owned "several entire villages", according to his son. He father held complete authority over his children.

His mother was a traditional Muslim woman who "took care of the house and me and my four sisters, but she was conservative, obedient, and a housewife".

He had wanted to study law at Damascus University to become a lawyer, but his authoritarian father disagreed, saying that there were "too many lawyers in Syria".

At 18 Jandali left Syria for Lebanon to continue his studies at the American University of Beirut. He described Beirut as the city "where I spent the best days of my life".

At the university he was an activist for Arab nationalism, and demonstrated for the independence of Algeria and even spent three days in prison.

 

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