Page 1


100% FREMMED? - En introduktion 100% FREMMED? er et møde med 100 meget forskellige borgere. De har dog én ting til fælles. De er alle tidligere flygtninge, og de har alle opnået asyl i Danmark. De seneste år har flygtningedebatten domineret mediebilledet. Først var der fokus på dem, som ankom, mens blikket nu især er rettet mod dem, som er her. Det spørgsmål, der går igen, er, hvor danske eller hvor “fremmede” de i grunden er?

100% FREMMED? har bedt 100 tidligere flygtninge om at give deres eget svar. Er du 0%, 50%, 100% fremmed? Et simplificerende og polemisk spørgsmål, der førte til 100 vidt forskellige samtaler. De er nu samlet til 100 fortællinger og iscenesatte portrætter, hvor de tidligere flygtninge har ordet. Hvem er de, og hvad har de på hjerte? Den entydige fortælling om ”flygtningene” erstattes af 100 personlige og højst forskellige historier om at være menneske i Danmark i dag – fremmed eller ej. Fortællinger om tilhørsforhold, længsler og drømme, minder om mennesker og steder, holdninger til samfund, køn, kultur og religion… De 100 personer er udvalgt på baggrund af data fra Danmarks Statistik som et repræsentativt udsnit af de ca. 161.000 mennesker, der er kommet til Danmark som flygtninge eller familiesammenførte siden 1956 fra primært 29 lande. De er alle kommet hertil, efter at FN vedtog Flygtningekonventionen i 1951.

Deltagerne er valgt ud fra oprindelsesland, køn og årstal for ankomst samt med henblik på at repræsentere forskelligheden inden for mere bløde kriterier såsom politisk, religiøs, etnisk og professionel baggrund. 14% er fra Irak, 11% fra Afghanistan og Syrien, 7% fra Iran og Somalia, men også tidligere flygtninge fra f.eks. Polen, Rusland, Kina, Burundi og Chile er repræsenteret. Den ældste deltager er 79 år og kom til Danmark blandt de første flygtninge fra Ungarn efter Sovjets invasion i 1956. Den senest ankomne deltager er flygtet fra Den Syriske Borgerkrig og kom hertil i 2016. 100% FREMMED? tegner således med brede strøg et billede af 60 års lokale og globale kriser.

Deltagerne har selv medvirket til at finde den rette form og det rette indhold til deres selvrepræsentation, både i foto og tekst.

Nogle emner og oplevelser har vist sig for traumatiske eller endda farlige at fremhæve, så de berøres kun overfladisk. Tre deltagere foretrækker at være anonyme.

Alle portrætter er skabt i Tivoli, et nationalt symbol på morskab, frihed og eskapisme. Med Tivolis myriade af farver, figurer, symboler og materialer som baggrund undslipper portrætterne den stereotype socialrealisme, der risikerer at fastholde fortællingen om flygtningene som ”ofre” for deres skæbne. Parken fungerer som et gammeldags fotostudie, hvor deltagerne klæder sig pænt på, vælger deres baggrund og medbringer de personer og genstande, der betyder mest for dem. Iscenesættelserne søger at understøtte de personlige historier med Tivoli som kulisse og mentalt landskab mellem fiktion og virkelighed. Fortællingerne bliver levende i samarbejde med 10 teaterinstruktører, der som mentorer har hjulpet deltagerne med at omforme deres fortællinger til korte monologer.

100% FREMMED? søger at skabe et levende arkiv, en midlertidig borgerplatform i konstant udvikling, der tilfører nye og hidtil manglende narrativer til fortællingen om København og om Danmark. Dette er den første større kunstnerisk-dokumentariske indsamling af denne befolkningsgruppes personlige beretninger. De 100 fortællinger overleveres til Københavns Stadsarkiv og baner således vej for en ny og mere repræsentativ historieskrivning.

100% FREMMED? er en del af Københavns Internationale Teaters projekt Metropolis, der skaber og præsenterer kunst i, med og for København ved at bearbejde byens usynlige fortællinger. 100% FREMMED? produceres af Københavns Internationale Teater i et samarbejde med kurator/fotograf Maja Eriksen. Det er det andet projekt baseret på et koncept af performancekollektivet Rimini Protokoll. 100% København var det første projekt, hvor en statistisk og empirisk rationel repræsentation af en befolkningsgruppe udfordres med 100 personfortællinger, hvor gennemsnitsberegninger og generaliseringer kommer til kort.

Credits Produceret af Københavns Internationale Teater/Metropolis v. Trevor Davies og Katrien Verwilt Udstillingskoncept og fotos: Maja Nydal Eriksen Interviews, tekster, research, lyd: Mette Katrine Balle Jensen og Sisse Nat-George Grafisk tilrettelæggelse: Elisavet Papageorgiou Landeprofiler: Arian Odabaei Kalligrafi: Salim Assi Tryk: Damgaard-Jensen

Levende fortællinger: Instruktion: Babak Vakili, Emmet Feigenberg, Gritt Uldall-Jessen, Inger Eilersen, Lisa Carlehead, Nicolei Faber, Rhea Leman, Thomas Corneliussen, Vigga Bro & Wladimir Herman Dramaturgi: Jesper Bergmann Lydcollage: Turkman Souljah

Støttet af Statens Kunstfonds Projektstøtteudvalg for Scenekunst, Københavns Kommune, Sportgoodsfonden, Interkulturelt Center og Knud Højgaards Fond Tak til Københavns Rådhus, Tivoli, Dansk Flygtningehjælp, De Danske Sprogcentre, Rådet for Etniske Minoriteter, Københavns Universitet og VerdensKulturCentret


100% FOREIGN? - An introduction 100% FOREIGN? is a meeting with 100 extremely diverse citizens. They have, however, one thing in common. They are all former refugees who have all been given asylum in Denmark. Over the last couple of years, the refugee debate has been dominating the media. Firstly centred on those coming, but lately more focused on those who are already living here. The question that emerges is about definitions of Danish-ness and foreign-ness.

100% FOREIGN? has invited 100 citizens, all former refugees, to respond to this question. Do you feel 0%, 50%, 100% foreign? A simplified and polemic question, which has led to 100 extremely different conversations. These have been edited into 100 stories and staged portraits where the former refugees are centre stage. Who are they, and what is on their minds? The stereotype story of refugees is replaced by 100 personal and diverse life stories about being a citizen in Denmark today – foreign or not. Stories of belonging, longing and dreams, memories of people and places, views on society, gender, culture and religion. The 100 participants have been selected on the basis of data from Statistics Denmark to be representative of the 161,000 people who have been granted asylum or family reunion in Denmark since 1956, primarily from 29 countries – all of them arriving after the UN adopted the Refugee Convention in 1951.

Participants are selected on criteria of country of origin, year of arrival, and gender, but also on the basis of softer criteria such as political standpoint, religious belief, ethnicity, and professional background in order to ensure diversity. 14% are from Iraq, 11% from Afghanistan and Syria, 7% from Iran and Somalia, but also former refugees from countries such as Poland, Russia, China, Burundi, and Chile are represented. The oldest participant is 79 years old and came to Denmark as one of the first refugees from Hungary after the Soviet invasion in 1956. The most recent participant came in 2016 as a result of the Syrian Civil War. In this way, 100% Foreign? reflects with broad brush strokes 60 years of local and global crises.

The participants have been involved in the process of defining the formats and the precise content of their selfrepresentation both with regards to the photographs and the texts. Produced by Copenhagen International Theatre/Metropolis by Trevor Davies & Katrien Verwilt Exhibition concept and photos: Maja Nydal Eriksen Interviews, text, research, sound: Mette Katrine Balle Jensen & Sisse Nat-George Graphic design: Elisavet Papageorgiou Country profiles: Arian Odabaei Calligraphy: Salim Assi Print: Damgaard-Jensen

Some topics and experiences have been too traumatic or even dangerous to be explicit, and these are just touched on. Three of the participants wish to remain anonymous.

All the portraits have been staged in Tivoli Gardens, a national symbol of fun, freedom and escapism. With Tivoli’s myriad of colours, symbols and materials as a background, the portraits are freed from the stereotyped social realism, which often keeps the narrative of refugees as victims of their own situation. The amusement park acts as an old-fashioned photo studio where the participants dress up, select their own background, and bring close friends, family members, or objects, which are meaningful. The staging of the photographs attempts to highlight the personal stories with Tivoli as a scenographic and mental landscape, between fiction and reality. The narratives are brought alive in collaboration with ten theatre directors, who act as mentors supporting the participants to translate their stories into short monologues.

100% FOREIGN? attempts to build a living archive, a temporary citizens platform in constant development, which adds a new and missing narrative to the ongoing story of Copenhagen and Denmark. This is the first large scale art-documentary collection of material from this disparate community of citizens’ personal lives. The 100 stories will be transferred to Copenhagen City Archives to start up a new and more representative contemporary archive.

100% FOREIGN? is part of Copenhagen International Theatre’s project Metropolis, which presents art and performance in, with and for the city of Copenhagen through the discovery of its invisible narratives. 100% FOREIGN? is produced by Copenhagen International Theatre in collaboration with curator/photographer Maja Eriksen. It is the second project based on the concept of Rimini Protokoll. 100% Copenhagen was the first, where a statistical and empirically rational representation of a community of citizens is challenged by 100 individual stories, where averages and generalisations are confronted.

Credits Monologues: Direction: Babak Vakili, Emmet Feigenberg, Gritt Uldall-Jessen, Inger Eilersen, Lisa Carlehead, Nicolei Faber, Rhea Leman, Thomas Corneliussen, Vigga Bro & Wladimir Herman Dramaturge: Jesper Bergmann Sound collage: Turkman Souljah

Supported by the Danish Arts Foundation Committee for the Performing Arts, City of Copenhagen, Sportgoodsfonden, Interkulturelt Center & Knud Højgaards Fond Thanks to Copenhagen Town Hall, Tivoli A/S, Danish Refugee Council, Danish Language Centres, Association of Ethnic Minorities, University of Copenhagen & VerdensKulturCentret


MENNESKER PÅ FLUGT

af forfatter og journalist Knud Vilby Et menneske, der tvinges til flugt, er flygtning. Så enkel er virkeligheden. Og så enkelt har sproget været i århundreder. ”Flygtninge” er mennesker på flugt. Op gennem historien har der altid været situationer, hvor mennesker var nødt til at forlade deres hjem og flygte: på grund af tørke og misvækst, på grund af krige og naturkatastrofer, på grund af forfølgelse og trusler om udryddelse.

Flygtningekonventionen af 1951 taler alene om, at stater kan give asyl, altså flygtningestatus, til en asylansøger ”som følge af velbegrundet frygt for forfølgelse på grund af sin race, religion, nationalitet, sit tilhørsforhold til en særlig social gruppe eller sine politiske anskuelser”. Konventionen understreger truslen mod den enkelte asylmodtager og den individuelle grund til flugt.

Men storpolitik og international jura anfægter både virkeligheden og sproget. Internationale flygtningekonventioner har i den bedste hensigt skabt nye politiske virkeligheder, hvor den flygtende langt fra altid anerkendes som flygtning. Hjælp til flygtninge forudsætter en definition af, hvad det vil sige at være flygtning i en ny politisk virkelighed. Et menneske på flugt har ret til at søge asyl i et andet land, men afvises, hvis ikke flugten lever op til den politiske definition. Et menneske på flugt er ikke automatisk flygtning.

I konventionens forstand er et menneske, der flygter fra oversvømmelsernes vandmasser eller en flerårig tørke som følge af klimaændringer, ikke en flygtning. Flugt fra krig gør heller ikke automatisk et menneske til flygtning, hvis der ikke er tale om særlig forfølgelse eller den flygtende tilhører en gruppe, der udsættes for systematisk forfølgelse.

FLYGTNINGENES ÅRHUNDREDE

Den tyske forfatter Henrich Böll skrev i 1980, at det 20. århundrede vil blive husket som ”Flygtningenes århundrede”. Baggrunden var de enorme flygtningestrømme, som ikke mindst Anden Verdenskrig skabte, men også mange andre flygtningegrupper, og nok også det faktum, at FN i 1948 havde vedtaget ”Verdenserklæringen om menneskerettighederne”, som fastslog, at ”enhver har ret til i andre lande at søge og få tilstået asyl mod forfølgelse”. I 1951 kom FN’s Flygtningekonvention, der gav flygtninge en status og sagde noget om, hvordan de skulle behandles og defineres. En ny æra var indledt. Alligevel er det langt fra sikkert, at det 20. århundrede vil blive husket som flygtningenes århundrede. Måske bliver det snarere det 21. århundrede.

Den internationale organisation for migration (IOM) vurderer, at der i år 2050 verden over vil være omkring 200 millioner fordrevne på grund af miljø- og klimaændringer. IOM skriver ’fordrevne’, ikke ’tvungne til flugt’, måske fordi disse millioner af mennesker nok vil være tvungne til at flygte, men ikke skal regne med at blive ’anerkendt’ som flygtninge. HVEM ER FLYGTNING? I dag er der ifølge de seneste tal fra FN mere end 65 millioner fordrevne verden over. Omkring 22 millioner har status som flygtninge. Miljøflygtninge, klimaflygtninge, krigsflygtninge og flygtninge for naturkatastrofer. Men også millioner, der flygter fra fattigdom og arbejdsløshed. De tvinges, fordrives eller træffer selv beslutninger om flugt. Det internationale system sætter forskellige etiketter på dem: internt fordrevne, flygtninge, migranter. Men desperationen kan være den samme.

I debatten skelner man derfor meget mellem migranter og flygtninge. Millioner af mennesker søger væk fra fattigdom i håb om en bedre fremtid. Men flugt fra fattigdom er ikke flugt i konventionsbureaukratiets forstand. PARADOKSERNE Ikke alle konventioner ser så firkantet på flygtningebegrebet som den grundlæggende konvention fra 1951. Både i den afrikanske flygtningekonvention fra 1969 og den latinamerikanske fra 1984 defineres flygtningebegrebet bredere, og man anerkender flygtninge fra krig og interne uroligheder som flygtninge. Der har været forsøg på at udvide flygtningebegrebet for at give større sikkerhed til grupper af flygtninge og tvangsfordrevne, men i disse år går politikken, specielt i Europa og USA, i den modsatte retning for at gøre det vanskeligere for flygtninge at opnå asyl.

Det er et særligt paradoks, at de store globale klimaændringer især er udløst af produktion og overforbrug i den rige verden. Men når klimaændringer skaber klimaflygtninge, som søger mod den rige verden, gør de rige lande det endnu vanskeligere at blive anerkendt som flygtning. Udviklingen vil udfordre både konventionerne, sproget og den konkrete politik. Det er uundgåeligt, at der må skelnes mellem migranter og flygtninge, men der må også gøres langt mere for at begrænse årsagerne til flugt og migration. Nu bygges der mure, men bygningen af mure kan kun være symptombehandling.

I dette perspektiv er 100% FREMMED? et forsøg på at tage afsæt i det enkelte menneskes virkelighed. Udstillingen peger ikke på en overordnet systemløsning, men på mange års ufortalte historier og på det enkelte individs skrøbelighed og styrke.


PEOPLE SEEKING REFUGE

by writer and journalist Knud Vilby

A person forced to flee is a refugee – to seek refuge. So simple is reality. And for hundreds of years, this terminology has been quite clear. Throughout history, there have always been situations where people have been forced to leave their homes and flee due to drought and crop failure, due to war and natural disasters, due to persecution and the threat of extinction. However, macro politics and international law challenge both reality and our common language. International conventions have, with the best intentions, created a new political reality, where the person fleeing and seeking refuge is not always recognised as a refugee. Help to refugees is dependent on the way we choose to define the term refugee in the given political context. Any person fleeing has the right to seek asylum, but is rejected if his/her flight does not live up to the political definition. A person seeking refuge is not automatically a refugee.

THE CENTURY OF THE REFUGEES

The German author Henrich Böll wrote in 1980 that the 20th century will be remembered as ”the century of the refugees”. The background for this was the enormous flow of refugees from World War II as well as many other situations and which led to the UN adopting “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in 1948, which clearly states that “any person has the right to apply for asylum in any country due to persecution” In 1951, the UN adopted the Refugee Convention, which gave refugees both civil status and civil rights. A new era was started. Despite this, it is far from certain that the 20th century will be remembered as the century of refugees. Perhaps it is more evident that this might be the fate of the 21st century.

The international organisation for migration (IOM) calculates that in 2050 we can expect that some 200 million people will be displaced world wide on account of environmental and climate change. IOM states “displaced” as opposed to “forced to flee”, perhaps because these millions of people will be forced to flee, but they should not expect to be accepted as refugees. WHO ARE REFUGEES? Today, based on UN data, more than 65 million people are currently displaced in the world. Around 22 million have the status of refugees. Environment refugees, climate refugees, war refugees, refugees due to natural disasters. But also millions fleeing form poverty or lack of employment. They are forced, displaced or take their own decisions to flee and seek refuge. The international system puts various labels on them: internally displaced, refugees, migrants. But the desperation can be the same.

The Refugee Convention of 1951 only mentions that states can give asylum, thereby refugee status, to an applicant “due to a convincing case of fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political conviction”. The convention highlights the individual threat and reason to flee for the asylum seeker. In the context of the convention, a person fleeing from flooding or from a yearlong drought as the result of global climate change is not a refugee. Fleeing from war does not automatically give a person refugee status, unless there is a clear case of persecution, or if the person belongs to a group of people, who are subject to systematic persecution.

In the current debate, one differentiates between migrants and refugees. Millions of people try to escape poverty in the hope of a better future. However, poverty is not seen as legitimate forced flight seen from the convention’s perspective. PARADOXES Not all conventions are as rigid as the definition of refugees in the 1951 Convention. Both the African Refugee Convention of 1969 and the Latin American Convention of 1984 define the refugee term somewhat broader and include people fleeing from war and civil war as refugees. There have been some attempts to widen the definition of refugee and to offer more security to groups of forcibly displaced people, but the political situation in recent years, particularly in Europe and the US, is moving in another direction, to tighten the definition and make it more difficult to get asylum.

There is something of a paradox in that the major global climate changes are, to a large extent, caused by overproduction and overconsumption of the so-called developed world. But when climate change results in climate refugees fleeing towards the developed world, the result is a tightening of the procedures and definitions. The future will challenge the coventions, the language and the politics. It is unavoidable that there will be a differentiation between migrants and refugees, but there also needs to be done far more to limit the causes of both migration and the need for refuge. At present, walls are being constructed, but the bulding of walls only treats the symptoms.

From this perspective, 100% Foreign? is an attempt to start with the individual’s every day reality. The exhibition does not point at an overall systemic solution, but points at many years untold narratives and at the fragility and the strengths of each person.


Tamás Vetö Generelt føler jeg mig ikke fremmed i Danmark, og jeg tænker ikke på fremmedhed som noget, der nødvendigvis handler om, hvor man er født. I Ungarn opdagede jeg som 9-årig, at min familie var jødisk, dengang krigen kom. Pludselig var jeg fremmed på grund af en baggrund, jeg ikke før havde kendt til. Langt senere i livet fandt jeg ud af, at jeg var mere til mænd end kvinder, og jeg frygtede, at det ville gøre mig til en fremmed over for mine børn, men de har altid mødt mig med kærlighed og forståelse.

Generally speaking I don’t feel foreign in Denmark, and I don’t think of foreignness as something which is necessarily about where you were born. When I was nine and living in Hungary, I discovered that my family was Jewish when the war started. Suddenly I was foreign because of a background I had never been aware off. Much later in life I found out that I was more into men than women, and I feared that this would alienate my children. However, they have always met me with love and understanding.

Jeg er vokset op med en stor kærlighed til teater og musik. Min mor var en dygtig amatørpianist, og hun fik mig i gang med at spille.

I grew up with an overwhelming love of theatre and music. My mother was an accomplished amateur pianist, and she made me start playing the piano.

På et tidspunkt sagde jeg til hende, at jeg ville være musiker, så vi besøgte en stor ungarsk komponist. Jeg spillede for ham, men han syntes ikke, at jeg havde, hvad der skulle til for at blive musiker. Måske var det dét, der gjorde, at jeg blev musiker. Prøverne har altid været det sværeste for mig. Jeg foretrækker, når det går løs, og jeg er berømt for at redde situationen. En bliver syg i sidste øjeblik, og jeg træder til. Jeg kan godt lide, når det foregår spontant og uden prøve, for så kan jeg slå, hvor fanden jeg vil. Noget, jeg har det svært med i Danmark, er, at alt skal være så hyggeligt, også i det professionelle musikmiljø. Når koncentrationen svigter under en prøve, forventes det, at man kommer med en sjov historie, og når man går rundt i sine egne tanker uden at smile, kan man være næsten sikker på at blive mødt med kommentaren: ”Er du sur?”. Hygge er fint, men jeg synes ikke, at alting behøver at være hyggeligt.

81 år / mand / enlig / børn / pensioneret dirigent / Taastrup / fra Ungarn / kom til Danmark i 1957 / opholdstilladelse samme år

At one point I told her that I wanted to become a musician, so we visited a big Hungarian composer. I played for him, but he didn’t think I had what it takes to become a musician. Maybe that is why I became a musician. The rehearsals have always been the worst for me. I prefer it when the music is unleashed, and I am notorious for saving situations. Someone falls sick in the last minute, and I step in. I like the spontaneity and lack of rehearsals, because then I can beat wherever I like. Something here in Denmark which I find difficult is that everything must be so cozy, also in the professional music scene. When people lose their concentration during a rehearsal, you are expected to tell a funny story, and when you walk around, absorbed in your own thoughts and without smiling, you can be sure of being met with the words: “are you mad?”. Coziness is fine, but I don’t think everything has to be cozy.

81 years / male / single / children / retired conductor / Taastrup / from Hungary / came to Denmark in 1957 / residence permit same year


Katia Forbert Petersen Jeg føler mig 50% fremmed. Jeg ved, at jeg er lidt anderledes, men det er ikke nødvendigvis fordi, jeg kommer fra et andet land. Det kan lige så godt handle om mine holdninger eller om, at jeg ikke er så høj. Da jeg mistede mine forældre, fik jeg den tanke, at man kan bo i et land et helt liv, men først når man begraver et familiemedlem i landet, slår man for alvor rødder. Min mand og jeg taler af og til om, at vi tilhører den lykkeligste generation. Vi blev født efter 2. verdenskrig i en tid præget af optimisme. Ligestilling, ligeløn og uddannelse var på dagsordenen, og børn kunne se frem til en mere privilegeret tilværelse end deres forældre. Den udvikling ser ikke ud til at fortsætte. Boligmarkedet i København er præget af spekulation. Uligheden vokser, og København risikerer at ende som en ghetto for rige mennesker. Også på ligestillingsområdet er der stadig meget at kæmpe for.

F.eks. bliver man som borger nødt til at være aktiv, hvis man vil sikre reel ligestilling på retsområdet. I april sidste år blev tre unge mænd frikendt for voldtægt af en 16-årig pige ved retten i Roskilde, og først da sagen gik om i Østre Landsret, blev de dømt efter store demonstrationer og folkeligt pres. Udfaldet af retssagen i Roskilde er for mig at se et eksempel på dårlig domstolspraksis, hvor kulturelt betingede forestillinger om køn og seksualitet kommer til at præge den måde, loven udmøntes på. Loven er lige for alle, men ikke alle er lige for loven.

67 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / filminstruktør og -fotograf / København Ø / fra Polen / kom til DK i 1969 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I feel 50% foreign. I know that I am slightly different, but this is not necessarily because I am from another country. It might just as well be due to my opinions or due to my height. When I lost my parents I had a thought; you can live all your life in a country, but it is not until you bury a relative that you really put down roots. My husband and I sometimes talk about our being part of the happiest generation. We were both born after World War II during a time characterised by optimism. Gender equality, equal pay and free education were on the agenda. The standard of living gradually increased and children could look forward to a more privileged life than that of their parents. Unfortunately this development does not look like it can continue. The Copenhagen property market is characterised by speculation, inequality is growing, and Copenhagen risks ending as a ghetto for affluent citizens. As far as gender equality is concerned, there is still a lot to fight for too.

For example, as a citizen you have to be active if you want to ensure real equality in the judicial sector. Last April, the Roskilde Court acquitted three young men of the rape of a 16-yearold, and only after a media storm and public demonstrations, the regional court overruled this verdict. This was a prime example of poor juridical practice, where cultural issues on gender and sexuality shape the way the law is interpreted. The law is equal for everyone, but not everyone is equal before the law.

67 years / female / in a relationship / children / film director and photographer / Copenhagen Ø / from Poland / came to Denmark in 1969 / residence permit same year


Wladimir Herman Min sproglige og kulturelle baggrund gør mig en smule anderledes end de fleste danskere, men grundlæggende har det at føle sig fremmed at gøre med forfølgelse eller diskrimination, og jeg er ikke udsat for nogen af delene.

My linguistic and cultural background makes me slightly different than most Danes. But basically the feeling of being a foreigner has something to do with persecution and discrimination, and I am not exposed to any of that.

Interessant kunst bygger på politiske eller psykologiske kampe. I det kommunistiske Polen, hvor jeg voksede op, var kunsten en kæmpende kunst, ofte i opposition til systemet, mens den i Danmark i start 70’erne primært var underholdende. Her var få problemer og dermed heller ingen virkelig oplagte kamppladser for kunsten at indtage. Hvis du ikke har noget at kæmpe for, risikerer du at blive doven. Den kamp, som har afholdt mig fra at blive doven, er en psykologisk kamp, der kredser om de identitetsspørgsmål, som flugten til Danmark satte i gang. Er jeg polak, polsk jøde, dansk jøde, dansker? Også nutidens flygtningesituation er forbundet med dilemmaer, som kunsten kan afsøge.

Interesting art builds on political or psychological confrontation. In communist Poland, where I grew up, art was a protesting art, often in opposition to the system, all whilst in Denmark in the early ‘70s it was primarily entertaining. There were no major problems, and art had no obvious battlefields it could engage on. If you have nothing to fight for, you risk becoming lazy. The battle that has kept me from becoming lazy is a psychological battle revolving around identity issues, sparked off by my flight to Denmark. Am I a Pole, a Polish Jew, a Danish Jew, a Dane? Also today’s refugee situation is associated with dilemmas which art can explore.

Et væsentligt spørgsmål er f.eks., om vi i Danmark skal hjælpe de virkelig trængte, eller om vi skal prioritere at passe på det velfærdssamfund, som vi har opbygget gennem så mange år? Jeg mener, at vi skal hjælpe, men have øje for proportionerne. Danmark er et mindre land med kultur og sprog, som vi skal værne om. Jeg arrangerede på et tidspunkt en række forestillinger og debatter, der kredsede om disse problemstillinger. Det var lige, så det slog gnister. Den positive og venlige konfrontation er afgørende i kunsten og i samfundet. Den bidrager til gensidig forståelse og renser luften.

79 år / mand / i et forhold / historiker og instruktør / Østerbro / fra Polen / kom til Danmark i 1970 / opholdstilladelse samme år

A crucial question is for example if we in Denmark should help the really needy, or if we should prioritise maintaining the welfare society we have built over so many years? I believe that we should help, but still keep an eye on the proportions. Denmark is a small country as far as culture and language is concerned, so we should take care of it. I once organised a number of performances and debates focusing on these issues. My goodness, it certainly struck a chord. The positive and friendly confrontation is essential in art and in society. It contributes to mutual understanding and clears the air.

79 years / male / in a relationship / historian and director / Østerbro / from Poland / came to Denmark in 1970 / residence permit same year


Musse Sheikh Muhumad-Casse Ahmed Abdillahi Seed Dhible Al Ayuubi Al Somali Jeg er ikke fremmed. Jeg føler mig hjemme, fordi jeg har skabt mig et liv her. Og så har jeg sat mig ind i den danske kultur. Jeg har læst Biblen, jeg ved, at Fyn er fin, og jeg siger mojn, når jeg er i Sønderjylland. Jeg kender H.C. Andersens og Søren Kierkegaards værker. Men det er helt håbløst, når DF kræver, at indvandrere skal gå i kirke for at være danske, især når størstedelen af danskerne ikke gør det. Da jeg kom til Danmark, kendte jeg ikke min fødselsdato. Da jeg spurgte min mor, hvor gammel jeg var, sagde hun, hvor gammel føler du dig? I Somalia har vi ikke et CPR-nummer. Vores navn fortæller, hvem vi er, og hvor vi kommer fra. Mit navn reddede faktisk mit liv. Jeg stod bogstaveligt talt med en pose over hovedet og en pistol i nakken, da der var en, som kunne genkende min morfars navn, og som derfor kunne sige god for mig. Det var min redning.

Konflikten i Somalia er stadig ikke løst. Alligevel har Danmark valgt at deportere 2000 somaliere. 20 børn er allerede sendt “hjem”, men det taler man ikke om. Jeg ved, at det ikke var sket, hvis vi havde overbevist den danske befolkning om, at vi har gjort noget for Danmark. Jeg er bioanalytiker og rigtig glad for mit liv i Danmark, men det irriterer mig, at politikerne lovgiver om ting, de ikke ved noget om. De sidder meget isoleret inde på Christiansborg og ved ikke, hvad der foregår ude i samfundet. Jeg synes, at man skulle sende politikerne i praktik, inden de måtte tage en beslutning om f.eks. hospitalsvæsenet.

64 år / mand / enlig / børn / bioanalytiker / Ballerup / fra Somaliland / kom til Danmark i 1973 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I am not foreign. I feel at home, because I have made myself a life here. And I have acquainted myself with the Danish culture. I have read the Bible, I know that Fyn is “fine”, and that when you are in Southern Jutland you say “mojn”. I know the works of Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. But that is completely and utterly pointless when the Danish People’s Party demand that immigrants must go to church to be Danish, especially when the majority of Danes don’t do it. When I arrived in Denmark I did not know my date of birth. When I asked my mother how old I was, she replied: How old do you feel? In Somalia we don’t have national identity numbers. Our names tell us who we are and where we come from. Actually my name once saved my life. I stood, literally, with a bag over my head and a gun to my neck, when someone recognised my grandfather’s name, and he could therefore vouch for me. That saved my life.

The conflict in Somalia is still to be resolved, yet Denmark has chosen to deport 2,000 Somalis. 20 children have already been sent “home”, but everybody stays stum about it. I know that this would not have happened if we had convinced the Danish population that we have done something for Denmark. I am a biomedical scientist and really pleased with my life in Denmark, but it annoys me that the politicians legislate about things they know nothing about. They seem very isolated at Christiansborg, and they know nothing about what goes on in the community. I think that you should place the politicians in an internship before they are allowed to make decisions about for instance the national health service.

64 years / male / single / children / biomedical scientist / Ballerup / from Somaliland / came to Denmark in 1973 / residence permit same year


Jovan Okanovic Jeg er overbevist om, at integrationsproblemer kunne løses, hvis der var politisk vilje til det. Desværre ser vi i stedet en politisk bevægelse, der udnytter folks naturlige angst for det fremmede. Jeg tænker nogle gange på, om problemet med udlændinge opstod, fordi Vesten manglede en syndebuk efter Sovjetunionens sammenbrud.

I am convinced that if there was sufficient political will, integration problems could be solved. Unfortunately, instead we see a political movement exploiting people’s fear of the unknown and the other. I sometimes ask myself if the problem with foreigners arose, because the West needed a scapegoat after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

På grund af Jugoslaviens position mellem Øst- og Vestblokken opfattede mange jugoslavere det som deres rolle at skabe forsoning i verden. Børn lærte sange om fred, for freden var selve målet med opdragelsen, og det gjorde mig stolt. Jeg ville en rigtig jugoslavisk kommunisme baseret på fred, og derfor gik jeg på gaden og protesterede mod den demokratisering og liberalisering, der fandt sted i 70’erne. Det kom som et chok for mig, at mine protester førte til, at jeg blev nødt til at forlade det land, som jeg forgudede. I Danmark opdagede jeg, at mange af de idealer, jeg havde kæmpet for, allerede var realiseret i liberale demokratier i Vesteuropa, men det gik mig på, at folk i den tredje verden betalte prisen for vores privilegier. Jeg ville ønske, at der var mere politisk vilje til at skabe en lige verden, men jeg ser et stort forandringspotentiale i de sociale medier.

Because of Yugoslavia’s geographical position between the eastern and western blocks, many Yugoslavs perceived themselves to be the ones to promote reconciliation in the world. Children were taught songs about peace, because peace was seen as the actual purpose of their upbringing, and this commitment made me proud. I wanted proper Yugoslavian communism based on peace, so I took to the streets and protested against the democratisation and liberalisation process which took place during the ‘70s. It came as a shock to me that my protests resulted in my having to leave the country that I so adored. In Denmark I found out that many of the ideals, which I had fought for, were already implemented in Western European democracies. But it bothered me that people in developing countries were the ones to pay the price for our privileges. I wish that there was a stronger political will to create an equal world, but I envisage a huge potential for change in the social media.

Historisk har eliten haft monopol på sandheden, men i dag kan alle med en internetforbindelse komme til orde, og det kan potentielt føre en strålende tid med sig, hvor mennesker informerer hinanden uden om eliten. Men de sociale medier baner også vejen for en farlig fremtid. Den værste racist kan få sine budskaber ud med sin telefon, og hvordan skelner man mellem reelle og falske fakta?

70 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / pensioneret journalist / Frederiksberg / fra Jugoslavien / kom til Danmark i 1974 / opholdstilladelse i 1978

Historically the elite has always had monopoly on the truth, but today anyone with an internet connection can have their say. This can potentially lead to an amazing time where people inform each other and bypass the elite. On the other hand, social media also pave the way for a more dangerous future. Even the most racist person can spread messages via his phone, and how do you distinguish between real and false facts?

70 years / male / in a relationship / children / retired journalist / Frederiksberg / from Yugoslavia / came to Denmark in 1974 / residence permit in 1978


Jana Novak Når jeg føler mig fremmed, er det på grund af sproget, så jeg er måske 20% fremmed. Men jeg er altid blevet målt på mine kvalifikationer som designer og som menneske, ikke på min baggrund, og det sætter jeg pris på.

When I feel foreign it is because of the language, so perhaps I am 20% foreign. I have always been judged on the basis of my qualifications as a designer and a human being. Not on my background, which I appreciate.

Jeg er vokset op i et kærligt hjem med en mor og en far, som kyssede hinanden lige til det sidste, og jeg har altid gerne villet skabe en lige så kærlig familie selv. Jeg deler hus med min søn og hans familie, og det er en stor lykke for mig at være tæt på mine børnebørn. Gennem dukketeater, tegning og leg forsøger jeg at give den kreativitet, som har fyldt så meget i mit eget liv, videre til dem, og jeg bliver glad og rørt over deres fantasifulde påfund. Men mit familieliv er også forbundet med sorg. For 18 år siden gik min datter, og hun har ikke villet se mig siden. Hun har fortalt sin far, at det skyldes en episode, lige efter vi var kommet til Danmark, hvor jeg skulle have lukket hende inde i kælderen. Jeg forstår ikke, hvor den historie kommer fra, og ville gerne have mulighed for at tale med hende om det, for visheden om, at det hele kan skyldes en misforståelse, er ikke til at bære. Da min mor skulle dø, flyttede jeg ind hos hende. Jeg sov i en seng ved siden af hendes, og hun fortalte mig om sin barndom, sin ungdom, sit kærlighedsliv, alt.

I was raised in a loving home with a mother and a father kissing each other until the very end, and I have always aspired to create a loving family of my own. I share a house with my son and his family, and it is such a blessing to be close to my grandchildren. Creativeness has always played a big role in my life, and I try to pass it on to them via puppetry, drawing and play, and I become so happy and touched by their imaginative ideas. However, my family life has also been associated with grief. Some 18 years ago my daughter walked out, and she has refused to see me ever since. She has told her father that this was due to an episode just after we arrived in Denmark, when I was supposed to have locked her up in the basement. I have no idea where the story comes from, and I would have liked to talk it over it with her, because the knowledge of it all being based on some misunderstanding is unbearable. When my mother was dying I moved in with her and slept in a bed next to hers, and she told me about her childhood, her youth, her love life, everything.

I dag er der ikke noget, jeg mangler at tale med min mor om, og jeg tænker tilbage på tiden med stor kærlighed. Jeg ønsker, at jeg en dag kan tage en lige så smuk afsked med mine børn.

Today there is nothing more I need to speak to my mother about, and when I think back to those days, it is with deep affection. I hope that one day I may say an equally beautiful goodbye to my children.

71 år / kvinde / enlig / børn / designer / Hårlev / fra Tjekkoslovakiet / kom til Danmark i 1974 / opholdstilladelse samme år

71 years / female / single / children / Hårlev / designer / from Czechoslovakia / came to Denmark in 1974 / residence permit same year


Trang Thuy Hoang Pham Det er først, når nogen spørger mig, hvor jeg kommer fra, at jeg tænker over, at jeg ikke er født her. Både min mand og jeg kom hertil som børn, og jeg ville nok have været mere dansk, hvis ikke det var fordi, han også er vietnameser. Jeg er meget taknemmelig over, at vi sammen kan holde de vietnamesiske traditioner i live.

It is only when someone asks me where I come from that I am reminded that I was not born here. Both my husband and I were children when we came to Denmark, and if my husband hadn’t been Vietnamese too, I would probably have been more Danish. But I am grateful that together we can keep the Vietnamese traditions alive.

Min yndlingshøjtid er det vietnamesiske nytår. Her samler vi hele familien. Vi er omkring 44 personer. Vi hygger hele natten lang med traditionel vietnamesisk mad og spil. Det er ikke som en almindelig dansk fest, der slutter på et bestemt tidspunkt. Mange bliver her og overnatter, så festen er først rigtigt ovre, når vi har spist brunch den næste dag. Simon, vores uofficielle plejesøn, er også med hvert år.

My favourite celebration is the Vietnamese New Year. We gather the whole family, that is around 44 people. We have a pleasant time all night with traditional Vietnamese food and games. It is not like a Danish celebration which ends at a certain time. A lot of people stay overnight, and the party doesn’t really finish till after brunch the following day. Simon, our unofficial foster son, also joins us every year.

Simon var fem år, da han og hans to søskende kom til Danmark fra Vietnam. Han følte sig aldrig rigtigt hjemme hos sin adoptivmor, så da han opdagede, at der var en vietnamesisk familie i byen, flyttede han på det nærmeste ind hos os. Der gik ikke lang tid, før han blev en del af børneflokken. Han siger, at jeg minder ham om hans biologiske mor, og at han føler sig hjemme her. Simon har haft svært ved at få styr på livet. Vi har hjulpet ham så meget, som vi kunne. I dag er vi officiel aflastningsfamilie for hans søn, Philip, som er opkaldt efter vores søn. Jeg tror på mange måder, at Simon var for gammel, da han kom hertil. Han blev revet væk fra alt det, han kendte, og fra den ene dag til den anden fik han et nyt hjem, et nyt navn og en ny mor. Mit hjem er sammen med min familie her i Danmark, og Simons hjem er her hos os.

44 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / regnskabsmedarbejder / Borup / fra Vietnam / kom til Danmark i 1975 / opholdstilladelse samme år

Simon was five when he and his two siblings came to Denmark from Vietnam. He never really felt at home with his adoptive mother, so when he discovered another Vietnamese family in town, he practically moved in with us. It wasn’t long till he became a part of the brood. He says I remind him of his biological mother, and that he feels at home here. Simon has had a tough time getting a grip on life. We have helped him as much as we could. Today we are officially a relief family for his son Philip, named after our son. I think that Simon was too old when he arrived here. He was torn away from everything he knew, and overnight he was placed in a new home and given a new name and a new mother. My home is with my family here in Denmark, and Simon’s home is here with us.

44 years / female / in a relationship / children / accountant / Borup / from Vietnam / came to Denmark in 1975 / residence permit same year


Khanh Nguyen-Cong Det er ikke et spørgsmål om, hvorvidt man føler sig fremmed, men mere et spørgsmål om, hvorvidt man føler sig hjemme. Hvis man kommer fra København og flytter til Randers, kan man også føle sig fremmed. Når folk spørger mig, hvor jeg kommer fra, så siger jeg Borup, og så spørger de, jamen hvor kommer du virkelig fra? Men vi kommer vel egentlig fra det sted, hvor vi føler os hjemme. Vi boede i Høje-Taastrup, da min far døde, så min kone og jeg flyttede til Borup for at være tættere på min mor. Det var en ret stor omvæltning, men også en omvæltning, vi aldrig har fortrudt. Vi bor i et sølvbryllupskvarter med vores fire børn, og her kommer man hinanden ved på en helt anden måde, end man gør i byerne, hvor man ofte slet ikke kender sine naboer. Vi hjælper hinanden med både store og små ting. Min nabo bringer os altid æg, og i bytte får han brød. Det skaber tryghed og et stærkt sammenhold.

Jeg er lokalpatriot og kæmper for udkantsdanmark. Jeg gør mit bedste for at støtte de lokale forretninger og foreninger og er bl.a. medlem af vores idrætscenter, selvom jeg aldrig bruger det. Jeg har kæmpet for at bevare alt fra vores biograf, som er Danmarks ældste, men stod til at skulle lukke, til at Borup-borgerne kan fortsætte med at have andel i vores forbrændingsanstalt, der ellers stod til at blive solgt. Jeg mener, at det er vigtigt, at man engagerer sig i sit samfund, og at man gør sit bedste for at sikre, at alle har det godt og føler sig trygge og velkomne. Selvom børnene nok på et tidspunkt flytter ind mod byerne, tror jeg aldrig, at vi flytter fra Borup. Vi kan kun håbe på, at de vender tilbage, når de engang stifter familie.

45 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / ejer af TIMEmSYSTEM / Borup / fra Vietnam / kom til Danmark i 1975 / opholdstilladelse samme år

It is not a question of feeling foreign, but a question of feeling at home. If you come from Copenhagen and move to Randers, you might feel foreign, too. When people ask me where I come from, I say Borup, but then they will ask, where do you really come from? I guess we come from where we feel at home. We lived in Høje Taastrup when my father passed away, so my wife and I moved to Borup to be closer to my mother. It was a big change, but one that we have never regretted. We live, with our four children, in an area full of the silver generation. Here we matter to one another in a completely different way to how they do in the cities, where you often don’t even know your neighbours. We help each other with big and small things. My neighbour will often bring us eggs, and in return we give him bread. It creates security and a strong unity.

I am devoted to my local region, and I fight for the Danish outskirt regions. I do my best to support the local businesses and associations, and I am a member of our local sports centre even though I never use it. I have fought to preserve our local cinema, which is also the oldest in the country, when it was about to close, and I have fought to let the citizens of Borup continue to have a share of our incinerator plant which was about to be sold. I think it is important to engage in society and do your best to make sure that everybody feels comfortable and welcome. The children will probably move to town, but I don’t think that we will ever move from Borup. We can only hope that they will return when they start a family.

45 years / male / in a relationship / children / owner of TIMEmSYSTEM / Borup / from Vietnam / came to Denmark in 1975 / residence permit same year


Quyen Quyen Cong Minh Nguyen I fem år har jeg taget toget fra Ølstykke til København. Hver dag sidder jeg ved siden af de samme mennesker i en halv time frem og tilbage, men vi taler aldrig sammen. Nogle af dem har jeg kendt i fem år, men jeg ved ikke engang, hvad de hedder. Lige præcis på det punkt føler jeg mig meget vietnamesisk, men jeg har aldrig følt mig fremmed.

Day in and day out for the last five years I have been commuting between Ølstykke and København by train. Every day I sit next to the same people for half an hour there and half an hour back, but we never engage in any conversation. I have known some of them for five years, but I don’t even know their names. In that respect I feel very Vietnamese, but I have never felt foreign.

Jeg blev gravid, da jeg gik i gymnasiet. Jeg var ung og på nogle måder slet ikke klar til at være mor. Men selvom det var en overvældende situation at stå i som 19-årig, blev min datter modtaget med kærlighed af hele familien. Det var stadig yderst vigtigt for mig at bevise, at jeg kunne gøre min uddannelse færdig. Det betyder nemlig alt for en vietnameser.

I became pregnant when I was still in high school. I was young and in some ways not prepared to become a mother. But even though it was an overwhelming situation to be in as a 19 year old, my daughter was received with love by my entire family. It was extremely important to me to prove that I could complete my education. This means everything for us Vietnamese.

I dag smiler jeg, når jeg ser på mine gymnasiebilleder, hvor jeg som den eneste står med en studenterhue på hovedet og en baby på armen.

Today I can’t help smiling when I look at my high school photos, where I am the only one with a graduation cap on my head and holding my baby.

Nu har jeg fire børn og arbejder som projektassistent. Ved siden af mit arbejde har jeg haft mit eget rejsebureau, været smykkedesigner, undervist i madlavning og er også kasserer og bestyrelsesmedlem i Ølstykke Taekwondo Klub. Vi sidder aldrig stille i mit hjem. Vores børn skal selvfølgelig også hjælpe til, selvom de har en masse fritidsaktiviteter. Jeg håber, at jeg gjorde min far stolt. Jeg mistede ham for 20 år siden. Det er et tab, jeg aldrig vil komme mig over.

I now have four children and I work as a project assistant. In addition to my work, I have also run my own travel agency, I have been a jewellery designer, a cookery teacher, and I am also a cashier and board member in Ølstykke Taekwondo Club. In our home we never sit still for a second. My husband and I naturally expect our children to help out, even though they have lots of activities in their free time. 20 years ago I lost my father and this is a loss I will never get over, but I just hope that I made him proud.

48 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / projektassistent / Ølstykke / fra Vietnam / kom til Danmark i 1975 / opholdstilladelse samme år

48 years / female / in a relationship / children / project assistant / Ølstykke / from Vietnam / came to Denmark in 1975 / residence permit same year


Waldo Wilfredo Salomon Rodriguez Som årene går, føler jeg mig mere og mere dansk. Men som ny dansker vil jeg sige:

As the years pass I feel more and more Danish. But as a new Dane I would like to add:

Føj for en udlændingepolitik, der bliver ført nu. Nye flygtninge har meget barskere vilkår, end vi havde. Og jeg er bange for, at den aktuelle, menneskefjendske udlændingepolitik vil føre til det stik modsatte af integration.

The current immigration policy is absolutely vile. New refugees have harsher conditions than we had. And I’m afraid that the inhuman immigration policy will lead to the direct opposite of integration.

Det er marginalisering af værste skuffe. Tænk, et holdningsskred på bare 40 år.

It is marginalization at its worst. And it is a major change of attitude in just 40 years.

Jeg kom til Danmark som flygtning fra Chile i 1976 som modstander af Pinochets militærdiktatur. Jeg blev anholdt straks efter kuppet i 1973 og sad i fængsel i næsten tre år inden, at jeg blev udvist. Jeg landede i Aarhus og syntes, at alt var frygteligt svært i starten kulturen, sproget, klimaet, men især det at vente og håbe på, at jeg snart kunne vende hjem til Chile igen. Midt i alt det svære var det altafgørende, at danskerne viste stor solidaritet med alle os flygtninge fra Latinamerika. Vi blev blev accepteret for det, vi var, nemlig politiske flygtninge. Da jeg forlod Chile i 70’erne, var der mange militærkup i Latinamerika, som var støttet af USA og nogle europæiske lande. Disse kup var brutale mod de progressive kræfter, som forsøgte at indføre demokratiske samfund. Tusindvis af mennesker blev enten dræbt, de forsvandt, blev fængslet eller tortureret. Mange blev udvist, og mange flygtede. Efter en lang stabil periode er højrefløjen sammen med USA begyndt at iværksætte såkaldte “bløde” kup. Formålet med disse kup er atter at indføre neoliberal økonomisk politik, som vil øge fattigdommen i landene. Jeg er meget bekymret for Latinamerikas fremtid, så jeg er glad for, at min familie og jeg nu bor i Danmark.

I came to Denmark as a refugee from Chile in 1976, I was an opponent of the Pinochet military dictatorship. Immediately after the coup in 1973 I was arrested and imprisoned for three years, before I was deported. I landed in Aarhus, and to begin with I thought that everything was terribly hard – the culture, the language, the climate, but worst of all was the waiting and hoping to be able to return to Chile. Amidst all this, the big solidarity the Danes showed toward all us refugees from Latin America was essential. We were accepted for what we were, namely political refugees. When I left Chile in the 70s there were several military coups taking place across Latin America, supported by the US and some European countries. These coups were brutal against progressive forces trying to introduce democratic societies. Thousands of people were either killed, went missing, were imprisoned or tortured. Many were deported and many fled. After a long and stable period the right wing in Latin america and the US have begun introducing “soft” coups. The purpose of these coups is to re-introduce neoliberal economic politics, which will increase the poverty in these countries. I am really worried about the future of Latin America, so I’m pleased that my family and I now live in Denmark.

64 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / områdeinspektør hos ejendomsselskab / Frederiksberg / fra Chile / kom til Danmark i 1976 / opholdstilladelse samme år

64 years / male / in a relationship / children / area inspector with a property company / Frederiksberg / from Chile / came to Denmark in 1976 / residence permit same year


Vinh Hien Do Vi er vietnamesere. Vores baggrund kan vi ikke lave om på. Men vi lever 100% i det danske samfund. Det vil sige, at i hverdagen tænker vi ikke på, om vi er danskere eller vietnamesere. Vi er her bare 100%.

Jeg er katolik og har altid gerne villet være præst. Jeg var tæt på at få mit ønske opfyldt, da jeg blev tvunget til at flygte. I Danmark måtte jeg indse, at min drøm nu var forbi. Jeg havde en familie i Vietnam, som jeg skulle forsørge, og jeg havde simpelthen ikke råd til at fortsætte mine studier. Derfor valgte jeg at læse til ingeniør. Jeg havde små jobs, indtil min kone og jeg fik skrabet tilstrækkeligt sammen til at købe en lille kiosk. Vi arbejdede mange timer, og det var ikke altid lige nemt at jonglere arbejde, børn og uddannelse på samme tid, men vi klarede os. Senere købte vi en restaurant, og selvom jeg ikke er uddannet kok, solgte jeg Hundiges sprødeste svær på flæskestegen. Vi solgte restauranten og byggede i stedet en fabrik for at skabe flere jobs til vietnameserne i Danmark. Vores familie og venner har altid troet på os og på vores drømme. Hver gang vi har begivet os ud på et nyt eventyr, har de bakket os op og til tider endda hjulpet os økonomisk på vej. En gang lykkedes det mig at skrabe 1,5 mio. kr. sammen på bare tre dage, da vi havde problemer med fabrikken. Vi arbejder ikke længere som selvstændige, og nu er det tid til at gå ned i gear og nyde livet med alle de fantastiske mennesker, vi er omgivet af.

64 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / tekniker hos NKT Photonics / København V / fra Vietnam / kom til Danmark i 1980 / opholdstilladelse samme år

We are Vietnamese. We cannot change our background. But we live 100% within Danish society, which means that in everyday life we don’t think about being Danish or Vietnamese. We are just here 100%.

I am a catholic, and I always had the ambition of becoming a priest. I was close to getting my dream fulfilled when I was forced to flee. Arriving in Denmark, I realised that my dream was over. I had a family back in Vietnam to support, and I simply couldn’t afford to continue my studies. So I decided to study engineering. I had all kinds of odd jobs until my wife and I managed to scrape enough money together to buy a small corner shop. We both worked long hours, and it wasn’t always easy to juggle work, children and education at the same time. But we managed. Later I bought a restaurant as this had much more potential. Even though I am not a trained chef, my roast pork had the crispiest pork crackling in the suburb of Hundige. We sold the restaurant and built a factory to create more jobs for the Vietnamese in Denmark. Our family and friends have always believed in us and in our dreams. Every time we have embarked on a new adventure, they have backed us, and at times even helped us financially. Once we had problems at the factory I managed to scrape 1,5 million kroner together in just three days. We no longer work as self-employed, so now it is time to gear down and enjoy life with all the fantastic people we are surrounded by.

64 years / male / in a relationship / children / trained engineer, technician with NKT Photonics / Copenhagen V / from Vietnam / came to Denmark in 1980 / residence permit same year


Thị Minh Châu Nguyễn Jeg føler mig hjemme her. Det meste af min familie er her, og jeg har en stor omgangskreds gennem den katolske kirke, det vietnamesiske samfund og mit arbejde. Jeg mangler intet, og føler mig i dag mere hjemme her end i Vietnam.

I feel at home here. Most of my family is here, and through the Catholic Church I have a large circle of friends, as well as friends from the Vietnamese community and my work. I want for nothing, and today I feel more at home here than I do in Vietnam.

Jeg har aldrig grædt over de ting jeg har oplevet. Jeg var soldat i Vietnam og har set mange ting, jeg gerne ville være foruden. Mit liv her i Danmark har heller ikke altid været lige nemt, især kartoffelkuren ramte mig og min mand hårdt som restauratører, og vi havde dårligt nok råd til at leve.

I have never resorted to tears over the things I have experienced. I was a soldier in Vietnam, and I have seen many things I wish I hadn’t. My life here in Denmark has not always been a bed of roses. The financial crisis hit my husband and I pretty hard, we owned a restaurant, but we could barely afford to live.

Jeg har aldrig grædt over min situation. Men da jeg læste på Hf, skulle vi lave en opgave om HC Andersen. Jeg skulle læse ‘Den lille pige med svovlstikkerne’. Hendes smerte ramte mig, og pludselig begyndte jeg at græde. Det var som om jeg blev kastet tilbage til en anden tid.

I have never cried about my situation. When I studied HF we did an essay about Hans Christian Andersen. I had to read ”The Little Match Girl”, her pain hit me, and suddenly I started crying. It was like being thrown back to another time.

Til dengang jeg var en lille pige, som gik i skole i Laos, der hørte jeg nemlig den samme smukke historie. Jeg får stadig tårer i øjnene når jeg tænker på hende, og jeg ved egentlig ikke hvorfor, den rammer mig bare. For 2 år siden gik jeg på pension, men jeg kunne altså ikke finde ud af at sidde derhjemme. Derfor arbejder jeg nu deltid i hjemmeplejen, og jeg elsker at kunne give de ældre den omsorg, de har brug for. Min egen far er sidst i 90’erne og bor hjemme hos min søster. Det er et kæmpe ansvar at påtage sig, når man også har et job og en familie at tage sig af. Derfor synes jeg, at det danske plejehjemssystem er en rigtig god løsning. Det giver børnene en frihed og en tryghed, som min søster mangler i sin hverdag.

66 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / uddannet ingeniør / sosuhjælper / København V / fra Vietnam / kom til Danmark i 1980 / opholdstilladelse samme år

Back to the time when I was a young girl who went to school in Laos, which is where I read the story about the little girl who had nothing. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of her, and I don’t know why, it just hits me. I retired two years ago, but just couldn’t cope with sitting at home, so I now work part time in the home service and I love being able to provide the elderly with the care they need. My own father is in his late 90s and lives with my sister. It is a huge responsibility to take on when you also have a job and a family to take care of. So I think that the Danish nursing home system is an excellent solution, it gives freedom to the children and the safety that my sister needs in the daily life.

66 years / female / in a relationship / children / København V / trained engineer / health care worker / from Vietnam /came to Denmark in 1980 / residence permit same year


Tri Huu Nguyen Jeg tror, at de fleste flygtninge oplever en 10-års krise, når de har fået en uddannelse, en familie og et job. Når du er blevet en del af samfundet, men du stadig føler dig fremmed. Jeg overvejede at flytte til USA, hvor man ikke dømmer på samme måde, men så faldt jeg til ro igen. Jeg er ikke dansker eller vietnameser. Jeg er bare en del af samfundet.

I think that most refugees experience a 10-year crisis once they have completed their education, started a family, and got a job. When you have become part of the society, yet still feel foreign. I contemplated moving to the US where people are not judged in the same way, but then I calmed down again. I am neither Danish nor Vietnamese. I am just part of the society.

Da jeg kom til Danmark. vidste jeg, at jeg ville have mig en god uddannelse.

When I arrived in Denmark, I knew that I wanted a good education.

Da jeg fortalte min sagsbehandler, at jeg ville starte på lægestudiet, var hun meget overrasket, men hun hjalp mig med at finde en vej. Selvom mit sprog var begrænset, endte jeg alligevel med at få det højeste gennemsnit på min årgang. I dag ejer jeg en klinik i Hvidovre og en i København og satser på en dag at starte en kæde. Jeg kommer til at arbejde til det sidste. Som buddhist tror jeg på, at jeg tager alt det, jeg har opnået, med mig i det næste liv. Jeg har aldrig været meget religiøs, men min tro har alligevel betydet en del for mig og den måde, jeg ser livet på. Jeg har ikke været tilbage i Vietnam mange gange, men jeg var der både, da min mor og far døde. For en buddhist er det vigtigt at dø i eget hjem sammen med familien. Min mors sidste ønske var, at jeg kørte hende hjem fra hospitalet. Hun døde i elevatoren på vej ned, men jeg fik genoplivet hende. Mine søstre og jeg kørte den otte timer lange tur hjem til landsbyen, mens vi skiftedes til at holde hende i live med hjælp af en håndpumpe. Hun døde hjemme.

53 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / speciallæge i gynækologi / Hvidovre / fra Vietnam / kom til Danmark i 1981 / opholdstilladelse samme år

When I told my social worker that I wanted to study medicine, she was very surprised, but she helped me find a way. Even though my language was rather limited, I ended up scoring the highest average in my year. Today I own a clinic in Hvidovre and one in Copenhagen, and I hope one day to start a chain of clinics. I plan to work until the very end. As a Buddhist I believe that I can bring everything I have achieved into the next life. I have never been overly religious, but my faith has nevertheless meant a lot to me in terms of how I define life. I haven’t been back to Vietnam that many times, but I was there when my mother and my father died. For a Buddhist it is important to die at home with your family. My mother’s last wish was that I drove her home from the hospital. She died in the lift on the way down, but I resuscitated her. My sisters and I then drove her the eight-hour trip to the village, while we took it in turns keeping her alive with a hand pump. She died at home.

53 years / male / in a relationship / children / consultant in gynaecology / Hvidovre / from Vietnam / came to Denmark in 1981 / residence permit same year


Nima Alijani Hvis du spørger mig nu, mens du interviewer mig, føler jeg mig mere fremmed, end jeg normalt gør. Jeg føler mig nok 80% dansk og 20% fremmed. Men på en dag, hvor alting bare kører for mig, føler jeg mig 97% dansk. Jeg tænker sjældent på mig selv som udlænding. Jeg var to år, da jeg kom til Danmark, og jeg lærte dansk, før jeg lærte persisk.

If you ask me now during this interview, I feel more foreign than I usually do. Probably around 80% Danish and 20% foreign. But on a day where everything just runs smoothly, I feel 97% Danish. I rarely think of myself as a foreigner. I was only two years old when I arrived in Denmark, and I learned Danish before I learned Persian.

Noget af det vildeste, jeg har prøvet, var, da jeg blev medlem af den danske frimurerorden, den ældste loge i verden. Deres optagelsesprøve var ret grænseoverskridende. Jeg har arbejdet meget med mig selv, siden jeg blev medlem, og jeg sparrer en del med de ældre derinde. I dag tror jeg mere på mig selv og mine idéer, hvilket er utroligt vigtigt som iværksætter. Ordenen har også hjulpet mig med at blive et mere positivt tænkende menneske. Min svigerfar fik mig ind i logen, og han har på mange måder ageret som en slags forbillede for mig.

One of the most outrageous things I have tried was when I became member of the Order of Danish Freemasons, the oldest order in the world. Their entrance test was taboo-breaking. Since becoming a member I have worked a lot with myself, and I spend a lot of time there sparring with the elders. So today I believe more in myself and my ideas, which is incredibly important as an entrepreneur. The Order has also turned me into a more positive human being. My father-inlaw managed to get me into the Order, and he has in many respects been a role model for me.

Jeg har altid haft et anstrengt forhold til min egen far. Efter vi kom til Danmark, fortsatte han flugten ved at flygte fra os.

I have always had a rather strained relationship with my own father. After we came to Denmark it was as if he continued fleeing, only now from us.

Jeg savnede ham meget, da jeg var lille, og i dag taler vi ikke særlig meget sammen.

I missed him terribly when I was young, and today we rarely speak.

33 år / mand / i et forhold / iværksætter / København Ø / fra Iran / kom til Danmark i 1984 / opholdstilladelse samme år

33 years / male / in a relationship / entrepreneur / Copenhagen Ø / from Iran / came to Denmark in 1984 / residence permit same year


Ranjan Joel Ranjansen Jeg er 75% fremmed. På grund af min farve og min accent ser folk mig som en fremmed, men når de lærer mig at kende, opdager de, at jeg er meget dansk. Jeg konverterede fra hinduisme til kristendom, skiftede navn og sagde farvel til det tamilske miljø i Aars for at skabe de bedste rammer for, at mine børn kunne få det godt i Danmark. Men jeg spiser stadig med hånden. Det sidder i min krop. Danmark er formet af kristne principper. I kristendommen sorterer man ikke folk, og man bliver ikke et bedre menneske af at spise eller ikke spise noget bestemt eller af at gå i kirke på særlige tidspunkter. Samme tanker ser man i det danske samfund, hvor selv de kongelige opfører sig som almindelige mennesker.

Jeg kan især godt lide kronprins Frederik. Hans far er meget fransk, men Frederik har valgt sin egen stil. Han har udstået ekstreme prøvelser med Frømandskorpset, men kommer alligevel til skade i trampolinen med sin søn. Det viser, at han er som os andre. Han er en far med de begrænsninger, en far nu engang har. Jeg har meget godt at sige om det danske sundhedsvæsen, som i kristen ånd behandler alle lige, men psykiatrien, hvor jeg har arbejdet, er et svært sted at være. Mange mennesker får så meget medicin mod ubehagelige tanker, at de bliver syge på andre måder. Antidepressiv medicin virker som algefjerner på havefliserne. Algerne dør, men det samme gør alt andet levende. Man bør overveje, om man altid skal bruge algefjerner, eller om man engang imellem hellere skal lære folk at gå forsigtigt hen over algerne.

55 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / Græsted /social- og sundhedsassistent / fra Sri Lanka / kom til Danmark i 1984 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I would say that I am 75% foreign. Because of the colour of my skin and my accent, people see me as a foreigner, but when they get to know me more, they discover that I am very Danish. I converted from Hinduism to Christianity, I changed my name, and I said goodbye to the Tamil community in Aars so I could create the optimal environment for my children to ensure that they can have a good life in Denmark. I still use my hands for eating, though. It is part of my bodily DNA. Denmark has been shaped by Christian principles. In Christianity one doesn’t classify people, and you don’t become a better person by eating or not eating something in particular, or even by going to church at set times. These are also the ideals one can notice in Danish society, where even the royal family members behave like ordinary people.

I am particularly fond of Crown Prince Frederik. His father is very French, but Frederik has chosen his own style. He has completed an extremely tough assignment as member of the Danish Frogman Corps (special forces unit), yet he still hurt himself on the trampoline with his son. It goes to prove that he is as vulnerable as the rest of us. He is a father with the limitations of an ordinary father.I have a lot of good things to say about the Danish health service, which, in the Christian spirit, treats everyone equally, but the psychiatric ward, where I work, is a really testing place to be. People are being prescribed way too much medicine to counter unpleasant and compulsory thoughts, so the side effects simply make them sick other ways. Antidepressant medicine functions as an algae remover. The algae die, but so does everything else which is living. One should consider if it is always the best thing to use algae remover, or whether you should teach people to walk carefully over the algaes? 55 years / male / in a relationship / children / Græsted / health care assistant / from Sri Lanka / came to Denmark in 1984 / residence permit same year


Usha Grace Balamanoharan Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed, overhovedet ikke. Jeg har aldrig taget en bevidst beslutning om, at jeg ikke skulle tilbage til Sri Lanka, men krigen fortsatte, tiden gik, og lige pludselig var jeg blevet student, gift med en mand, som ikke vil tilbage, og mor til to børn, som ikke taler mit sprog. Lige pludselig var jeg blevet dansk. Da jeg var sidst i 30’erne, gik jeg ned med stress. Da jeg havde det værst, kunne jeg ikke engang overskue at gå i bad.

Stress er en folkesygdom forårsaget af en stræben efter det perfekte liv. Man skal være den perfekte mor, den perfekte kone, den perfekte medarbejder. Man skal handle ind, betale husleje, have styr på sin pension. Det giver mig åndenød. Samtidig bliver man konstant bombarderet med nyheder om alverdens elendighed, men jeg har ikke lyst til at se videoer med folk, som bliver tortureret, for jeg kan ikke gøre noget ved det. Jeg bliver trist, føler mig afmægtig og kan ikke holde fokus på den nære verden, hvor jeg faktisk kan gøre en forskel for andre. Jeg får lyst til en enkeltbillet til en øde ø. Jeg længes tilbage til min barndom. Jeg boede på et asylcenter og oplevede det som lykken. Jeg så ikke usikkerheden og havde ingen bekymringer. Jeg identificerer mig med Pocahontas. Hun elsker naturen, snakker med dyrene og er uskyldig og naiv. Hun kender ikke til al den vold, der er i verden. Hun bor i fred og tager imod dem, der kommer udefra, med åbenhed. Det fremkalder en længsel hos mig efter noget mere oprindeligt. En mindre verden og et større nærvær.

47 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / lægesekretær / Frederikssund / fra Sri Lanka / kom til Danmark i 1984 / opholdstilladelse i 1985

I don’t feel like a foreigner, not at all. I never made a conscious decision not to return to Sri Lanka, but the war carried on, time passed, and before I knew it I had graduated from college, become married to a man who did not wish to return, and I had become the mother of two kids not speaking my language. All of a sudden I had become Danish. When I was in my late 30s, I went down with stress. When it was at its worst, I couldn’t even manage taking a shower.

Stress is a widespread national disease caused by the quest for the perfect life. You have to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect employee. You have to do the shopping, pay the rent, be in control of your pension. You end up out of breath, all whilst you are constantly bombarded with all the misery in the world. But I don’t want to watch videos of people being tortured, because there is nothing I can do about it. I feel sad, powerless, unable to stay focused on the immediate world where I can actually make a difference for others. It makes me wish for a single ticket to a desert island. I long to get my childhood back. I lived at an asylum centre and actually was extremely happy. I didn’t see the uncertainty and I had no worries. I identify myself with Pocahontas. She adores the nature, talks with the animals, and she is innocent and naive. She is unaware of the violence in the world. She lives in peace and accept and is tolerant with outsiders. It evokes a longing in me for something more authentic. A smaller world with more presence.

47 years / female / in a relationship / children / medical secretary / Frederikssund / from Sri Lanka / came to Denmark in 1984 / residence permit in 1985


Thava Nielsen Jeg rejste tilbage til Sri Lanka for første gang for fire år siden efter 29 år i Danmark, men jeg blev tilbageholdt i lufthavnen dér beskyldt for at være en af de terrorister, som var rejst ud af landet dengang under krigen. Jeg blev afhørt i nogle timer, inden jeg fik lov at gå. Det var en ubehagelig oplevelse og et tydeligt billede på, at jeg ikke kommer hjem, når jeg rejser til Sri Lanka, men at jeg rejser hjemmefra for at besøge det land, jeg voksede op i.

Four years ago, after 29 years in Denmark, I travelled back to Sri Lanka for the first time, but I was detained at the airport there and accused of being one of the terrorists who had left the country during the war so many years ago. I was questioned for a couple of hours before they let me go. It was an upsetting experience, but it confirmed that I do not return home when I go back to Sri Lanka, but that I in fact leave my home in Denmark to visit the country I grew up in.

Efter at der for to år siden kom et nyt og mere venligt styre i Sri Lanka, er jeg begyndt at rejse derned en gang om året. Jeg bruger det som et feriested og er glad for at få mulighed for at lære mit land at kende igen. Men selvom du ligner en lokal, klæder dig som de lokale, taler sproget, snakker med folk og gør, hvad du kan for at blende ind, kan folk se, at du kommer fra et andet sted. Jeg bliver opkrævet turistpris, når jeg skal ind et sted, og folk spørger, hvor jeg er fra, fordi jeg åbenbart lugter anderledes.

Two years ago, a new and more friendly, open government came to power in Sri Lanka, and since then I have started visiting once a year. I see it as a holiday resort, and I am of course pleased to have the chance of getting to know my country again. But even if you look like a local, dress like one, speak the language, walk around and chat with people, and do your best to blend in, local people can immediately see that you come from elsewhere. I get charged tourist prices when I go out in town, and people ask me where I come from, because I smell different.

Jeg synes, at det er dejligt at sidde i en stor flok og spise og hygge, men efter noget tid får jeg brug for at trække mig tilbage og være lidt alene. Det synes de fleste i Sri Lanka er dybt mærkeligt. 30 år i Danmark sætter sine spor og forandrer dig på måder, som du ikke bemærker. Jeg har ændret mig enormt meget uden at lægge mærke til det, og uanset hvor ihærdigt jeg prøver, er jeg ikke længere en af de lokale dér, hvor jeg er født.

55 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / social- og sundhedsassistent / Hillerød / fra Sri Lanka / kom til Danmark i 1984 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I think it is nice and cozy to sit in a large group and eat together, but after some time I need time to retreat and be alone for a while. Most Sri Lankans find this quite strange. Thirty years in Denmark leave their mark and change you in ways you don’t even register. I have changed enormously without noticing, and I am no longer one of the locals where I was born.

55 years / male / in a relation / children / health care assistant / Hillerød / from Sri Lanka / came to Denmark in 1984 / residence permit same year


Mukuntharaj Karunaratnam Jeg tænker ikke på mig selv som en fremmed. Ind imellem er der nogle uvidende mennesker, som siger, at jeg ikke hører til her, men så siger jeg til mig selv, at deres billede af menneskeheden ikke har noget med mig at gøre. Jeg vil gerne have, at mine børn skal elske Sri Lanka, men de skal føle sig danske. Hvis nogen spørger til deres farve, siger jeg, at de skal svare, at deres forældre er fra Sri Lanka, men at de selv er herfra.

Vi planlagde aldrig at blive i Danmark, men holdt gradvist op med at tro på, at vi skulle tilbage til Sri Lanka som andet end turister. Vi passer ikke ind mere. Samfundet har ændret sig, og det samme har vores mentalitet. Ubevidst har vi givet slip på en masse, men vi holder også fast. Vi er hinduer. For os er Gud alle steder. Du skal ikke gå et bestemt sted hen for at opsøge Gud. Hvis du opfører dig ordentligt, er Gud med dig. Vi opdrager vores børn i den hinduistiske tro, men vi vil ikke have, at religionen skal begrænse dem. Vi har få tamilske venner, men vi vil gerne have, at vores børn taler og forstår sproget, for det er en del af os og dem. Min kone og jeg mødtes i Danmark. Vores ægteskab blev arrangeret gennem min brors kones familie. Hos os er et ægteskab ikke kun en pagt mellem to personer, men en pagt mellem to familier, som skal have det godt sammen. For vores børn bliver det anderledes. Vi kommer ikke til at arrangere deres ægteskaber. De skal vælge selv, men jeg håber ikke, at de vælger nogen med en meget anderledes baggrund.

52 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / selvstændig restauratør / København Ø / fra Sri Lanka / kom til Danmark i 1984 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I don’t consider myself as a foreigner. Occasionally there are some ignorant people who say that I don’t belong here, but then I tell myself that their perception of humanity is irrelevant for me. I would like my children to love Sri Lanka, but to feel Danish. If someone asks about the colour of their skin, I tell them to explain that their parents came from Sri Lanka, but that they are from here.

We never planned to stay in Denmark, but gradually we stopped believing that we would ever return to Sri Lanka other than as tourists. We don’t fit in any more. Society and the world have changed, and so has our mentality. Unconsciously we have let go of many things, but we also stick to some things. We are Hindus and for us, God is everywhere. You don’t have to go to a certain place to seek your God, and if you behave properly, God is with you all the time. We raise our children in the Hindu faith, but we don’t want the religion to limit them in any way. We have only few Tamil friends, but we want our children to master the language, as it is a part of us and part of them. My wife and I met in Denmark. Our marriage was arranged through the family of my brother’s wife. For us, marriage is not just a pact between two people, but it is a pact between two families. It will be different for our children. We are not going to arrange their marriages of course. They must choose their partners themselves, but I hope that they will not choose someone with a very different background.

52 years / male / in a relationship / children / restaurateur / Copenhagen Ø / from Sri Lanka / came to Denmark in 1984 / residence permit same year


Adnan Axacan Efter jeg har fået børn i Danmark, er Danmark blevet mit hjemland, og jeg er blevet dansk kurder. Jeg ville ikke have noget imod at være dansk dansker, men jeg kan ikke løsrive mig fra Kurdistan. Min familie er dér sammen med min fortid, min idealisme og mine drømme. Jeg mistede troen, da jeg studerede teologi i Ankara. I mødet med professorer, som levede af at undervise i islam, men aldrig dukkede op til bøn, begyndte nye spørgsmål at presse sig på. Havde folk ikke valgt teologistudiet pga. deres tro? Hvorfor lugtede en af mine undervisere af alkohol, og hvorfor bad min sidsteårsstuderende sambo ikke? I takt med at jeg konfronterede folk, mistede religionen sin selvfølgelighed, og jeg stillede for første gang mig selv spørgsmålet: Tror jeg overhovedet på religion? Det gjorde jeg ikke, og det gør jeg stadig ikke. I stedet tror jeg på mennesker, og jeg tror på, at det bedste, man kan lære børn, er selvstændighed. Skandinaviens største styrke er, at man opdrager børn til at være selvstændige.

Det danske skolesystem var en øjenåbner for mig, selvom det i starten var forbundet med stor frustration, for hvordan skulle jeg lære noget på et seminarium, hvor alt var til forhandling? Men jeg lærte noget, nemlig at der ikke findes én, men mange sandheder, og hvis jeg kan argumentere for min sandhed, så kan den være lige så god som din. Den tankegang forsøger jeg at give videre til mine elever. Den er langt vigtigere end deres rangering i en eller anden PISA-måling.

58 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / folkeskolelærer / Brøndby Strand / fra Tyrkiet / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 1985 / opholdstilladelse samme år

Following the birth of my children here in Denmark, Denmark has become my home country, and I have become a Danish Kurd. I would not have anything against becoming a Dane, yet I cannot tear myself away from Kurdistan. My family is there together with my past, my idealism and my dreams. I lost my faith when I studied theology in Ankara. By meeting professors, who were teaching Islam but never showed up for prayers, new questions arose. Didn’t people choose to study theology because of their faith? Why did one of my teachers smell of alcohol, and why did my flatmate not pray? As I confronted people, religion seemed to lose its truism, and for the first time I asked myself the question: Do I believe in religion at all? I did not and I still don’t. Instead I believe in human beings, and I believe that the best you can teach children is independence. The biggest strength of Scandinavia is that one raises children to be independent.

The Danish school system was an eye opener for me, despite the fact that initially it was associated with a lot of frustration, because how was I supposed to learn something at Teaching College when everything was negotiable? I did learn something though, namely that there is not one but several truths, and if I can argue for my truth, it can be just as right as yours. This is the mindset I attempt to pass on to my pupils. It is far more important than their score in some PISA survey.

58 years / male / in a relationship / children / school teacher / Brøndby Strand / from Turkey / Kurdish background / came to Denmark in 1985 / residence permit same year


Galawiesh Abeid Man kan tale perfekt dansk og have boet hele sit liv i Danmark og stadig føle sig fremmed. Jeg plejer at sige til folk, at det, de oplever i Danmark, ikke er racisme, men en mere grundlæggende mentalitet. Danskerne er ikke udadvendte.

You can speak perfect Danish and have lived all your life here, yet still feel foreign. I usually tell people that what they may experience in Denmark is not racism but more a basic mentality. The Danes are not outward.

Jeg er ikke en Alt for Damerne-kvinde. Jeg dyrker ikke sport og kan ikke lide at bruge al min tid på madlavning og rengøring. Brødrene Karamazov af Dostojevskij er mere min verden. Som ung politisk aktivist måtte jeg flygte op i de kurdiske bjerge, hvor jeg kom til at arbejde på et hjemmelavet hospital. Indimellem græd jeg, fordi det hele var så beskidt og primitivt, men jeg holdt ud, fordi det gav mening. I Bagdad havde jeg næsten ikke spist. I bjergene var min appetit stor, og det så jeg som et godt tegn.

I am not a woman’s magazine kind of woman. I don’t do sports, and I hate spending all my time cooking and cleaning. My world is more like that of the Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. As a young political activist I had to flee up into the Kurdish mountains, where I ended up working at some temporary hospital. Sometimes I cried because it was all so dirty and primitive. But I persevered because it made sense. While in Baghdad I hardly ate, my appetite in the mountains was huge, and I saw that as a good sign.

Livet er mere end bare at være smuk og køn. Livet er mere end mig, min mand og min lykke. Man må forsøge at gøre en forskel for andre end sig selv og sin familie. Hvor er det skønt, når nogen siger: “Mit barn, du er ikke centrum i verden”.

There is more to life than being pretty and sweet, and life is in fact more than me, my husband and my happiness. You must try to make a difference for others than yourself and your family. I love when someone says: “My child, you are not the centre of the world”.

Jo mere energi, man giver sit jeg, jo mere vil det have. Jeg kom til Danmark, fordi jeg havde brug for sikkerhed for mig selv og min familie, men da jeg vænnede mig til sikkerheden, så jeg noget i samfundet, som chokerede mig. Folk koncentrerer sig meget om deres jeg. For mig giver det ikke mening at sige, at man er sin egen lykkes smed. Min lykke afhænger i høj grad af andre mennesker, og i min familie er der ikke noget, der hedder, det er dit problem. Det vil altid være vores.

The more energy you feed your ego, the more it needs. I came to Denmark because I needed security for myself and my family. But having got used to this security, I became aware of something in society which shocked me. People concentrate a lot on their ego. It doesn’t make sense to me to say that you make your own happiness, as the Danish saying goes. My happiness depends to a large extent on other people, and in my family there is no such thing as your problem. It is always ours.

58 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / pædagog / Lille Kregme / fra Irak / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 1986 / opholdstilladelse i 1987

58 years / female / in a relationship / children / pedagogue / Lille Kregme / from Iraq / Kurdish background / came to Denmark in 1986 / residency permit in 1987


Shahow Muhaeddine Jeg har et godt job og en god uddannelse her i Danmark, men alligevel føler jeg mig ikke hjemme her. Mine børn er danske. Jeg ved ikke, hvad jeg er. Jeg er født i Irak, har boet 30 år i Danmark, men jeg er oprindeligt kurder. Min identitet er splittet, og jeg mangler et hjem. Når der er VM i fodbold, mærker jeg aldrig det dér sus, som andre føler, hvis deres land vinder. På mange måder føler jeg mig hjemløs, og nu hvor jeg er blevet ældre, er den følelse blevet forstærket. Jeg drømmer tit om at rejse ud i verden og lede efter et sted, hvor jeg kan føle mig hjemme. Jeg er sikker på, at jeg ikke er den eneste, der har en splittet identitet, i hvert fald her i Danmark.

Det chokerede mig, da jeg havde to gamle venner på besøg fra Tyskland og Sverige, at de ikke følte sig splittede. Når jeg talte om danskerne, sagde jeg ‘dem’, mens de sagde ‘vi’ om svenskerne og tyskerne. Hvorfor de føler sig hjemme der, ved jeg ikke.

In Denmark I have a good job and a good education, yet I still don’t feel at home. My children are Danish. I am not sure what I am. I was born in Iraq, I have lived in Denmark for 30 years, but I am originally Kurdish. My identity is split and I still need a home. During the world championships in football, I never feel the buzz others feel when their country wins. In many respects I feel homeless, and now that I have grown older, the feeling has actually intensified. I dream about travelling the world, looking for a place to call home. Anyway, I am quite sure that I am not the only one with a split identity.

I was shocked when I had a visit from some old friends now living in Germany and Sweden, when they said that they didn’t feel split. When I spoke about Danes, I said “them”, whereas they said “we” about the Swedes and about the Germans. Why they feel at home there I don’t know.

Jeg tror måske, at det er fordi, jeg altid bliver spurgt, hvor jeg kommer fra. Jeg kan kun huske én person, som har været ligeglad med min baggrund her i Danmark. Hun var min chef lige efter, at jeg var færdiguddannet. Jeg nåede at arbejde der i to år, før hun spurgte mig, hvor jeg oprindeligt var fra. Det var ikke det, der var vigtigt for hende. Hun bedømte mig på mit arbejde og på min person. Det betød rigtigt meget for mig.

Perhaps it is because I am constantly asked where I come from. I only remember one person here in Denmark who has been indifferent to my background. She was my boss just after I had finished my education. I had worked there for two years before she even asked. It wasn’t important to her. She judged me by my work and my personal ability. This really meant a lot to me.

54 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / Brøndbyøster / uddannet maskinarbejder / parkeringsvagt / fra Irak / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 1986 / opholdstilladelse samme år

54 years / male / in a relationship / children / trained as a machine worker / traffic warden / Brøndbyøster / from Iraq / with Kurdish background came to Denmark in 1986 / residence permit same year


Bilal Elfout På arbejde er jeg lige som alle andre, og når jeg er hjemme, er jeg bare mig. Jeg har mange drømme for mit liv i Danmark, men min største drøm er at komme til at bo i Palæstina. Jeg har en nøgle til det hus, som mine bedsteforældre forlod i 1948. Den går i arv fra generation til generation og er en påmindelse om, at vi på et tidspunkt skal vende hjem.

At work I am just like everybody else, and when I come home I am just me. I have many dreams for my life in Denmark, but my biggest dream of all is to be able to live in Palestine. I have a key for the house that my grandparents left back in 1948. It has been passed on from generation to generation as a reminder that we, at some stage, will return home.

Efter 11. september 2001 gik jeg i medierne for at gøre opmærksom på, at angrebene ikke afspejler, hvordan alle muslimer tænker. Jeg ville bygge bro, men medierne skabte en kløft, og den gruppe af moderate muslimer, som før havde debatteret, gad ikke længere stille op i medierne. Mange af os var gået ind i debatten med en forventning om gensidig respekt, men vi blev mødt med et ensidigt krav om, at vi skulle underkaste os ytringsfriheden og finde os i, at der blev gjort grin med vores religion. Og så skulle vi tage afstand fra det ene og det andet: hijab, omskæring, halalslagtning. Vi kommer fra et mangfoldigt samfund.

After September 11 I went to the Danish media to point out that the attacks did not reflect the thoughts of all Muslim people. I wanted to build bridges, but the media just created a divide, and the group of moderate Muslims, who used to engage in debates, got fed up with lining up for the media. Many of us had entered the debate with an expectation of mutual respect, but we were met with a one-sided demand to subject ourselves to the freedom of speech and tolerate that our religion was made into laughing matter. And we were expected to distance ourselves from this and that - hijabs, circumcision, halal slaughtering. We come from a diverse society.

Men hvis vi alle skal være danske på den samme måde, mister folk lysten til at engagere sig i samfundet. Og det er et problem, for hvis jeg vil beholde halalkødet, tørklædet osv., bliver jeg nødt til at engagere mig.

But if we all have to be Danish in exactly the same way, people lose their desire to engage in society. And that is a problem, because if I want to keep the halal meat, the scarf, etc., I have to do something.

I forbindelse med det seneste kommunalvalg startede jeg initiativet “Yalla Stem” for at få folk til at brokke sig i stemmeboksen frem for på sofaen, men det bliver sværere at få folk med på den slags initiativer. Jeg ønsker fortsat at bygge bro, men kan ind imellem tage mig selv i at tvivle på, at det nytter.

In the run op to the last municipal elections, I started the initiative “Yalla Vote” in order to get people to voice their complaints via the voting booth rather than complaining from the couch, but it is getting harder to get people to join these initiatives. I want to continue building bridges, but I sometimes doubt if it will be of any use.

48 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / systemadministrator / København N / født i flygtningelejr i Libanon / palæstinensisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 1986 / opholdstilladelse samme år

48 years / male / in a relationship / children / system administrator / Copenhagen N / born in a refugee camp in Lebanon / Palestinian background / came to Denmark in 1986 / residence permit same year


Khalil Ahmad Jeg er ikke 100% fremmed, men heller ikke 100% dansk. Mine vaner og min døgnrytme er tilpasset samfundets rytme. Jeg står tidligt op, cykler på arbejde og holder fri i weekenden. Men jeg er også præget af min baggrund. Jeg holder fast i, at man skal have lov til at praktisere sin religion, selvom man bor i et land, hvor de fleste er ateister. I mange kommuner er integrationsindsatsen lagt sammen med beskæftigelsesindsatsen, men det er ikke nødvendigvis nogen god idé, for integrationspolitik er ikke lig med arbejdsløshedspolitik. Overordnet set kan man sige, at flygtninge har nogle udfordringer i forhold til at komme i job, som ikke gælder inden for det øvrige arbejdsløshedsområde, lige som der inden for det øvrige arbejdsløshedsområde findes udfordringer, som ikke gælder ret mange flygtninge. Man skal ikke pakke folk væk og tro, at de ingenting kan på grund af deres kultur, men man skal heller ikke se bort fra, hvor og hvad mennesker kommer fra.

Flygtninge skal ikke hjælpes på samme måde som personer, der er født og opvokset i Danmark. Hvis man vil ligestille folk, skal de behandles forskelligt.

I am not 100% foreign, but then again neither 100% Danish. My habits and rhythm have been adjusted to those of this society. I get up early, ride my bike to work, have weekends off. But I am also influenced by my background. I insist that you should be allowed to practice your religion, even though you live in a country where most people are atheists. In many municipalities, the integration department has been merged with the employment department, which is not necessarily a good idea since integration policy is not equal to employment policy. Overall one can argue that refugees have some additional challenges in terms of getting a job, which do not apply to others in the employment area and vice versa. One should not put people in boxes and think they can’t do anything because of their culture, but also you should not ignore from where and what people come.

Refugees should not be helped the same way as people born and raised in Denmark. If you want to treat people equally, you need to treat them differently.

For mig at se ville det være fint med et lavere lønniveau til flygtninge i en tidsbegrænset periode. Jeg ved godt, at nogle argumenterer for, at det ville trykke lønniveauet, men jeg tror, at man bliver nødt til at forsøge sig på den måde, for mange har til at starte med ikke et niveau, der matcher kravene på det danske arbejdsmarked.

To me it would be perfectly alright with a lower level of pay for refugees, albeit just for a limited period. I know that some would argue that this might lower the general level of pay. However, I think that you need to start this way, because too many refugees are just not able to start on a level which matches the requirements of the Danish labour market.

51 år / mand / i et forhold / cand.scient.soc. / integrationskonsulent / Roskilde / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark i 1987 / opholdstilladelse samme år

51 years / male / in a relationship / children / M.Sc. Sociology / integration consultant / Roskilde / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 1987 / residence permit same year


Agha Muhammad Nadeem Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed her. Danmark er mit hjem, ligeså meget som Pakistan, hvor jeg er født og opvokset. Jeg har boet her i 29 år. Jeg har både haft en kiosk og en slagterbutik her, og mit eneste problem er, at jeg aldrig har lært sproget.

I don’t feel foreign here. Denmark is my home just as much as Pakistan, where I was born and raised. I have lived here for the past 29 years. I have owned a kiosk and a butcher shop here, and the only problem is that I have never learned the language.

Jeg vil gerne vende hjem til Pakistan igen, men mine børn skal ikke med. De vil slet ikke kunne acceptere den måde, vi lever på der. Da de var små, var vi i Pakistan og ansatte en fattig pige fra gaden, som legede med børnene og spiste sammen med os. Men min familie blev forarget, for i Pakistan er folk opdelt efter deres sociale status. Jeg sagde til dem, at de kunne gå, hvis de ikke kunne acceptere den fattige pige. Jeg ønsker ikke, at mine børns holdning til andre skal ændre sig fra den danske, hvor alle er lige. Mange synes, at det er fjollet, at jeg vil rejse tilbage. Gennemsnitsalderen i Pakistan er 61, det danske hospitalsvæsen er gratis, og som ældre ved vi, at vi ender der før eller siden. Men det er meget vigtigt for mig at blive begravet i Pakistan.

I would like to return to Pakistan, but I wouldn’t take my children with me. There is no way they would accept the way we live there. When they were still small and we were in Pakistan, we employed a poverty-stricken girl just off the street. She played with my children and had her meals with us. But in Pakistan people are very segregated according to their socio-economic status, so my Pakistani family were outraged. I told them to leave my house if they couldn’t accept this poor girl. I don’t want my children’s perception of people to change from the Danish, where everyone is accepted as being equal. Many people don’t understand that I want to return despite the fact that the average life expectancy in Pakistan is only 61 and the Danish hospitals are free, and as we are growing older, we know that we will end up there sooner or later. It is important to me that my wife and I will be buried in Pakistan.

I Danmark er kirkegårdene tomme, men i Pakistan kommer folk dagligt og beder for deres afdøde familiemedlemmer. Jeg kan godt lide tanken om, at mine nære beder for mig. De har måske været bedre mennesker end jeg, så jeg håber på, at Allah hører deres bønner og tilgiver mig mine synder.

In Denmark the cemeteries are empty, whereas in Pakistan people go there every day to pray for their deceased family members. It is comforting to think that people close to me will be praying for me. Perhaps they have even been better people than me, so I hope that Allah will listen to their prayers and forgive me for my sins.

61 år / mand / i et forhold, børn / København N / selvstændig slagter / fra Pakistan / kom til Danmark i 1987 / opholdstilladelse samme år

61 years / male / in a relationship / children / Copenhagen N / owns a butcher shop / from Pakistan / came to Denmark in 1987 / residence permit same year


Parviz Yousefi Jeg bliver aldrig dansker. Jeg er iraner, og det er jeg stolt af, men nogen har frataget mig muligheden for at bo i mit hjemland, og nu er jeg også blevet fremmed der. Meget af min familie er stadig i Iran, og det er svært at leve uden dem, for en familie er ikke en familie i kraft af blodsbånd eller efternavne, men i kraft af de oplevelser, man har sammen.

I’ll never become Danish. I am Iranian and proud of it, but someone has deprived me of being able to live in my home country, and now I am also foreign there. Many of my family members are still in Iran, and it is hard to live without one’s family, since a family is not a family only due to blood ties or surnames, but because of the experiences you have together.

Det, der foregår i øjeblikket, er ikke en flygtningekrise. Det er en global ulighedskrise, som Vesten bærer et stort ansvar for, men ikke vil tale om. Vestlige olieinteresser har ødelagt meget i Mellemøsten, og når livet bliver til et helvede, så flygter folk.

What is happening right now is not a refugee crisis. It is a global inequality crisis, for which the West carries a large responsibility, but will not discuss. Western interests in oil have ruined many things in the Middle East, and when life becomes a veritable hell hole, people can only flee.

De er ikke dumme. De forlader ikke deres hjem, fordi de hellere vil leve af velfærdsydelser i Vesten. De flygter, fordi de ikke har andre muligheder, og de flygter derhen, hvor livet er.

They are not stupid. They don’t just leave their homes because they want to live off benefits in the West. They flee because they have no other options, and they flee to where life is.

I medierne taler man om hvor mange flygtninge, der kommer til Europa, hvor mange Danmark kan tage imod, og hvad man kan gøre for at holde dem ude. Men hvorfor er der ingen, der spørger, hvorfor der er så mange flygtninge? Hvorfor er der ingen, der søger årsager? Politikerne lever af det, der kommer ud af deres mund, og journalisterne reklamerer for dem, men sådan burde det ikke være. De, som har mikrofonen, har pligt til at søge sandheden, ikke sælge sig selv.

In the media they talk about the number of refugees coming to Europe, how many Denmark can take, and how you can keep them away. Why doesn’t anyone ask why there are so many refugees? Why doesn’t anybody look for the reasons? The politicians live of what comes out of their mouths, and the journalists make PR for them, but it shouldn’t be like that. The ones holding the microphone have a duty to search for the truth, not to promote themselves.

64 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / uddannet lærer / pensioneret buschauffør / København SV / fra Iran / kom til Danmark i 1988 / opholdstilladelse i 1989

64 years / male / in a relationship / children / trained teacher / retired bus driver / Copenhagen SV / from Iran / came to Denmark in 1988 / residence permit in 1989


Jamileh Ghiasvand Ud over det sproglige føler jeg mig ikke fremmed. Sprog er en barriere, men den er overkommelig.

Apart from the language, I don’t feel foreign here at all. The language is a barrier, but it can be conquered.

Jeg blev mor som 17-årig og flygtede fra Iran, da min datter var syv måneder. Jeg var helt forvirret og fulgte bare med. Tingene skete, uden at jeg havde nogen indflydelse. Jeg var naiv og uvidende og kendte ikke noget til verden. De første år i Danmark fortsatte på samme måde. Jeg passede mit barn og fulgte ellers bare med.

I became a mother at 17 and fled from Iran when my daughter was only 7 months old. I was confused, and I just followed everyone else. Things happened, and I had no influence at all. I was naïve and ignorant and knew nothing about the world. The first years in Denmark continued just like that. I looked after my child and just followed.

Først da jeg startede på VUC, vågnede jeg op. Indtil da havde jeg været nogens datter, nogens kone og nogens mor, men aldrig bare mig selv. I takt med at jeg begyndte at gøre tingene selv, fik jeg en identitet. For første gang i mit liv begyndte jeg at føle mig som et selvstændigt menneske. Jeg fandt ud af, hvad jeg var god til; at jeg er tålmodig og kan holde hovedet koldt, når der er kaos. Og jeg blev klar over, at jeg kan lide at arbejde med mennesker. Jeg begyndte at drømme om at blive sygeplejerske, men der var stopklodser i systemet, og de ødelagde den drøm. I dag er jeg uddannet social- og sundhedsassistent. Mit arbejde giver mig et særligt syn på livet, som er med til at definere mig. Jeg er mor til to piger. Jeg siger til dem, at de skal uddanne sig, så de kan opleve selvstændighed og lære sig selv og deres egne grænser at kende, sådan som jeg selv har gjort det.

44 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / social- og sundhedsassistent / Greve / fra Iran / kom til Danmark i 1989 / opholdstilladelse samme år

It wasn’t until I started at a VUC adult education course that I woke up. Until then I had been someone’s daughter, someone’s wife and someone’s mother, but I had never been me. As I started doing things myself, I developed an identity. For the first time in my life I began to relate to myself as an independent person. I found out what I was good at. I am patient and I keep cool when utter chaos prevails. I realised that I like working with people. I began to dream of becoming a nurse, but the system was lined with barriers, and they ruined the dream. Today I am a trained social and health care assistant. My work gives me a special outlook on life that helps define me. I am the mother of two girls. I tell them that they need to educate themselves so they can experience independence and get to know themselves and their limits, like I have.

44 years / female / in a relationship / children / health care assistant / Greve / from Iran / came to Denmark in 1989 / residence permit same year


Ibrahim Xhemajli Jeg har levet mere af mit liv i Danmark end i Kosova, og selvom jeg har brugt mange kræfter på at kæmpe for den albanske sag, så bidrager jeg til det danske samfund, og jeg betragter ikke mig selv som fremmed i Danmark. Jeg har lidt accent, men mine synspunkter er ikke langt fra dine.

I have now lived longer in Denmark than I did in Kosova, and despite having used a lot of effort fighting for the Albanian cause, I still contribute to the Danish society, and I don’t consider myself foreign in Denmark. Of course I speak with some accent, but my views are not far from other Danes.

Som ung deltog jeg i demonstrationer for bedre vilkår for albanerne i Kosova, og på grund af mine politiske aktiviteter tilbragte jeg fire og et halvt år i fængsel. Da jeg kom ud, begyndte jeg at læse medicin, og jeg manglede kun to år, da jeg måtte flygte. I Danmark kunne jeg ikke få lov til at fortsætte min uddannelse, så jeg begyndte at køre taxa og fik senere en uddannelse som pædagog.

When I was young I constantly took part in demonstrations for better conditions for the Albanians in Kosova, and because of my political activities I spent four and a half years in prison. When I was released I began medical school, and I was just two years short of completing it when I was forced to flee. I wasn’t allowed to continue my studies in Denmark, so I began to drive a taxi, and later I trained as a pedagogue.

Min karriere blev ødelagt af politik, men jeg fortryder ikke mine valg, for intet er mere værd end frihed. Så længe mit folk ikke er frit, er alt andet ligegyldigt. Da albanske medier i slutningen af 90’erne blev lukket, startede min kone Emine og jeg en radiokanal, så vi kunne holde albanere i Danmark opdateret om situationen i Kosova. Man må tænke kreativt, hvis man vil være politisk aktivist på afstand, og gennem radioen forsøgte vi at mobilisere folk til at støtte den albanske befolkning. Efterhånden har radioens fokus ændret sig. I takt med at situationen i Kosova stabiliserede sig, begyndte vi at fokusere mere på livet i Danmark. Vi behandler emner som kultur og integration, og det afspejler nok meget godt, hvordan mit eget fokus langsomt har ændret sig. Men jeg drømmer stadig om at tage tilbage en dag.

56 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / Brøndby Strand / uddannet pædagog / selvstændig taxachauffør / fra Kosova / kom til Danmark i 1989 / opholdstilladelse i 1990

My career was ruined by politics, but I don’t regret my choice at all, because nothing is more valuable than the freedom. As long as my people are not free, nothing else matters. When the Albanian media closed down in the late ‘90s, my wife Emine and I launched a radio channel here in Denmark, so we could keep all the Albanians in Denmark up to date about the situation in Kosova. You must think creatively if you want to continue with your activism at a distance, so through the radio we tried to mobilise people to support the Albanian people. Now that the situation in Albania has stabilised, the radio’s focus has changed. We focus more on life in Denmark, and we deal with issues such as culture and integration. In fact it reflects the way my own focus has slowly changed. But I still dream of going back one day.

56 years / in a relationship / children /Brøndby Strand / pedagogue / independent taxi driver / from Kosova / came to Denmark in 1989, residence permit in 1990


Kajaledchumy Sabanathan Holmsberg I min hverdag føler jeg mig ikke fremmed. Mit navn og mit udseende giver folk en naturlig interesse for at finde ud af, hvem jeg er. Det gør mig ikke noget særligt, men jeg føler mig ramt, når politikerne taler i negative vendinger om flygtninge og indvandrere, for så taler de også om mig.

In my daily life I don’t feel foreign. My name and my appearance give people a natural curiosity in trying to find out who I am. It doesn’t really affect me so much, but I do get affected when the politicians talk about refugees and immigrants in such negative terms, because this means that they are also talking about me.

Uretfærdighed gør mig vred. Som barn fik jeg at vide af min lærer til hver eneste forældresamtale, at jeg skulle holde op med at lege politibetjent, men jeg kunne ikke lade være med at blande mig, hvis jeg syntes, at en konflikt blev løst på en dårlig måde. Som voksen er jeg blevet mere diplomatisk, men jeg kan stadig blive indigneret og få lyst til at råbe op, når jeg får øje på sociale skævheder. Det går mig f.eks. på at se, hvor svært nogle familier har det på grund af kontanthjælpsloftet.

Injustice makes me angry. When I was a child, I was told by my teacher at every single parent consultation that I should stop playing the policeman. But I could not stop interfering if I thought that a conflict situation was being resolved badly. As an adult, I have become more diplomatic, but I still feel outraged and feel like screaming when I come across social imbalances. For example, seeing how some families might run into difficulties just because of the new curb on benefits.

Jeg tror ikke, at mennesker vælger at sige: Lad mig tage de her penge og blive hjemme i stedet for at stå op og tage på arbejde. Når folk gør det, er det fordi, de ikke har andre muligheder.

I don’t believe that people choose to say: let us take this money and then stay at home rather than get up and go to work. When people do this, it is because they have no other options.

Jeg tror ikke, at der er mange mennesker, som får mere overskud af at få færre penge. Det virker nok på nogle, men ikke på alle. Hvis det stod til mig, skulle man behandle folk forskelligt og tage stilling til den enkelte sag på baggrund af personens historie. Det ville kræve nogle ressourcer, men det ville være mere retfærdigt.

I also don’t believe that the majority of people become more stimulated and energised by receiving less money. It may work that way for some, but not for the vast majority. If it were up to me, one should treat people differently and decide each individual case based on the person’s situation. This would require more resources, but the results would be more fair.

32 år / kvinde / i et forhold / psykolog / København NV / fra Sri Lanka / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 1989

32 years / female / in a relationship / psychologist / Copenhagen NV / from Sri Lanka / from came to Denmark via family reunification in 1989


Banaz Heme Jezza Hvis du kan sproget og gør en indsats, kan du føle dig tilpas. Da mine børn var små, kom jeg i en mødregruppe i en kristen kirke, så de og jeg kunne blive bekendt med den del af den danske kultur. Jeg har forsøgt at motivere dem til at gå til sport og til at blive del af så mange fællesskaber og netværk som muligt, så de ikke skulle føle sig fremmede i Danmark.

If you know the language and make an effort, you will feel at ease. When my children were small, I joined the mothers’ group of a Christian church, so that they and I could familiarise ourselves with the Danish culture. I have tried to motivate them to do sports and to become part of so many communities and networks as possible, so they wouldn’t feel like foreigners in Denmark.

Mit liv og min skæbne er vævet sammen med det kurdiske folks kamp for et selvstændigt Kurdistan. Mine forældre var partisaner, og selvom det fyldte min barndom med frygt og savn, når de var borte, gav deres kamp mening til mit liv. Min far skrev sange og beskrev de menneskelige omkostninger ved at være partisan, samtidig med at han satte ord på vigtigheden af at blive ved med at kæmpe. Jeg var stolt over at være datter af et menneske, der utrætteligt satte sig selv og sit eget liv til side i kampen for fremtiden. Det gjorde mig stærk, og jeg troede, at jeg kunne modstå alt, men da jeg for nogle år siden mistede ham, mistede jeg mit liv. Jeg følte mig som et barn, der er blevet forladt.

My life and my destiny is intertwined with that of the Kurdish people’s battle for an independent Kurdistan. My parents were partisans, but although their absence filled my childhood with fear and distress, their fight gave meaning to my life. My father wrote political songs in which he portrayed the human costs of partisan life, while also emphasising the importance of the continued fight. I was proud to be the daughter of someone who tirelessly set his own life on stand-by in the battle for the future. This has made me strong, and I thought I could withstand everything, but when I lost him some years ago, I felt like I lost my life. I felt like an abandoned child.

Jeg havde levet gennem min far, de ting han gjorde og den kamp, han kæmpede, og pludselig virkede min tilværelse meningsløs og banal. Det har taget mig lang tid at finde tilbage til livet. Jeg kan ikke være min far, for han var så stærk, men jeg kan være en lille del af ham. Med mit studie forsøger jeg at skabe ny mening i livet. Måske kan jeg fortsætte hans kamp på min egen måde ved at tage tilbage til Kurdistan og undervise i pædagogik.

44 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / pædagogstuderende / Herlev / fra Irak / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 1990 / opholdstilladelse i 1991

I had lived through my father, the things he did, the battles he fought, and suddenly my life seemed meaningless and trivial. It has taken me a long time to get back to life. I can’t be my dad, because he was so strong, but I can be a small part of him. Through my studies I attempt to create a new meaning in life, so perhaps I can continue his fight by returning to Kurdistan and teach pedagogy.

44 years / female / in a relationship / children / pedagogy student / Herlev / from Iraq / Kurdish background / came to Denmark in 1990 / residence permit in 1991


Mohamad Ibrahim For 10 år siden havde jeg nok sagt, at jeg var 0% fremmed, men i dag nærmer jeg mig 30%. Det politiske klima har ændret sig. Fremmedhadet er blevet legitimt, og jeg ser nogle uhyggelige paralleller til tiden inden 2. verdenskrig og krigene i Bosnien og Libanon. Jeg tror ikke, at vi lærer af fortidens fejl. Mine bedsteforældre udvandrede fra Palæstina og mine forældre fra Libanon. Vi kom til Danmark ved en tilfældighed, og i vores hoveder er vi stadig flygtninge, så hvis udviklingen i Danmark pludselig tager fart, er vi mentalt forberedt.

10 years ago I would probably have said that I was zero percent foreign, but today I think I approach 30%. The political climate has changed, xenophobia has become legit, and I see some chilling parallels to the time just before WWII and the wars in Bosnia and Lebanon. I do not think we will learn from past mistakes. My grandparents emigrated from Palestine and my parents from Lebanon. We came to Denmark by chance, and in our minds we are still refugees, so should the development in Denmark escalate, we are mentally prepared.

Jeg håber, at vi om 10 år er færdige med at tale om flygtninge og indvandrere hele tiden, så vi i stedet kan diskutere reelle problemstillinger. Jeg vil f.eks. gerne tale om, hvordan vi sikrer velfærdsstatens overlevelse og en ikke bare veluddannet, men også alment dannet befolkning med en bred horisont og en evne til at se ud over egne interesser. Min gymnasietid har præget mig. Det kan lyde hippieagtigt, men jeg lærte noget grundlæggende om menneskerettigheder og forskellige måder at anskue verden på. Jeg kom til at overveje, hvordan vi kan få folk til at finde styrke i forskellighed.

I hope that we in ten years’ time have finished talking about refugees and immigrants all the time, so that we can start talking about the real issues. I would like to talk about how we ensure the survival of the welfare state, and how we ensure a generally well-educated population with a wide horizon and the ability to look beyond their own interests. My high school time has influenced me. It may sound a bit hippie-like, but I did learn something fundamental about human rights and various ways of looking at the world, and it made me think of how we can get people to find strength in diversity.

Jeg betragter mig selv som feminist og var på barsel i et halvt år med min søn. De første måneder har man mulighed for at få en unik relation til sit barn. Derfor mener jeg, at der burde være øremærket barsel til mænd. Nogle vil sige, at det ikke er mandens opgave at passe børn, men mennesket har udviklet sig, og vi lever ikke længere, som vi gjorde for bare 100 år siden.

31 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / strategic partner / Brøndby Strand / født i flygtningelejr i Libanon / palæstinensisk baggrund / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 1990

I consider myself a feminist, and I was on maternity leave for six months with my son. The first few months offer you a chance to get a unique relationship with your child, so I think some of the time should be earmarked for men. Some will claim it is not the man’s job to look after children, but man has evolved, and we no longer live like we did a century ago.

31 years / in a relationship / children / strategic partner / Brøndby Strand / born in a refugee camp in Lebanon / Palestinian background / came to Denmark via family reunification in 1990


Rasheed Howiedi Jeg var en af de palæstinensiske flygtninge fra Libanon, der boede i 154 dage i kælderen under Blågårds Kirke. Vi havde kirkeasyl, og der var rigtig mange mennesker der kæmpede for at vi kunne blive her i Danmark. Det er nok også derfor at jeg mærkede et sammenhold helt fra starten og ikke følte mig fremmed.

I was one of the Palestinian refugees from Lebanon who lived in the basement of the Blågårds Church for 154 days. We had church asylum, and a lot of people fought for us so that we could stay here in Denmark. That’s probably why I already from the beginning felt a unity and compassion so I did not feel foreign.

De fleste flygtninge er meget fokuserede på det land og den konflikt, de kommer fra. Meget få fokuserer på deres situation her i Danmark, på deres børn og deres fremtid. Men for mig har det været det vigtigste.

Most refugees are focused on the country and the conflicts they have left behind. In my opinion, only few focus on their situation here in Denmark, or their children and their future. But for me this has been the most important.

Jeg kan huske den dag det gik op for mig, at jeg kunne gøre en forskel her i Danmark. Det var søndag, og jeg havde lovet min søn, at vi skulle ud at spille fodbold. I vores gård var der nogle små drenge, der gik rundt og kedede sig og lavede tit ballade. Da de så os med bolden, spurgte de om de ikke måtte komme med. De elskede det, så vi aftalte at mødes igen næste søndag. Da jeg kom ned i gården ugen efter, blev jeg mødt af en hel flok drenge, der alle ville med. Der er mange unge indvandrerdrenge, der har brug for noget at tage sig til. De kæmper for at finde deres plads her i samfundet og føler sig tit dømt og misforstået. Som parkeringsvagt gennem 13 år har jeg udviklet en rimelig tyk hud og er meget tålmodig. De kvaliteter prøver jeg at give videre. Jeg prøver at give dem nogle gode hobbyer, så som fodbold, og jeg har også startet et hold med palæstinensisk folkedans. Så mærker de et sammenhold, som tit er det de søger efter ude på gaderne.

I remember the day it dawned on me that I could make a difference her in Denmark. It was a Sunday, and I’d promised my son that we would go down to our yard and play football. When we got down the yard some small boys were wandering around, obviously bored out of their minds. This sometimes led to their causing trouble. They saw us with the ball and they asked if they could join in. They just loved it, so we agreed to meet up the following Sunday. When I came down the week after I was met by a whole group of boys who all wanted to take part. A lot of immigrant boys need something to do. They are struggling to find their place in our society and they often feel labelled and misunderstood. Having been a traffic warden for 13 years I have become somewhat hard skinned, and I’m extremely patient. These are the qualities I will try to pass on to my children. I try to encourage them to enjoy some good hobbies such as football, and I have also started up a group learning Palestinian folk dance. It gives them a feeling of unity, which is often what they are searching for in the streets.

49 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / parkeringsvagt / Hvidovre / fra Libanon / palæstinensisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 1990 / opholdstilladelse i 1992

49 years / male / in a relationship / children / traffic warden / Hvidovre / from Libanon / Palestinian background / came to Denmark in 1990 / residence permit in 1992


Majid Kanan På sin vis har jeg været fremmed, siden jeg var 18 og forlod Irak, men jeg har aldrig følt mig fremmed. Fremmedhed er en følelse, der kommer indefra.

In a sense I have been foreign since I was 18, which is when I left Iraq, but I have never felt foreign. Feeling foreign is something that comes from within.

Jeg bliver påvirket af, hvordan man i dag ser på mennesker uden at se mennesker. Den tolerance, der før kendetegnede Danmark, er svær at finde i dag.

I am influenced by how today you look at human beings without actually seeing human beings. The tolerance, which used to characterise Denmark, is hard to find today.

Jeg tror, at medierne bærer et stort ansvar for den udvikling. De er for ensidige og går ikke i dybden, fordi alt for meget nyhedsformidling skal gå så hurtigt. I dag skal man kunne læse nyheder på sms, og så forsvinder nuancerne. Jeg kunne godt tænke mig, at medierne havde flere folk i Mellemøsten, og at der var flere reportager, der dokumenterede, hvordan livet er for de, som ellers ikke bliver hørt. I Vesten har vi en tendens til at glemme, at størstedelen af de, som bliver slået ihjel af Islamisk Stat, er muslimer. Jeg har i mange år arbejdet med blinde torturofre. Jeg har selv været udsat for tortur og vil gerne hjælpe andre tilbage til livet. De mennesker, som jeg møder gennem mit arbejde, forandrer mig. De fighter og vil livet på trods af blindhed og tortur, og det inspirerer mig og giver mig tro på livet. Jeg kan godt lide klassisk musik. Det giver mig en følelse af noget oprindeligt, et lavere tempo. Musikken suspenderer fornuften for en tid og appellerer i stedet til mine sanser og får mig til at danse eller græde. Den taler til mig som menneske og gør mig hel. Jeg er ikke et religiøst menneske, men som i sufismen tror jeg på, at krop og sjæl kan forenes via langsom musik.

I think that the media carry a big responsibility for that development. They are too one-sided and do not go into details because the news must be communicated so fast. You can now get news by text message, and so the subtlety disappears. I wish that the media had more people in the Middle East, and that there were more reports documenting the life of the people who are otherwise not heard of. In the West we tend to forget that the majority of the victims of the Islamic State are in fact Muslims. For many years I have worked with blind torture victims. I have also been a victim of torture, and I really want to help others back to life. The people I meet through my work change me. They fight and want a life despite their blindness and torture, and this inspires me and gives me belief in life. I like classical music. It gives me a feeling of something original, of a lower speed. The music suspends the common sense for a while, and it appeals to my senses and makes me dance or cry. It speaks to me like a human being and makes me complete. I am not a religious person, but like in Sufism I believe that body and soul can unite via slow music.

54 år / mand / i et forhold / familie- og beboerrådgiver / Tårnby / fra Irak / kom til Danmark i 1991 / opholdstilladelse samme år

54 years / male / in a relationship / family and occupant counselor / Tårnby / from Iraq / came to Denmark in 1991 / residence permit same year


Misha Zand Jeg kan godt svare på spørgsmålet om fremmedhed, men ikke i en national kontekst. For mig er fremmedhed noget eksistentielt. Der er så meget absurditet i verden. Massevandring af flygtninge på de danske motorveje får alt til at miste mening. Man konfronteres med verdens absurditet, og det fremkalder en form for eksistentiel fremmedhed. Der er noget absurd ved forståelsen af “hygge” som et unikt dansk fænomen, der ikke kan oversættes. Som om ingen andre har det så godt som os. En britisk journalist nailer det, når han peger på, at hygge er lig med konsensus.

I can reply to the question about feeling foreign, but not in a national context. For me being foreign is something existential. There is so much absurdity in the world. Mass migration of refugees on the Danish roads defies logic. You are confronted with the absurdity of the world, and it evokes a kind of existential alienation. There is something absurd in the way one perceives “hygge” as a unique Danish phenomenon which cannot be translated. As if no one else feels quite as well as us. A British journalist nails it when he points out that “hygge” is equal to consensus.

Man sidder rundt om middagsbordet og taler om Bagedysten eller noget andet totalt ufarligt, men hvis nogen bringer noget substantielt på banen, hvis én f.eks. åbner op for en diskussion om Danmark som krigsførende nation, så er hyggen ødelagt.

You sit around the dinner table and talk about some TV show or something else completely and utterly harmless, but if somebody dares to bring out something substantial, like someone starting a discussion about Denmark as a belligerent nation, all the “hygge” vanishes.

Jeg vil have rum til at være anderledes, mene noget andet og tale om noget, der ikke nødvendigvis er konsensus om. Ellers bliver det uinteressant. Jeg er et socialt menneske, men også et rastløst menneske. Det sociale skal give mening. Der er noget værdifuldt over at opleve en form for åndelig intimitet med folk, man ikke kender. For mig at se står og falder integration med menneskelig interaktion. Da jeg kom til Danmark i start 90’erne, mødte jeg en venlig stat, men en uvenlig befolkning. I dag er det omvendt. Det frivillige arbejde - det, at mennesker mødes og interesserer sig for hinanden - gør, at landet ikke bryder sammen.

I need space to be different, think alternatively and talk about matters which are not necessarily in consensus. Otherwise it becomes uninteresting. I am a social person, but also a restless one. The social must make sense. There is something valuable about experiencing some kind of spiritual intimacy with people you do not know. Integration depends on human interaction. When I came to Denmark in the early ‘90s, I met a friendly state but a hostile population. Today it is the other way around. The voluntary work - the fact that people meet and care about each other - ensures that the country does not collapse.

37 år / kvinde / enlig / cand.mag. i tværkulturelle studier / selvstændig/ København N / fra Iran / kom til Danmark i 1989 / søgte asyl i 1991 / opholdstilladelse i 1992

37 years / female / single / MA. in Intercultural Studies / self-employed / Copenhagen N / from Iran / came to Denmark in 1989 / applied for asylum in 1991 / residence permit in 1992


Farideh Fahimi Fremmedhed handler om, hvor man er følelsesmæssigt. Jeg stoler på mig selv og mine værdier og føler mig ikke fremmed.

Foreignness is all about how you feel emotionally. I believe in myself and my values, and I do not feel foreign.

Jeg ankom til Kastrup Lufthavn med min søn i den ene hånd og en kuffert i den anden. I Danmark ventede min mand, som var kommet året inden. Vi var i et nyt land og havde kun hinanden. Vi fik en søn mere, jeg kom ind på tandlægeskolen, og vi flyttede fra Odense til København, men så skete der noget. Først begyndte min mand at ødelægge ting, senere begyndte han at slå mig. I Iran havde ydre omstændigheder tvunget os fra hinanden, men nu var det noget indre, der truede med at splitte vores familie. Det var os selv. Jeg er et familiemenneske, men blev nødt til at spørge mig selv: Hvor vigtig er kernefamilien? Skulle jeg forsøge at holde sammen på den, indtil børnene var gamle nok til at flytte hjemmefra, eller skulle jeg vise mine børn, at mor er stærk, og at det er okay at sige fra? Jeg mistede kontakten til mine brødre, da jeg gik.

I arrived in Kastrup with my son in one hand and a suitcase in the other. My husband, who had arrived the year before, waited for me. We were in a new country and we only had each other. We had a second son. I started at the School of Dentistry, and we moved from Odense to Copenhagen, but then things started to happen. At first he began destroying things, and then he started hitting me. Back in Iran external circumstances had forced us apart, but now it was something inside which threatened to split our family apart. It was ourselves. I am a family oriented person, but I had to ask myself: how important is the nuclear family? Should I try and hold it all together until the children were old enough to move away, or should I show my children that mum is strong and that it is ok to say enough is enough? When I finally left, I lost contact with my brothers.

I sin erindringsbog skriver Tove Ditlevsen om at forlade en mand. Hun gør det ikke for sin egen skyld, men for sine børns skyld og for de værker, hun endnu ikke havde skrevet. Jeg spejler mig i hendes valg og den kamp, hun tog.

In her memoirs, Tove Ditlevsen writes about leaving her husband. She doesn’t do it for her own sake, but for her children and for the sake of her yet unwritten works. I mirror myself in her choice and the fight she fought.

Det er en af de kampe, som giver livet mening, og som giver styrke til at tro på fremtiden og til at tilgive det, der er sket i fortiden. Jeg har oversat bogen til persisk, fordi jeg synes, at 70 millioner mennesker i Iran skal have mulighed for at lære Tove Ditlevsen at kende.

It is a fight of the kind that gives meaning to life and that gives you the strength to believe in the future and to forgive what happened in the past. I have translated the book into Persian, because I believe that 70 million people in Iran should have the opportunity to get to know Tove Ditlevsen.

53 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / tandlægestuderende / Herlev / fra Iran / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 1991

53 years / female / in a relationship / children / studies dentistry / Herlev / from Iran / came to Denmark via family reunification in 1991


Evelina Gold Jeg kom til Danmark som niårig og føler mig 0% fremmed. I hvert fald her i København. Min far er russisk jøde, min mor er georgisk, og hendes kæreste er italiensk, så der bliver talt rigtig mange sprog til familiemiddagene. Jeg omfavner min blandingsidentitet og opfatter det mere som en styrke end en svaghed.

I was nine when I came to Denmark, and I feel zero percent foreign. At least here in Copenhagen. My dad is a Russian Jew, my mum is Georgian, and her boyfriend is Italian, so there are many languages around the dinner table. I embrace my mixed identity and perceive it as a strength rather than a weakness.

Som barn var jeg virkelig nørdet, gik altid i det forkerte tøj, var fan af forfattere i stedet for boybands og hørte Leonard Cohen i stedet for Ace of Base. I dag er jeg helt religiøs i forhold til Tønder Festival, som har folk og country på programmet. Jeg er helt høj, når jeg kommer hjem derfra hvert år. Til hverdag arbejder jeg som journalist og elsker mit arbejde. Jeg foretrækker de lidt skæve historier og personligheder. Det er også dem, jeg søger, når jeg rejser. Mine rejser har haft stor betydning for mig, især mine ture til Sydamerika og Sydstaterne i USA. Jeg elsker folks gæstfrihed, varme og ekspressivitet på de kanter.

As a child I was really nerdy, always wore the wrong clothes, a fan of authors rather than of boy bands and I listened to Leonard Cohen rather than to Ace of Base. Today I have an almost religious relationship with the Tønder Festival, which features folk and country music. Every year I am ecstatic when I return from there. I work as a journalist and love my work. I prefer the somewhat quirky stories and personalities. They are also the ones I seek out when I travel. My travels mean a lot to me, especially my trips to South America and the Southern States of the USA. I love the people’s hospitality, warmth and the way they express themselves.

Folk opfatter mig nok som en spraglet person, som taler med armene, griner højt og fylder meget. Jeg er allergisk over for det meget strømlinede og over for petitesse-regler. Der kunne godt være mere plads til det skæve og det anderledes herhjemme.

People may see me as a colourful person, who talks with her arms and laughs out loud. I’m allergic to anything streamlined and also to trivial rules. There should be more space for the quirky and eccentric here in Denmark.

Når folk kommer tilbage fra en tur til Italien, taler de om, hvor charmerende det er med folk, der snakker sammen hen over balkonerne, de farverige bygninger og vasketøjet, der hænger i gaderne. Men så undrer det mig, at man kommer hjem og stemmer for ro efter klokken 21 i andelsforeningen, og for at der kun må males med neutrale farver, og at der for alt i verden ikke må hænge vasketøj nogen steder.

34 år / kvinde / i et forhold / journalist / København N / fra Rusland / kom til Danmark i 1991 / opholdstilladelse i 1993

When people return from a trip to Italy, they talk about how charming it is with people on balconies chatting to one another across the street, the colourful buildings, the laundry hanging in the streets. But then it is weird that they come home and vote for quiet after 9 pm in the housing cooperative, they vote for only neutral coloured paint, and they will absolutely not allow laundry hanging out to dry.

34 years / female / in a relationship / journalist / Copenhagen N / from Russia / came to Denmark in 1991 / residence permit in 1993


Hassan Nur Wardere Hvor mange procent fremmed jeg føler mig? Det synes jeg er et mærkeligt spørgsmål. Jeg kommer ikke fra rummet! Danmark er mit hjem, men landet har bestemt ændret sig og ikke til det bedre. Samfundet er blevet mere lukket så på en måde kan man godt sige at Danmark er blevet fremmed for sig selv. Min familie er spredt ud over kloden, så det er virkelig heldigt at min kone har sådan en dejlig familie. De har taget imod mig med åbne arme og helt uden fordomme. Hendes farfar var nok det mest fantastiske menneske, jeg nogensinde har mødt. Han var kunstner og skabte meget politisk kunst under 2. Verdenskrig. Han endte med at komme i koncentrationslejr, og hans historie rørte mig dybt. Min kones familie er også meget tolerant, men det har nok også noget at gøre med, at de alle har en meget socialistisk tankegang. Hendes farmor gav fx sine børn både sorte og hvide dukker at lege med, så de kunne vokse op uden at dømme folk pga deres hudfarve. De værdier, jeg dyrker og handler efter, er de universelle værdier: medmenneskelighed, lighed og frihed. Og det er i virkeligheden grunden til at jeg er politisk aktiv. Jeg kæmper for at alle får lige muligheder baseret på medmenneskelighed. Jeg mener, at alle inderst inde er gode eller i hvert fald født gode. Det er opdragelsen og samfundets struktur, der kan ændre et menneske. Og derfor skal man ændre de ting i samfundet, der kan bringe det gode i mennesket tilbage igen.

51 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / pædagog / København Ø / fra Somalia / kom til Danmark i 1991 / fik opholdstilladelse samme år

What percentage foreign I feel? Weird question, I mean, it’s not like I’m from outer space! Denmark is my home, but the country has most certainly changed and not for the better. The society is more closed off, so one could say that Denmark has become foreign to itself. My family is scattered across the globe, so it’s fortunate that my wife has such a lovely family. They all met me with open arms and without any prejudice. Her paternal grandfather is probably the most fantastic person I have ever met. He was an artist, and during WWII he created a lot of political art. He ended up in a concentration camp, and his story touched me deeply. My wife’s family are all very tolerant, which probably has something to do with all of them having a socialist mindset. Her paternal grandmother would always give her children black and white dolls to play with, so they would grow up not judging people by the colour of their skin. The values I promote and act upon are what I would consider universal values: humanity, equality and freedom. And they are the reason I’m politically active. I fight for all to have equal opportunities based on humanity. I think everyone are good, deep inside, well, born good. What may change a human being is their upbringing and the structure of the society. So you must return the things to the society that can bring back the good in people again.

51 years / male / in a relationship / children / pedagogue / København Ø / from Somalia / came to Denmark in 1991 / residence permit same year


Sama Sadat Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed. I mit pas står der, at jeg er født i Afghanistan, og selvom det kan gøre nogle ting vanskelige, har jeg droppet at finde ud af, om jeg kan få det slettet, for det ville være at give op. Det er vigtigt at turde stå ved sine rødder og ved sin tro. Jeg er ikke meget forfængelig, men mit hår er en del af min kvindelighed, og jeg vil gerne kunne vise det frem. Men vi bør have stor respekt for de kvinder, som vælger at bære tørklæde, for det kræver styrke.

I don’t feel foreign. My passport says I was born in Afghanistan, and even if this does complicate matters sometimes, I have stopped trying to find out if I can have it deleted, because that would be giving up. It is important to stand by your roots and your faith. I am not that vain a person, but my hair is a part of my femininity and I like to be able to show it off. But we should respect the women who chose to wear a headscarf, because that takes strength.

Min verden stopper ikke ved Danmarks grænser. Jeg er vokset op med nyheder om Afghanistan og er formand for en organisation, der støtter udviklingsprojekter forskellige steder i verden. Jeg drømmer om at komme til at arbejde internationalt, men vil gerne stadig bo i Danmark, for jeg går også op i min nære verden. På vores første date fortalte jeg min forlovede, at det er vigtigt for mig altid at være der for mine forældre, også selvom jeg skal leve af havregryn.

My world goes beyond the borders of Denmark. I grew up with news about Afghanistan, and I am chairwoman of an organization which supports development projects across the world. I dream about working internationally, but I would still like to have my permanent address in Denmark, because I am also interested in the world closer to home. When we had our first date, I told my fiancé that it was important to me to always be there for my parents, even if it means having to survive on porridge.

Min mormor er døv, og da min morfar døde, lavede vi et vagtskema, så vi kunne sørge for, at en af os altid sover hos hende. Som familie skal vi være der for hinanden. Jeg vil gerne selv have børn en dag. Min forlovede synes, at vi skal adoptere, for når der er så mange forældreløse børn, hvorfor så ikke tilbyde nogle af dem en familie? Jeg forstår ham, men synes samtidig at graviditet er det smukkeste, og jeg ved ikke, om jeg er idealistisk nok til at give afkald på det? Man kunne eventuelt både få et barn og adoptere et, men kan man så elske dem lige højt?

26 år / kvinde / i et forhold / cand.soc. i Internationale Udviklingsstudier og Globale Studier / Brøndby Strand / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark i 1992 / opholdstilladelse i 1993

My grandmother is deaf, and when my grandfather died, we made a rota so we could make sure that there was always someone who could sleep by her side. As a family we must be there for each other. I would like to have children of my own one day. My fiancé thinks we should adopt, because when there are so many orphaned children, why not offer them a family? I can see his point, but I think that pregnancy is something beautiful, and I am not sure if I am idealistic enough to refrain from that. I suppose that we could have one child and adopt another, but can you love them both the same?

26 years / female / in a relationship / M.Sc. in International Development and Global Studies / Brøndby Strand / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit in 1993


Gazi Monir Ahmed Jeg er 100% dansker og vil aldrig tilbage til Bangladesh. Mit liv startede, da jeg kom til Nordvest. I Bangladesh følte jeg mig aldrig rigtigt sikker, så jeg udviklede mig ikke. Her ejer jeg min egen restaurant, Den Sorte Gryde, som jeg købte fem år efter, jeg kom til Danmark. Vi laver hovedsageligt dansk mad, men også indiske retter. Min yndlingsret er gullasch.

I am 100% Danish, and there is no way I am ever returning to Bangladesh. My life started when I came to Copenhagen Nordvest. In Bangladesh I never felt really secure, so I did not develop at all. Here I own my own restaurant, Den Sorte Gryde, which I bought five years after arriving in Denmark. We do a mainly Danish cuisine, but also Indian. My favourite dish is Goulash.

Som formand for oppositionspartiet Bangladeshs Nationalistiske Parti i Danmark kæmper jeg på afstand mod et korrupt styre. Vi arbejder på at afskaffe en regering, der ser gennem fingre med folkedrab og krænkelser af menneskerettighederne. Vi har arrangeret mange demonstrationer foran Bangladeshs ambassade i København, men vi kan ikke få ambassadøren i tale. Jeg er i dag ved at arrangere et møde med en socialdemokratisk EU-parlamentariker, Jeppe Kofod, i Bruxelles.

As leader of the opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party in Denmark, I fight a corrupt regime, albeit from a distance. We are trying to get rid of a government which turns a blind eye to genocide and violations of human rights. We have organised many demonstrations outside the Bangladeshi embassy here in Copenhagen, but we can never get to meet or talk to the ambassador. Today I am trying to arrange a meeting with Jeppe Kofod in Brussels where he works as a social democratic EU parliamentarian.

Jeg foreslår et fuldstændigt stop af Danmarks bistand til Bangladesh. Pengene bruges ikke i folkets interesse, men på at fodre et bundkorrupt system. Som skatteydende borger vil jeg ikke have, at mine penge går til at støtte en regering, hvis værdier står i direkte modsætning til de danske.

I am proposing a complete stop to Danish development aid to Bangladesh. The money is not used in the interest of the people, but to feed a bottomless pit in a corrupt system. As a tax-paying citizen I do not wish that my money is used to support a government whose values are in direct contrast to Danish values.

En regering, der minder om den, jeg flygtede fra, og som jeg bruger al min fritid på at bekæmpe. Når jeg kan, rejser jeg efter Bangladeshs statsminister og protesterer. Sidste uge var jeg for eksempel i London.

48 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / restauratør / København NV / fra Bangladesh / kom til Danmark i 1992 / opholdstilladelse samme år

A government which reminds me of the one I fled from, and which I use all my spare time to fight. Whenever possible, I follow the Bangladeshi prime minister and protest against the regime. Last week for example I travelled to London.

48 years / male / in a relationship / children / restaurateur / Copenhagen NV / from Bangladesh / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit same year


Selma Pervan Salcin Jeg føler mig nok 25% fremmed, men jeg føler mig mindre end 75% dansk. Jeg føler mig også fremmed i Bosnien, men til gengæld føler jeg mig 100% bosnisk. Min baggrund giver mig et særligt perspektiv, og så spiller sproget en rolle, for jeg er ikke 100% mig selv på dansk.

I feel about 25% foreign, but less than 75% Danish. In Bosnia I feel foreign too, but then on the other hand I do feel 100% Bosnian. My background gives me a special perspective, and the language plays a part in that too, because I don’t feel 100% myself in Danish.

Jeg er født og opvokset i et kommunistisk land, hvor man dyrkede fællesskab og broderskab, men ikke religion, og som barn vidste jeg ikke, at jeg var muslim. Det fandt jeg først ud af, da jeg som 12-årig fik at vide, at jeg som muslim ikke skulle bære sort tøj til en begravelse. Da vi kom til Danmark, begyndte vi at tage den muslimske identitet mere til os, men vi er moderate. Jeg ved at religion kan føre til splittelse, for det var religiøse spørgsmål, der førte til krigen og vores flugt. Vi fik en varm modtagelse i Danmark, og jeg tør ikke sige, om vi havde klamret os mere til religionen, hvis vi var blevet udstødt af samfundet, sådan som nogle flygtninge bliver det i dag.

I was born and raised in a communist country, where you cultivated community and brotherhood, but not religion. I didn’t find out I was a Muslim until I was 12 years old, when I was told not to wear black for a funeral. When we came to Denmark, we began to embrace the Muslim identity more and more, but we are moderate. I am aware that religion can lead to division, because it was religious issues which led to the war and our fleeing. We received a warm reception in Denmark, and I can’t say if we would have stuck more to the religion if we had been ostracised by the society the way that some refugees are today.

Ens kulturelle tilhørsforhold afhænger af, hvordan man bliver mødt. Man skruer op og ned for religion og traditioner for at passe ind eller for at have noget at holde fast i og pejle efter.

Your cultural identity depends on how you are received. One turns one’s religion and traditions up or down in order to fit in, or to have something to hold on to or to aim for.

Muhammedkrisen var en identitetskrise for mig, for debatten var polariserende. Jeg havde svært ved at identificere mig med nogen af siderne og savnede stemmer fra midten.

The Muhammed crisis became an identity crisis for me, because the debate was so polarising. I found it difficult to identify with either party and missed the voices from the centre.

37 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / kontorfunktionær / Frederiksberg / fra Bosnien-Hercegovina / kom til Danmark i 1992 / opholdstilladelse i 1997

37 years / female / in a relationship / children / office worker / Frederiksberg / from Bosnia-Herzegovina / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit 1997


Natasha Todorovich Juhl Jeg føler både, at jeg er 0% og 100% fremmed, men ikke noget derimellem. Jeg har taget stort set alle aspekter af den danske kultur til mig, men jeg sætter spørgsmålstegn ved den danske forståelse af ligestilling. Selv ikke danske feminister værdsætter de bløde familieorienterede værdier, der traditionelt tænkes som feminine. De vil have kvinder til at agere som mænd, og det er der for mig at se ikke meget ligestilling over. I Danmark blev serberne udnævnt som de onde i forbindelse med krigene i Eksjugoslavien.

9/11-angrebene blev fordømt som en forfærdelig terrorhandling, mens man to år tidligere havde fejret NATOs bombardement af Serbien, hvor lige så mange mistede livet, som et udtryk for retfærdighed. Jeg syntes, det var hyklerisk og ville væk, så da jeg var færdig med gymnasiet, flyttede jeg til Serbien. De første år var gode, men efterhånden faldt jeg tilbage i nogle af de samme mønstre, som jeg havde kæmpet med i Danmark. Jeg søgte kærligheden, men endte i dårlige forhold, og jeg tror, at det var hovedårsagen til, at jeg søgte ind i den spirituelle verden. Her har jeg gået på glødende kul for at lære at overvinde min frygt, og jeg har forsøgt at ændre på de tankemønstre, som jeg ubevidst lever efter. Det er gået op for mig, at man skal søge løsninger inde i én selv, og jeg tror, at vi som samfund ville have gavn af, at flere mennesker turde se indad i stedet for at skyde efter andre.

29 år / kvinde / enlig / psykologistuderende / Hillerød / fra Bosnien-Hercegovina / serbisk baggrund /kom til Danmark i 1992 / opholdstilladelse i 1995

I feel that I’m both 0% and 100% foreign, but nothing in between. I have adopted virtually all aspects of the Danish culture, but I still question the Danish understanding of gender equality. Not even Danish feminists appreciate the soft family-oriented values which are traditionally thought of as feminine. They want women to act as men, and I cannot see much equality in that. In Denmark, the Serbs were pointed out as the bad guys in connection with the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

The 9/11 attacks were condemned as a terrible act of terrorism, all while two years earlier the same people had celebrated NATO’s bombing of Serbia, where just as many lives were lost, as a declaration of justice. I found this hypocritical and wanted to get away, so when I finished high school, I moved to Serbia. The first years were alright, but bit by bit I fell back into the same patterns I had struggled with in Denmark. I was looking for love, but ended up in bad relationships, and I think that this was the main reason why I entered the spiritual world. In this world I have practised firewalking to try and overcome my fear, and I have tried to change the thought patterns that I unconsciously lived by. I have finally realised that you need to search for solutions inside yourself, and I think that our society would benefit from more people daring to look inwards rather than pointing the gun at others.

29 years / female / single / psychology student / Hillerød / from Bosnia-Herzegovina / Serbian background / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit in 1995


Hikmat Hussein Jeg er dansker med irakisk baggrund. Jeg har altid kæmpet for demokratiet, om det var i Irak hvor jeg kæmpede mod Saddams regering, eller i Danmark gennem min deltagelse i foreningsarbejde. Jeg arbejder som kulturformidler og har stiftet og været daglig leder af et kulturhus i Kokkedal. Jeg er lykkelig her og elsker at tage i Tivoli 2-3 gange om ugen, her er folk altid glade. Jeg drikker øl, spiser røde pølser og er blevet skilt. Tre ting der viser, at jeg er velintegreret. Jeg ved med sikkerhed, at jeg aldrig vil flytte tilbage til Irak. Selvom der står at jeg er muslim i mine papirer, er jeg ikke troende. Hvordan kan jeg tro på Gud efter at have oplevet så mange uretfærdigheder? Min mor sagde “der er Islam i Danmark men ikke i Irak, Iran eller Saudi Arabien”. Her har alle et sted at bo, det er gratis at gå i skole og til lægen, og så forsøger samfund dem der ikke har et arbejde.

Vi lever i et barmhjertig land med demokrati, og det skal vi værne om. I dag har vi over 150 moskeer på landsplan, og selvom alle godt ved, at det er her radikalisering starter, gør vi intet ved det. Jeg er bange for hvad der vil ske med samfundet, hvis ikke politikerne tager denne trussel seriøst nok. Alle skal have lov til at tro på det de ønsker, dem der har lyst til at bæger tørklæde skal have lov til det, de skal ikke diskrimineres imod, men de skal heller ikke behandles særligt.

60 år / mand / enlig / børn / København S / kultur- og sundhedsformidler / fra Irak / kom til Danmark i 1992 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I’m Danish with Iraqi background. I have always fought for democracy; in Iraq where I fought against the Saddam regime, or in Denmark through my participation in various associations. I work as disseminator of culture, and have even had the honour of founding and running a community centre in Kokkedal. I enjoy a beer, eat frankfurters, and I have gone through a divorce. Three things that go to prove I am well-integrated. I am certain that I will never move back to Iraq. Even though my papers say I’m Muslim, I’m not a religious man. How can I believe in a generous God after having experienced so much injustice? My mother said “there’s Islam in Denmark but not in Iraq, Iran or Saudi Arabia”. Everybody has a place to live here, it’s free to go to school and to the doctor, and the state supports those who don’t have a job.

We live in a humanitarian country with democracy, and we must cherish that. Today we have about 150 mosques across the country, and despite everyone knowing this is where fanaticism begins, we do nothing about it. I’m afraid of what will happen with the society if the politicians do not take this threat seriously. Everybody has the right to believe in what they want, those who want to wear a scarf, should be allowed to, they should not be discriminated against, but they should not be treated special either.

60 years / male / single / children / health and cultural mediator / Copenhagen S / from Iraq / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit same year


Nidal Mustafa Jeg er ikke dansk, men jeg er heller ikke iraker mere. Irak er et ødelagt land. Krig ødelægger folk. Min familie var kommunister. De var dannede og kulturelle, og de levede et godt liv. Men efter krigen har de mistet deres værdier og deres moral. Min familie er stadig i live, men det føles ikke længere som om, at de lever. Mit hjem burde ellers være der, hvor min familie er.

I am not Danish, but I am no longer Iraqi either. Iraq is a ravaged country. War destroys people. My family members were communists. They were educated and cultured and had a good life. But following the war, they lost all their belongings and also their morals. Even though my family is still alive, it doesn’t feel like it. My home should be where my family is.

Mit liv har været et eventyr fyldt med spænding og drama. Allerede som 17-årig var jeg en kendt skuespillerinde i Bagdad, og jeg elskede det. Men da Saddam kom til magten, ændrede alt sig, og jeg blev nødt til at flygte. Efter et par år i eksil vendte jeg tilbage for at kæmpe for mit land. Jeg boede fire år i bjergene i den nordlige del af Irak. Her levede vi under kummerlige vilkår uden rindende vand eller elektricitet. Men da jeg blev gravid, var det for farligt for mig at blive på grund af de kemiske bomber, Saddam smed i området. Jeg boede i tre forskellige lande, inden jeg kom til Danmark, og jeg har altid formået at arbejde inden for mit felt, men her i Danmark har det været svært. Der er meget store krav til sproget, og jeg er aldrig blevet god nok. Jeg har uddannet mig som frisør, kosmetolog og sosu-hjælper, men de mange år i bjergene var hårde for kroppen, og jeg har svært ved at arbejde. Jeg lider især af gigt, et resultat af de mange timer, vi tilbragte i de iskolde floder for at gemme os for militæret.

My life has been an adventure full of excitement and drama. Already when I was 17, I was a well-known actress in Baghdad, and I loved every minute of it. But everything changed when Saddam came to power, and I was forced to flee. After a couple of years in exile, I returned to fight for my country. For four years I lived in the mountains in the northern part of Iraq. We lived under very poor conditions, no running water or electricity. When I became pregnant it was too dangerous for me to stay due to Saddam bombing the area with chemical weapons. I have lived in three different countries before I came to Denmark, and I have always been able to work in my field of expertise, but here it is impossible. There are very strict demands as to the language, so I have had to train myself as hairdresser, beautician and health care assistant. The many years in the mountains have taken their toll on my body, so I find it problematic to work. I suffer in particular from arthritis as a direct result of the many hours we spent in ice-cold rivers hiding from the military.

Jeg prøver stadig at holde eventyret ved lige, men mit liv er ikke længere det samme. Jeg har ikke rigtigt noget at kæmpe for mere.

I still try to keep my adventure alive, but my life is no longer the same. I don’t have anything to fight for any more.

57 år / kvinde / enlig / børn / uddannet social- og sundhedsassistent / København S / fra Irak / kom til Danmark i 1992 / opholdstilladelse i 1994

57 years / female / single / children / trained health care assistant / Copenhagen S / from Iraq / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit in 1994


Laleh Yazdane Jeg har aldrig følt mig fremmed. Vi faldt meget hurtigt til her i Danmark, og jeg havde mange venner. De elskede at besøge os, fordi min mor var meget gæstfri, og fordi der altid var masser af mad til os. Og sådan var det ikke altid hos mine venner med en mere traditionel dansk opdragelse.

I have never felt foreign. We quickly settled down in Denmark and I have lots of friends. They loved visiting us because my mother was very hospitable, and we always had lots of food. It wasn’t always like that at my friends’ places, because they had had a more traditional Danish upbringing.

Jeg er alenemor, og min søns far er ikke en del af vores liv. Derfor ligger hele ansvaret på mine skuldre. Men jeg har et godt forbillede i min mor. Hun flygtede alene fra Iran med min bror og mig og blev både far og mor for os. Hun er en stærk og målbevidst kvinde, og på det punkt ligner vi meget hinanden.

I am a single mother, and my son’s father is no longer part of our lives, so all the responsibility rests on my shoulders. My mother was a good role model for me. She fled Iran with just my brother and me, so she became a mother and a father to us. She is a very strong and independent woman, so in that respect we resemble each other a lot.

Som ung havde jeg konstant et mål, jeg gik efter, men da jeg blev færdig med min uddannelse, blev jeg rastløs og savnede udfordringer. Jeg følte en udlængsel, og derfor besluttede jeg mig for at rejse ud i verden.

When I was young I always had goals to pursue, but when I completed my education, I became restless and needed some challenges. I also felt a wanderlust so I decided to travel the world.

Jeg var mange steder, bl.a. boede jeg seks måneder i New York, hvilket var en fantastisk tid, og endte på Zanzibar. Her brugte jeg et år af mit liv og havde arbejde og store planer om at starte min egen business. Men det er svært at slå igennem dér som kvinde. Til sidst blev det bare for meget, så jeg valgte at vende tilbage til Danmark. Nu arbejder jeg som socialpædagog. I mit arbejde hjælper jeg unge kriminelle med at finde den rette vej. Jeg elsker mit job, men jeg føler alligevel, at mange af projekterne ikke følger de unge til dørs. Man slipper dem for tidligt, og det ender ofte med, at de falder i igen. Det er synd for de unge og faktisk også spild af statens ressourcer.

I stayed many places on my journeys, including six months in New York, where I had a fantastic time. I ended up on Zanzibar, where I spent a year of my life. I worked and I had huge plans to start my own business. But as a woman it is hard to get a break through there, so in the end it all became too much, and I returned to Denmark. Now I am a social worker. I help young criminals find the right path. I love my job, but I feel that many social projects are unable to connect with the youth. They let go of them too early, often resulting in their reverting to their old ways. It is such a shame for the youngsters, and also a waste of public resources.

38 år / kvinde / enlig / barn / socialpædagog / København Ø / fra Iran / kom til Danmark i 1992 / opholdstilladelse samme år

38 years / female / single / child / social worker / Copenhagen Ø / from Iran / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit same year


Jung Feng Da jeg første gang vendte tilbage til Kina, kunne jeg ikke genkende min hjemby Shanghai. Alt havde ændret sig på de år, jeg havde været væk. Det eneste, jeg genkendte, var mit eget spejlbillede. Det var der, jeg fandt ud af, at Odense nok er min rigtige hjemby. Det var i Odense, at jeg voksede op. Så selvom mange danskere stadig tror, at jeg er turist, så føler jeg mig dansk.

The first time I returned to China I didn’t recognise Shanghai, my hometown. Everything had changed during the years I had been away. All I recognised was my own reflection. This was where I found out that Odense is my real hometown. I grew up in Odense. Even though many Danes think I am a tourist, I feel Danish.

Efter min mening er ytringsfriheden ukrænkelig, men det er æstetisk uskønt, når den bruges til at mobbe andre, som danskerne gjorde det under karikaturkrisen med Muhammedtegningerne. I stedet burde den bruges til at kritisere vores magtsystem og uligheden i samfundet.

In my opinion freedom of expression must be inviolable, but it is aesthetically repulsive when you use it to bully others, which is what I think the Danes did with the caricature crisis regarding the Muhammad drawings. Instead it should be used to criticise our system of power and the inequality we see in the society.

Grunden til, at jeg i tidernes morgen flygtede fra Kina, var, at jeg nægtede at lade mig undertrykke. Som undergrundsdigter brugte jeg mine digte til at sætte spørgsmålstegn ved de uretfærdigheder og samfundsstrukturer, der forhindrede folket i at udfolde sig frit. Her i Danmark bruger jeg mine teaterstykker til at udtrykke mine tanker og holdninger. Jeg synes faktisk, at kunst er en bedre måde at formidle kritik på end politik, hvor tonen ofte bliver meget grim. Jeg føler f.eks., at det er forkert at bruge vores ytringsfrihed som en slags undskyldning for at træde på andre. DFs politik gør mig ked af det, fordi den undergraver tolerancen og humanismen her i landet. Men de unge indvandreres kriminalitet gør mig også ked af det, fordi den viser samme mangel på tolerance og humanisme. Jeg synes, at DF og de unge kriminelle indvandrere forstærker hinanden. Det er en tragisk udvikling, og jeg frygter slutresultatet.

The reason why I fled China back in the days was because I refused to be oppressed. As an underground poet I used my poems to question the injustice and the societal structures that were used to deny the people the opportunity to express themselves freely. Here in Denmark I use my plays to express my thoughts and attitudes. I actually think that art is a better way to deliver criticism than politics that often carry an unpleasant tone. For example it is wrong to use freedom of speech as an excuse to step on others. The agenda of DF, the Danish People’s Party, makes me sad because it undermines the tolerance and humanism in the country, but so do the young immigrants’ crimes, because they show the same lack of tolerance and humanism. I think that DF and the young criminal immigrants reinforce each other. It is a tragic development and I fear for the end result.

52 år / mand / i et forhold / kunstner / København / fra Kina / kom til Danmark i 1992 / fik opholdstilladelse samme år

52 years / male / in a relationship / artist / Copenhagen / from China / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit same year


Salim Assi Grundloven beskytter min danskhed, og i det perspektiv er jeg 100% dansk, men om jeg føler mig sådan, det varierer. Når jeg hører Søren Espersen tale, falder procenten, mens den andre gange stiger. Jeg var på ferie i Libanon i 2006, da der udbrød krig. Med det samme fik vi sms’er fra det danske Udenrigsministerium med besked om, hvordan vi skulle forholde os. Jeg kan huske, at jeg tænkte: Wow, der findes et sted, der hedder Danmark, og der bekymrer man sig om mig. Da følte jeg mig meget taknemmelig og meget dansk.

The constitution protects my Danishness, and from that perspective I am 100% Danish. But in reality I feel that it varies. When I hear the voice of Søren Espersen the percentage drops, while at other times it increases. I was on holiday in Lebanon in 2006 when the war broke out. We immediately received text messages from the Danish Foreign Ministry, telling us how to deal with the situation. And I remember thinking, “Wow, there is a place called Denmark, and there they worry about me.” In that situation I felt very grateful and very Danish.

Jeg er ikke medlem af noget parti eller nogen forening, for jeg vil kunne vælge mine synspunkter frit. Gennem mine malerier kan jeg udtrykke mig uden at være bange, og det gør jeg, selvom det kan give problemer. Jeg har mistet jobs, fordi jeg står frem og udtrykker mig politisk, men jeg vil ikke gå på kompromis. De fleste af mine budskaber handler om palæstinensernes kamp for at få deres eget land. Jeg kan formentlig ikke ændre det store billede, men måske kan jeg gøre en lille forskel. Og hellere et stearinlys i mørket end at spytte på natten. Jeg lavede på et tidspunkt et vægmaleri, som jeg kaldte “Intifada 3”, men mange misforstod budskabet. De forstod ikke, at min kritik var møntet på zionister og ikke på jøder som sådan, så det blev en politisk sag, der endte med, at muren, som jeg havde malet på, blev revet ned.

I am not a member of any political party or association, because I want to speak my mind freely. Through my paintings I can express myself without feeling intimidated, and I do so, even though it can cause problems. I have indeed lost jobs because I stand up for myself and express myself politically, but I will not compromise. Mostly my artistic work and my messages are centered around the Palestinians’ struggle to get their own country. I probably can’t change the bigger picture, but perhaps I can make a tiny difference. And rather a candle in the dark than spitting into the night, as they say. I once did a mural which I called “Intifada 3”, but many people misunderstood the message. They failed to understand that my criticism was aimed at the Zionists and not at all Jews. So it ended up being a political matter, and the wall I had painted on was demolished.

I et demokrati kan man ikke sige til mig, at mit vægmaleri ikke må være politisk. Der er jo ytringsfrihed. Men man kan rive væggen ned, og det gjorde man.

In a democracy one cannot say that a mural is not allowed to be political, since there is freedom of speech. But you can pull down the wall, and they did exactly that.

42 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / selvstændig / Brøndby Strand / født i flygtningelejr i Libanon / palæstinensisk baggrund / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 1992

42 years / male / in a relationship / children / self-employed / Brøndby Strand / born in a Lebanese refugee camp / Palestinian background / came to Denmark via family reunification in 1992


Cong Hung Nguyen Jeg har ikke lyst til at rejse tilbage til mit hjemland, som så mange andre udlændinge taler om. Jeg er 50% fremmed, men kun fordi alle altid spørger mig, hvor jeg kommer fra.

I have no ambition of returning to my home country like a lot of other foreigners talk about. I am 50% foreign, but only because everybody keeps asking me where I come from.

Jeg er lidt bange for at blive gammel. Bange for at min kone og jeg vil føle os ensomme. Vi har kun én søn på 27, og han har endnu ikke stiftet familie. Han må selvfølgelig selv bestemme, men jeg synes altså, det er på tide, at han kommer i gang. Han har haft to danske kærester. Jeg tror bare ikke, at de var tålmodige nok til min søn. Asiatiske piger er mere tålmodige med deres mænd, og så er de ikke så skrappe. Jeg har rådet ham til at finde en kone, som ikke er alt for smuk, for så stresser man hele tiden over, om der en dag kommer en anden og hugger hende. Det er ikke nemt at finde en god kone.

I am afraid of growing old. Afraid that my wife and I are going to feel lonely. We have just one son, aged 27, and he has not yet started a family. It is completely up to him of course, but I do think it was high time he started. He has had two Danish girlfriends. I just don’t think they were patient enough for my son. Asian girls are more patient with their men, and they are not so strict. I have advised him to find a wife who is not too beautiful, to avoid the worrying and stressing if someone else might come and take her away one day. It is certainly not easy to find a good wife.

Jeg mødte min kone, da jeg skulle med båden fra Vietnam til Hong Kong. Hun var katolik, mens jeg er vokset op som ateist. Derfor måtte jeg gå på bibelskole i to år, før vi kunne gifte os. Hver dag sad vi og læste i Biblen. Det var dengang, jeg prøvede at imponere hende. Nu er jeg blevet for doven.

I met my wife on the boat from Vietnam to Hong Kong. She was catholic while I grew up an atheist. So I had to attend bible school for two years before we could marry. Every day we sat and read the Bible. That was in the days when I tried to impress her. Now I am too lazy.

Men jeg passer godt på hende. Kvinder er som blomster. De skal vandes hver dag, ellers fordærver de. Jeg ærgrer mig over, at vi ikke fik flere børn. Da vi boede i flygtningelejren i Hong Kong, fik mange af de vietnamesiske kvinder tilbudt et præventionsmiddel, der endte med at gøre dem sterile. Så vi måtte nøjes med ét barn. Han er er en dejlig dreng, og så er han flot. Han burde kunne finde sig en kone.

But I do look after her. Women are like flowers. They need watering every day, as otherwise they will shrivel. I really regret that we didn’t have more children. When we lived in the refugee camp in Hong Kong, many of the Vietnamese women were offered a birth control product which was later discovered to have left them infertile. So we had to make do with one child. He is a lovely boy, and he is also handsome. He should be able to find a wife.

54 år / mand / i et forhold / barn / København N / rengøringsassistent i Tivoli / fra Vietnam / kom til Danmark i 1992 / opholdstilladelse samme år

54 years / male / in a relationship / child / Copenhagen N / cleaner in Tivoli / from Vietnam / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit same year


Aira Kamic Om jeg føler mig fremmed kommer helt an på konteksten. Fremmedhed handler om at føle sig misforstået, og den følelse kan opstå alle steder.

Whether or not I feel foreign depends totally on the context. Foreignness is about feeling misunderstood, a feeling that can occur anywhere.

Kroppen fylder meget i mit liv. Jeg har altid danset og overvejede på et tidspunkt at gøre dansen til min karriere, men jeg droppede tanken, fordi jeg ikke havde lyst til at reducere min krop til et redskab. Som professionel danser ville min krop konstant være i konkurrence med andre kroppe. Der ville sjældent være rum til at have en doven dag eller til at drikke et glas rødvin. Jeg ville miste ejerskabet over min krop, og dansen ville miste sin karakter af frirum, og det havde jeg ikke lyst til.

The body is important in my life. I have always danced, and once I was contemplating trying to make dancing my career, but I dropped the idea because I did not want to reduce my body to a tool. As a professional dancer my body would constantly be competing with other bodies, and I would rarely be able to have a lazy day or drink a glass of red wine. I would lose ownership of my own body, and dancing would lose its character of being free space, and I did not want to risk this.

I den improviserede dans er der derimod ingen, som siger, hvad der er rigtigt eller forkert. Man er en krop i rummet, og det er enormt befriende at opleve i et samfund, hvor kroppen ellers er reduceret til et transportsystem for hjernen.

When dance is improvised, no-one can tell what is right or wrong. You are just a body in the room, and that is so liberating to experience in a society where the body has been reduced to a transport system for the brain.

Den syge krop kræver vores opmærksomhed, selvom den ikke fylder meget i medierne, men vi distancerer os fra den raske krop ved at udstille og optimere den, uden at vi giver os tid til at mærke den. Kroppen er blevet så seksualiseret. Den er et objekt, der altid tillægges en betydning, en mening, en funktion. Kroppen er enten en rigtig eller en forkert krop, men aldrig bare en krop. Vi er blevet dårlige til at være nøgne, og det er trist, for nøgenhed er så naturligt som noget. Hvis man er bange for sin egen krop, hvordan skal man så kunne rumme andres kroppe? Hvis man kunne acceptere forskellige kroppe, ville man måske også bedre kunne acceptere forskellighed i bred forstand.

29 år / kvinde / i et forhold / læge / København/Thy / fra BosnienHercegovina / kom til Danmark i 1993 / opholdstilladelse i 1997

The sick body needs our attention, even though it’s not mentioned a lot in the media, but we distance ourselves from the healthy body by exposing and optimizing it without taking time to feel it. The body has become so sexualized. It has become an object which is always given a meaning, a function. The body is either a right or a wrong body, but never allowed just to be a body. We have become poor at being naked, and that is sad, because nakedness is so natural. If you are afraid of your own body, then how can you relate to or embrace the bodies of others? Perhaps, if you were able to accept different bodies, you would also be better at accepting diversity in the broadest sense.

29 years / female / in a relationship / medical doctor / Copenhagen/ Thy / from Bosnia and Herzegovina / came to Denmark in 1993 / residence permit in 1997


Nawras Al-Hashimi Jeg føler mig fremmed, fordi jeg ikke har nogen stærk tilknytning til et bestemt sted, men samtidig kan jeg godt føle mig hjemme, fordi jeg har valgt at acceptere min egen fremmedhed. Det at være søgende i livet er på en måde at vælge fremmedheden.

I feel foreign because I don’t have a strong attachment to any particular place, but at the same time I can feel at home because I have decided to acknowledge my own foreignness. Being on a journey or quest in life is somehow like opting to be foreign.

Mange af de fællesskaber, som vi mennesker indgår i, pådutter os idealer for, hvordan vi skal være og agere. Jeg er imod den slags fællesskaber og søger hellere efter fællesskaber, der giver plads til, at jeg kan være mig selv. Mine forældre forventede, at jeg skulle gå den arabiske kultur i møde, da jeg var ung, men jeg sagde, at jeg ikke kunne tage en kultur til mig, som jeg ikke kendte. Det var en slags ungdomsoprør, men jeg står stadig ved det. Jeg har opgivet min kulturelle identitet som araber og som mand for at komme tæt på det essentielle i mig. Identiteter er sociale konstruktioner. De er lænker, der binder folk til bestemte måder at være på, og derfor skal de afskaffes.

Many of the communities we become part of impose standard ideals of how we should be and act. I oppose those kinds of communities, and I consciously look for communities which give one space to be oneself. My parents expected me to embrace the Arabic culture when I was young, but I said that I couldn’t act upon a culture I knew nothing about. It was a sort of teenage rebellion, but I have stuck by this ever since. I have abandoned my cultural identity as an Arab and as male in order to get closer to the essential and the existential within myself. Identities are social constructions. They are chains tying you in certain ways of being and they must be abolished.

Jeg bor i et spirituelt kollektiv, hvor vi gennem bl.a. meditation og terapi healer og støtter hinanden i at finde og acceptere os selv som de mennesker, vi hver især er, befriet fra kulturelt betingede identitetslag såsom køn og etnicitet. Det at være spirituelt søgende er at bryde ud af de kæder, man får påduttet af samfundet. Det handler om at finde tilbage til noget af det, der karakteriserer barndommen. Børn er født uskyldige, men mister deres uskyld, når de vokser op. En del af min søgen går ud på at genfinde uskylden.

37 år / mand / enlig / pædagog / Brædstrup/København S / fra Irak / kom til Danmark i 1993 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I live in a spiritual commune, where, through meditation and therapy practice, we heal and support one another to help us find and accept ourselves as we are, freed from culturally based identities such as gender and ethnicity. To be a spiritual seeker is like breaking out of the chains that you get burdened with by the society. One can say that it is about returning to something which characterises childhood. Children are born innocent, but lose their innocence when they grow up. Part of my quest is to find this state of innocence again.

37 years / male / single / pedagogue / Brædstrup/Copenhagen S / from Iraq / came to Denmark in 1993 / residence permit same year


Ashot Abrahamian eg er 100% dansker og 100% armenier. Jeg har boet i Danmark ligeså længe, som jeg har boet i Armenien, og begge lande er tæt på mit hjerte. Derfor kan jeg ikke være ligeglad med, hvad der sker herhjemme, især med flygtninge. På trods af, at vi selv er flygtninge, frygter vi lidt den nuværende situation. Flygtningestrømmen til de europæiske lande har skabt en del problemer og Danmark står nu i dilemma: Skal vi udvise eller hjælpe dem, der kommer hertil? Vi tilhører den ældste kristne befolkning og har en stolt armensk tradition med Bibelske rødder. Når der kommer uventede gæster, har vi altid ekstra mad i huset. Familien er meget vigtig for os. Min svigermor boede hos os, indtil hun gik bort. Vi havde hende altid med alle steder. Nu er det kun mig og min kone herhjemme.

I see myself as 100% Armenian and 100% Danish. I’ve lived in Denmark for as long as I lived in Armenia, and both countries are close to me. That is why I cannot be indifferent about what is happening in Denmark at the moment, particularly when it comes to refugees. Despite the fact that we ourselves are refugees, the current situation worries us. The stream of refugees entering the European countries has created several problems. Denmark finds itself in a bind - should we reject or help those who come here? We belong to the oldest Christian population and we have a proud Armenian heritage with biblical roots. When unannounced guests arrive, we always have extra food in the house. Family is extremely important to us. My wife’s mother lived with us until she passed away. Now it is only my wife and I.

Vi har kæmpet hele vores liv for at få børn, men uden held. Børn er hele meningen med livet ifølge vores tradition. Man gør alt for dem, for at de kan føle sig lykkelige. Det er derfor, man står op og går på arbejde, skaber sig et hjem.

We have struggled all our lives to have children, but without success. For an Armenian, children are the whole meaning of life. That is why we get up in the morning and go to work, and why we build a home.

Min kone har etableret den dansk-armenske forening, der varetager børnenes tarv i Armenien. Det er vores børn nu. Vi føler glæde, når vi ser børnenes lykkelige ansigter. Hvert år tager foreningen på pilgrimsrejse til Gylling for at minde Karen Jeppe, en dansk kvinde, som viede sit liv til at hjælpe det armenske folk. Hun reddede bl.a. 2000 kvinder og børn fra de muslimske haremmer i Tyrkiet efter det armenske folkedrab. Hun oprettede et børnehjem i Aleppo, som hed “Fuglerede”. Karen Jeppe blev mindet som “armeniernes mor”

My wife has established the Danish-Armenian Association, which takes care of children in Armenia. They are our children now. We feel joy when we look at their happy faces. Every year the association goes on a pilgrimage from Copenhagen to Gylling to pay homage to Karen Jeppe, a Danish woman, who dedicated her life to helping the Armenian people. She rescued 2000 women and children from the Muslim harems in Aleppo after the Armenian Genocide. Later she opened an orphanage in Aleppo called the “Birds nest”. Karen Jeppe are commemorated as “the Armenian Mother”

57 år / mand / i et forhold / uddannet smed / København NV / fra Armenien / kom til Danmark i 1994 / opholdstilladelse i 1995

57 years / male / in a relationship / trained blacksmith / Copenhagen NV / from Armenia / came to Denmark in 1994 / residence permit in 1995


Dzevad Ramić Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed. Diskussioner om integration er ofte paradoksale, for hvad er det, man skal integreres i, og hvad vil det sige at være dansk? Jeg har oplevet ét Danmark på landet i Jylland og et andet i København. Danmark er lige som danskhed en mangfoldig størrelse.

I don’t feel foreign. Discussions about integration are often inconsistent, because what are you supposed to be integrated into, and what does it mean to be Danish? I have experienced one Denmark in the Jutland countryside and another Denmark in Copenhagen. Just like Denmark, Danishness is a diverse and complex mass.

Da jeg var 15, så jeg min far blive banket af en flok serbiske soldater, og jeg besluttede at gå i krig. De følgende år levede jeg med krigen på nærmeste hold og med en bevidsthed om, at livet kunne slutte når som helst, så da en læge, efter jeg var blevet skudt i armen, undersøgte mig og konstaterede, at jeg havde kræft og kun havde en måned tilbage af mit liv, rørte det mig ikke. Jeg havde vænnet mig til tanken om døden, og livet havde ikke længere værdi. Jeg overvejede at tage tilbage og bruge min sidste tid på at kæmpe, men søgte alligevel om behandling i udlandet og endte i Danmark. To år senere fortalte en læge på Rigshospitalet mig, at jeg var rask, og jeg tog en ny beslutning.

When I was 15 I saw my dad being beaten up by a group of Serbian soldiers, and I decided to go to war. The following years I lived with war very close by and with an awareness that life could end any time. After having been shot in my arm, the doctor who examined me diagnosed me with cancer with only a month to live, but it didn’t touch me. I had become used to the notion of death, and life had no longer any value. I thought about returning and spending the rest of my life fighting. But at the same time I tried to try find treatment abroad, and I finally ended up in Denmark. Two years later a doctor at the University Hospital in Copenhagen announced that I had recovered and I took another decision.

Jeg ville give noget tilbage. Nogen havde givet mig en chance. Det var ikke Allah, og det var ikke Jesus. Det var Rigshospitalet. Det var det danske velfærdssamfund.

I would give something in return. Someone had given me a chance. It wasn’t Allah and it wasn’t Jesus. It was the University Hospital. It was the Danish welfare society.

Jeg vil hellere betale en høj skat end at have råd til en fed bil, for jeg tror på fællesskabet, den danske model og velfærdssamfundet. Desværre udvikler samfundet sig i en mindre solidarisk retning, hvor de svageste får skylden for alle samfundets problemer.

I will rather pay high taxes than being able to afford a fancy car, because I believe in the community, the Danish model, and the welfare society. Unfortunately society seems to develop in a direction with less solidarity, and the most vulnerable are blamed for all the problems in our society.

40 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / faglig sekretær / København S / fra Bosnien-Hercegovina / kom til Danmark i 1994 / opholdstilladelse i 1997

40 years / male / in a relationship / children / union secretary / Copenhagen S / from Bosnia-Hercegovina / came to Denmark in 1994 / residence permit in 1997


Muamer Sultić Jeg har taget det bedste fra begge kulturer og har det godt i både danske og bosniske miljøer. Flygtningedebatten i øjeblikket berører mig. Beslutningstagerne glemmer, at mange flygtninge lider af posttraumatisk stress og har svært ved at klare en almindelig hverdag med job, uanset hvor gerne de ville. Det problem løser man ikke ved at skære i deres ydelser eller ved hele tiden at fremstille dem negativt i medierne.

I have taken the best from both cultures, and I feel comfortable in both Danish and Bosnian environments. The current refugee debate does concern me. The policy makers seem to forget that many refugees suffer from posttraumatic stress and find it difficult to cope with normal everyday life and a job, however much they would like to. This a problem which is not solved by cutting their benefits or constantly portraying them negatively in the media.

Da jeg som 10-årig boede på asylcenter, fik personalet mig i gang med at dyrke handicapsport, og det har jeg gjort siden. Jeg har set verden med bordtennislandsholdet og følt mig som en del af et stort fællesskab. Gennem sporten er jeg blevet klogere på, hvad der er muligt for mig fysisk, og jeg har lært at kæmpe både på og uden for bordtennisbanen.

When I was 10 years old, I lived in an asylum centre. They got me started on sport for disabled, and I have done that ever since. I have travelled the world with the national table tennis team and felt part of a great community. Through the sports I have found out what is possible for me physically, and I have learned how to fight on and outside the ping pong table.

Under krigen i Bosnien blev jeg ramt af en granatsplint, mens jeg var ude at lege. Den satte sig fast i min ryg og er årsag til, at jeg i dag sidder i kørestol. Da jeg var teenager, gik det op for mig, at jeg måske ikke kommer til at gå igen.

During the war in Bosnia, I was hit in the back by a piece of shrapnel, which is the reason I am now confined to a wheelchair. When I was a teenager, it dawned on me that I might never walk again.

Jeg frygtede, at jeg aldrig ville få en kæreste, en familie eller et job. Men bekymringerne holdt gradvist op i takt med, at jeg overkom den første fest, den første scoring, den første date, osv. I dag har jeg job og familie, så selvom kørestolen begrænser mig i nogle henseender, afholder den mig ikke fra at opnå og opleve, hvad jeg betragter som de væsentligste ting i livet.

32 år / mand / i et forhold / barn / lønkonsulent / København N / fra Bosnien-Hercegovina / kom til Danmark i 1994 / opholdstilladelse i 1997

I feared that I would never get a girlfriend, a family, or a job. But the worries gradually stopped as I coped with the first party, the first date, etc. Today I have a job and a family, so even though the wheelchair limits me in some respects, it doesn’t stop me from achieving and experiencing what I consider the most important things in life.

32 years / male / in a relationship / child / wage consultant / Copenhagen N / from Bosnia and Herzegovina / came to Denmark in 1994 / residence permit 1997


Selma Mesic Fremmedhed er noget eksistentielt, der handler mere om, hvor du er mentalt, end om hvor du er geografisk. Jeg er københavner med en stor kærlighed til min by, men jeg ved ikke, om jeg er dansker. Jeg identificerer mig ikke med en bestemt nation. Måske skyldes det, at jeg flygtede fra en krig, der i høj grad skyldtes nationalisme. Da jeg kom til Danmark, gjorde de mange flagstænger i kolonihaverne på Amager mig forskrækket. Hvorfor alle de flag? Kendte folk ikke nationalismens fare?

Foreignness is something existential and more about your mentality than about where you are geographically. I am a Copenhagener and I love my city, but I don’t know if I am Danish. I don’t identify myself with a particular nation. Maybe this is because I fled from a war, which to a large extent was started due to nationalism. When I arrived in Denmark, all the flagpoles and flags in the allotment gardens in Amager frightened me. Why all these flags, I thought? Didn’t people know the dangers of nationalism?

Min første erindring om krig stammer fra min skoletid, hvor en ny pige, som var flygtet fra krigen i Kroatien, begyndte i min klasse. Det gjorde stort indtryk på mig, at hun ikke længere havde et hjem eller et eget værelse. Jeg talte med min far, som sagde, at det jo var godt, at hun i det mindste havde sin familie hos sig. Alt andet kunne erstattes. Kort tid efter, da krigen kom til Bosnien, mistede jeg min far, og jeg opdagede, at han havde haft ret. Ting kan erstattes, men ikke mennesker. I flere år havde jeg en enorm vrede og sorg i mig, som blokerede for mit ordforråd.

My first memory of war comes from my school, when a new girl started in my class. She had fled the war in Croatia. This made a big impression on me, that she no longer had a home, let alone her own room. I talked with my father about it, and he said that at least it was nice for her to have her family around her. Everything else could be replaced in due time. Shortly after the war started in Bosnia, I lost my father, and I discovered that he had been right. Things can be replaced, but people can’t. For several years I had such a massive feeling of sorrow and aggression building up inside me that it blocked my vocabulary.

Jeg kunne ikke tale om mine følelser, og jeg kunne ikke sige, at min far var død. Men man bliver nødt til at lære at sige ordet. Døden er og skal være en del af sorgprocessen, for den bliver ikke mindre nærværende af, at man fortier den. At miste mennesker, man elsker og holder af, er smertefuldt. Og det er nok derfor, vi aldrig får et naturligt forhold til døden. Sorgen bliver mindre med tiden, men ikke savnet.

37 år / kvinde / i et forhold / folkeskolelærer / København S / fra Bosnien-Hercegovina / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 1994

I was unable to express my feelings, and I simply couldn’t utter the words that my father was dead. But you must learn to say the word. Death is and should be a part of the grieving process, because it doesn’t become less present by not talking about it. It is painful to lose a person you care about, and that is probably why we will never have a natural relationship to death. In time grief lessens, but the loss doesn’t.

37 / female / in a relationship / Copenhagen S / school teacher / from Bosnia-Herzegovina / came to Denmark via family reunification in 1994


Gerard Niyongabo Jeg er 62% fremmed, selvom jeg har været i Danmark i over 20 år. Det er også sådan, de fleste opfatter mig, men mine børn er 100% danske. Jeg drømmer om at tage tilbage til Burundi en dag og bruge det, jeg har lært i Danmark om at tænke kollektivt frem for individuelt. Jeg føler et stort ansvar over for dem, der blev tilbage. At blive her hele livet ville være et svigt. Jeg er vokset op i et samfund, hvor manden er en naturlig autoritet i familien, fordi det er ham, der tjener pengene. Men jeg har fået børn i et land, hvor den autoritet udfordres af børnepenge og kvinder på arbejdsmarkedet. Når manden ikke er eneforsørger i familien, ændrer kønsrollerne sig.

Min kone går på arbejde, og vi deler det huslige arbejde, så jeg skal være mand på en helt anden måde, end min far var det. Det kan godt være svært, for visse traditioner og forestillinger sidder dybt i én. Det danske system, hvor kommunen nærmest ejer børnene, udfordrer også forholdet mellem forældre og børn. I stedet for at støtte forældre i at være gode forældre fokuserer kommunen udelukkende på børnene. Man overser forældregenerationen, hvis autoritet i forvejen er svækket, fordi børnene lynhurtigt bliver bedre til dansk end deres forældre. Det går ud over familien, som ellers burde være kernen i samfundet.

49 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / økonomimedarbejder / Tingbjerg / fra Burundi / kom til Danmark i 1995 / opholdstilladelse i 1997

Despite having been in Denmark for more than two decades, I am still 62% foreign. That is also how most people see me, but my children are 100% Danish. I often dream about being able to return to Burundi one day and then use what I have learned in Denmark about thinking collectively rather than individually. I feel a great responsibility for the people who were left behind in Burundi, so staying here for the rest of my life would be to let them down. I grew up in a society where men have a natural authority in the families because they earn the money, but I have children in a country where both the child benefit system and a female orientated labour market challenge this authority. The gender roles in the family change when the man is no longer the sole earner.

My wife goes to work, and we share the housework, so I am forced to be a man in a very different way to my father. This can be challenging, because certain traditions and perceptions are still deeply rooted in you. The Danish system, where the municipality practically own the children, also challenges the close relationship between parents and their children. Instead of primarily supporting the parents to be good parents, the municipality focuses only on the children, thus overlooking the generation of parents, whose authority is already weakened, because the children become better Danish speakers than their parents. This has consequences for the family, which should otherwise be the core of society.

49 years / male / in a relationship / children / financial officer / Tingbjerg / from Burundi / came to Denmark in 1995 / residence permit in 1997


Hassan Sultan Hajem På en måde kan man sige, at mit liv først rigtigt startede, da jeg kom til Danmark. Det er her, jeg har fået min uddannelse som ITsupporter, hvilket altid har været min drøm. Jeg mødte min kone på DTU, og sammen har vi skabt en dejlig familie og et hjem. Hvis jeg havde chancen for at vælge igen, ville jeg altid vælge Danmark.

In a way one could say that my life didn’t start until I arrived in Denmark. This is where I trained as an IT support technician, a dream I had always had. I met my wife at the Technical University of Denmark, and together we have created a lovely home and family. If I had the chance to choose again, I would still choose Denmark.

Familie betyder alt for mig. Jeg har tre skønne døtre, som jeg bruger det meste af min fritid sammen med. Min kone og jeg taler meget med vores piger. Sammen har vi skabt nogle værdier, der giver dem mulighed for at være fornuftige mennesker. Vi støtter deres hobbyer og har både en badmintonspiller, en tegner og en læsehest i familien.

My family means everything to me. I have three beautiful daughters and I spend most of my spare time with them. My wife and I talk with our girls a lot. Together we have created some values which give them the opportunity to become sensible individuals. We support and encourage their hobbies. We now have an avid tennis player, one who likes drawing and a bookworm in the family.

Mange forældre tror ikke, at deres børn forstår, at det er sundere for dem at dyrke deres interesser, end det er at gå ud og lege voksen hver weekend. Her er kommunikation altafgørende. Det er vigtigt, at man giver sig tid til at lytte til sine børn og tale med dem om disse ting. Og så skal man selvfølgelig også være et godt forbillede for dem. Jeg har formået at tage en god uddannelse, jeg har arbejdet som selvstændig i 11 år, rejst og hygget med min familie, og så har jeg brugt meget af min fritid på frivilligt arbejde, hvor jeg fx har talt stemmesedler og hjulpet til under Kulturnatten.

42 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / freelance it-supporter og webdesigner / København NV / fra Irak / kom til Danmark i 1995 / opholdstilladelse i 1996

Many parents do not think their children understand that it is healthier for them to develop and focus on their interests rather than going out every weekend trying to pose as adults. Communication is paramount. It is important to take the time to listen to your children and talk with them about these issues. And of course you must also be a good role model for them. I have managed to get a good education, I have been self-employed for 11 years, travelled and had a nice time with my family, and I use a lot of my spare time with voluntary work like counting ballots and helping out during the Kulturnat festival.

42 year / male / in a relationship / children / freelance IT-supporter and web-designer / Copenhagen NV / from Iraq / came to Denmark in 1995 / residence permit in 1996


Guy Leonce Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed. I aviserne kan man læse jokes om Nørrebro som ”2200, det sorte hul”, men for mig er det et rart sted, hvor danskere og udlændinge mødes, og der opstår noget nyt i sproget: syntaksfejl, fremmede ord og engelske udtryk, som alle forstår.

I don’t feel foreign at all. Newspapers portray Nørrebro jokingly as the “black hole”, but for me it is a nice place, where Danes and foreigners meet, and where something new emerges. A flawed language adorned with English expressions that everyone understands.

I 1938 gav belgierne identitetskort til den rwandiske befolkning. Identitetskortene inddelte befolkningen efter etnisk tilhørsforhold og har efterfølgende spillet en stor rolle i magtspillet mellem de to store etniske grupper, hutuer og tutsier. Borgerkrigen startede i 1994. Min mor havde mistet sin far tilbage i 1972 i Burundi til en gruppe ekstremistiske tutsier, og da borgerkrigen brød ud i Rwanda, mistede hun sin tutsi-mor og sine søskende, og vi flygtede. Jeg var 10 år og kunne ikke forstå, hvad krigen drejede sig om. Hvilken betydning havde det, om man var hutu eller tutsi. Var alle mennesker ikke ens?

From 1938, citizens of Rwanda were issued Belgian identity cards. These cards stated the ethnicity of all citizens and this has played a major role in the power struggle between the two main ethnic groups, hutus and tutsis. The civil war began in Rwanda in 1994. In 1972 my mother’s father was killed by extremist Tutsis in Burundi. When the civil war broke out she lost her Tutsi mother and siblings, and then we fled. I was just ten and could not understand what the war was really about. Did it matter if one was Tutsi or Hutu? Wasn’t everyone the same?

Jeg vidste ikke, at der fandtes ekstremister, uvidende folk og racister fra begge sider. Det ved jeg nu, men jeg insisterer stadig på, at vi mennesker først og fremmest er mennesker, og jeg vil hverken definere mig selv eller andre ud fra en bestemt etnicitet.

I didn’t realise that there are ignorant people and extremists on both sides. I do now, but I still insist that people first and foremost are human beings, and I would not define myself or others by their particular ethnicity

Jeg tror, at oplysning, viden og uddannelse er nødvendig, hvis man vil forhindre, at noget lignende sker igen. Folkemord er ikke en del af rwandisk kultur, men det skete på grund af de sociale og politiske omstændigheder i landet. Der har ikke været forsoning i Rwanda sådan som i f.eks. Sydafrika, og derfor interesserer det mig ikke at komme tilbage.

32 år / mand / enlig / tolk / Dragør / fra Rwanda / kom til Danmark i 1996 / opholdstilladelse i 1997

I believe that education and information are necessary if one wants to prevent something similar from happening again. Genocide is not a part of Rwandan culture, but it all happened because of the social and political circumstances in the country. There has been no reconciliation in Rwanda, unlike for example in South Africa, so I am not interested at all in returning.

32 years / male / single / interpreter / Dragør / from Rwanda / came to Denmark in 1996 / residence permit in 1997


Hussein Hirey Hvorfor skulle jeg føle mig fremmed i Danmark, hvor jeg har boet i 20 år? Jeg føler mig hjemme, men er naturligvis præget af mine erfaringer fra Somalia. Da jeg var barn, kom omskæringsmanden forbi nogle gange om året. Kvarterets drenge blev samlet og omskåret én efter én. Det gjorde virkelig ondt, men jeg har ikke taget skade, så jeg har svært ved at forstå, hvorfor omskæring på hospitaler i Danmark skulle være et problem.

I have lived here for 20 years, so why should I feel foreign in Denmark? I feel at home here, but obviously I am formed by my past experiences in Somalia. When I was a child, the circumcision man came by a couple of times a year. All the boys in the neighbourhood were rounded up and circumcised one by one. It really hurt, but other than that I was undamaged, so I find it hard to understand why circumcision at Danish hospitals should pose a problem.

I de muslimske miljøer er man først voksen, når man bliver gift. Jeg blev gift som 36-årig, så i den optik blev jeg først voksen for et år siden. Sådan er det selvfølgelig ikke. Jeg flyttede hjemmefra i 2001 og har klaret mig selv siden, men jeg har været lang tid om at få retning på min tilværelse.

In the Muslim communities you are not considered an adult until you become married. I was married at 36, so from that perspective I didn’t reach adulthood until about a year ago. But of course it is not like that. I moved away from home in 2001 and have managed on my own ever since, but it has taken a long time for me to get my life sorted and back on track.

Mit liv har budt på masser af fest og få bekymringer om fremtiden, men efter et trafikuheld blev jeg ramt af en slem depression. Jeg tabte næsten 10 kg og mistede mange venner. Folk kan lide én, når man er ung og smuk og har overskud til at ringe, men ikke nødvendigvis, når man er nede. Nu er jeg ude på den anden side, og det er jeg taknemmelig for. Med alderen er jeg blevet mere konservativ. Jeg sætter pris på besindighed og stabilitet og forsøger ikke at være hovmodig. Jeg arbejder som lærer i en modtageklasse for flygtningebørn, hvor jeg forsøger at rådgive eleverne til at blive målrettede og ikke køre så meget zigzag, som jeg selv har gjort. Min kone er gravid, og intet er vigtigere for mig end at kunne give vores datter en tryg og stabil barndom.

37 år / mand / i forhold / barn / BA i informationsvidenskab, lærer i modtageklasse / Rødovre / fra Somalia / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 1996

My life has been full of partying and few worries about the future, but after a traffic accident, I was hit by a severe depression. I lost almost ten kilos and many friends. People like you when you are young and beautiful and have the energy to phone and chat, but not necessarily when you are down. I have now come out on the other side, and I am grateful for that. As I have grown older, I have become more conservative. I appreciate the calm and stability, and I try not to be arrogant. I work as a teacher in a reception class for refugee children, where I try to advise the pupils to become focused and not run around aimlessly like I did. My wife is pregnant, and nothing is more important to me now than being able to provide a safe and stable childhood for our daughter.

37 years / male / in a relationship / child / teacher in reception class / Rødovre / from Somalia / came to Denmark via family reunification in 1996


Muhibo Abdirashid Muhudin Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed. Som alle andre møder jeg nye mennesker, og når jeg lærer dem at kende, holder vi op med at være fremmede over for hinanden. Jeg har ikke søgt statsborgerskab i Danmark, for jeg betragter mig selv som verdensborger. Nationalitet er ligesom hudfarve og religion en kategori, der har til formål at dele mennesker op i forskellige grupper. De eneste, som vinder på det, er de, der har magt, og jeg vil ikke være en brik i deres spil.

I don’t feel foreign. Like everyone else I meet new people, and when I get to know them, we cease to be strangers to one another. I haven’t applied for citizenship in Denmark, because I consider myself a citizen of the world. Nationality is a category like skin colour and religion, aiming to split people up into different groups. The only ones who have anything to gain from that are the people in power, and I do not want to be a pawn in their game.

Da jeg gik i folkeskole, faldt jeg for hiphoppen. Jeg dykkede ned i teksterne og fik dem til at handle om mig selv og mit liv. Senere begyndte jeg at skrive. At få tankerne ned på papir er som at se sig selv i spejlet. Det kan være svært at vide, hvor det gør ondt, men når jeg skriver, får jeg klarhed. I min familie er der mange, som ikke forstår mig. Jeg passer ikke ind nogen steder og har altid sat en ære i at gå mine egne veje. Mange har svært ved at forstå, at jeg ikke har stiftet familie, men jeg har ikke travlt.

When I went to school, I got hooked on hip hop. I explored the lyrics and changed them so as to tell about me and my life. Later I began to write lyrics myself. To capture my thoughts on paper was like seeing myself in the mirror. It is sometimes hard to know where it hurts, but when I write it all becomes clear to me. A lot of people in my family don’t understand me. I don’t fit in anywhere, and I have always taken pride in going my own way. People can’t understand why I haven’t started my own family, but I am not in a hurry.

Jeg har ikke set min mor, siden jeg forlod Somalia, men vi ringer sammen, og jeg sender penge. Jeg var sammen med hende i den sværeste tid af hendes liv under krigen. Fra Danmark kan jeg give hende noget tilbage, og det gør mig glad.

I haven’t seen my mother since I left Somalia, but we talk on the phone, and I send her money. I was with her during the most difficult time of her life, the war. From Denmark I can give something back to her, and that makes me happy.

Jeg vil selvfølgelig gerne se hende, men jeg er bange for at tage tilbage. Hvis der sker mig noget, bliver hun alene igen. Måske skal jeg selv have børn, måske skal jeg ikke. Måske skal jeg åbne et børnehjem i stedet. Folk siger til mig, at man ikke kan elske et barn, som ikke er ens eget, men selvfølgelig kan man det.

I would love to see her again of course, but I am scared to return. If something happens to me, she will be on her own again. Maybe I will have children one day, maybe not. Perhaps I should open an orphanage instead. People tell me that you cannot love a child which is not your own, but of course you can.

31 år / kvinde / enlig / HF-studerende / Gentofte / fra Somalia / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 1996

31 years / female / single / HF student / Gentofte / from Somalia / came to Denmark via family reunification in 1996


Soorat Jamshidi Jeg boede de første 11 år af mit liv i en flygtningelejr uden at vide, at det var en flygtningelejr. Det fandt jeg først ud af, da jeg kom til Danmark. Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed. Jeg bidrager til og føler samme ansvar for samfundet som folk, der er født her, og jeg bliver lige så skræmt ved tanken om terror som alle andre.

I spent the first 11 years of my life in a refugee camp without even knowing it was one. I didn’t find out until I came to Denmark. I don’t feel foreign. I contribute to society and I feel the same responsibility to the society as people who were born here, and the thought of terror frightens me as much as it frightens everyone else.

I gymnasiet skændtes jeg tit med min dansklærer, som sagde, at mine karakterer ikke kunne blive højere, fordi mit dansk ikke var bedre.

In high school I often had arguments with my Danish teacher, who said that my grades would not get any higher as long as my Danish wasn’t any better.

Så da en kvinde fra Jehovas Vidner bankede på vores dør, greb jeg chancen. Jeg sagde, at jeg ville læse hendes blad, hvis hun ville hjælpe mig med mine lektier. Hver søndag fra midt i 2.G og indtil jeg blev student, mødtes vi, og gradvist blev mine karakterer bedre. Det viste mig, at der er muligheder alle vegne, og den erfaring vil jeg gerne give videre til andre. Gennem mit arbejde møder jeg mange mennesker, som lever isoleret og står uden for samfundet. De bliver sendt fra den ene sagsbehandler til den anden og kan ikke finde rundt i systemet, og så er der mange, som giver op. Det er et strukturelt problem, og samfundet bærer et stort ansvar, men systemet kan ikke løse problemet alene. Folk skal selv lette røven og gøre en indsats. Jeg drømmer om at tage en terapeutuddannelse og åbne min egen klinik, hvor jeg kan hjælpe folk med at få øje på de muligheder, der findes lige for næsen af dem - og gribe dem.

32 år / kvinde / i et forhold / barn / cand.mag / konsulent / Frederiksberg / født i flygtningelejr i Irak / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark som kvoteflygtning i 1996

Then one day a woman from Jehova’s Witnesses knocked on our door, and I grabbed the chance. I said that I would read her magazine if she would help me with my homework. So every Sunday from second year of high school and until I graduated we met, and gradually my grades improved. This experience showed me that there are opportunities everywhere and I want to pass this on to others. Through my work I meet many people who live isolated and are cut off from society. They are passed from one case worker to another, and they can’t negotiate their way in the system, so a lot of them give up. It is a structural problem, and society carries a big responsibility, but the system can’t solve the problem on its own. People should make an effort themselves. My ambition is to study to be a therapist and open my own clinic, where I can help people spot and seize the opportunities which are available right under their very noses.

32 years / female / in a relationship / child / M.Sc. / consultant / Frederiksberg /born in a refugee camp in Iraq / Kurdish background / came to Denmark as a quota refugee in 1996


Mohamud Mohamed Omar Jeg er dansk statsborger, men jeg er ikke dansker. Det betyder ikke, at jeg føler mig fremmed, eller at jeg er utilfreds med Danmark. Jeg har bare ikke behov for at skulle være dansker. Og er det ikke også lige meget, om man føler sig dansk, hvis man føler sig hjemme og tager del i samfundet? I Vesten har vi alt for meget af alt det, vi ikke behøver. Tiger-kæden og Black Friday er perfekte billeder på overflodssamfundet. Butikker fulde af ting, som ingen har brug for, og folk, der står i lange køer for at købe ting, de ikke behøver. Vesten er virkelig god til rettigheder og ligestilling og alt sådan noget, men folk er ikke altid gode til at mødes som mennesker og tale sammen. Der er et stort overskud i Vesten, så mange mennesker kan bruge lang tid på at kigge ind i sig selv, og så er det måske ikke så mærkeligt, at så mange lider af depressioner. Hvis jeg kigger indad længe nok, skal jeg også nok finde noget at være utilfreds med. Folk søgte også efter sig selv i 60’erne, men det var mere legitimt dengang, for deres søgen indad var samtidig en afvisning af noget ydre. Mange sagde nej til at være en del af systemet.

I dag har selvrealiseringen mistet det samfundskritiske element, og det er en skam, for der er meget at være kritisk over for. 2% af verdens befolkning ejer 80% af verdens ressourcer. Halvdelen af verdens befolkning dør af fedme, mens den anden dør af sult. Det er ulækkert og absurd. Den kurve skal knækkes.

30 år / mand / i et forhold / byggeleder / Glostrup / fra Somalia / kom til Danmark i 1998 / opholdstilladelse i 2000

I may be a Danish citizen, but I am not Danish. This does not mean that I feel foreign or that I am dissatisfied with Denmark. It is just that I don’t need to be Danish. Besides, does it really matter if you feel Danish, as long as you feel at home and engage in society? In the West we have too much of the things we don’t need. The Tiger chain store and Black Friday are prime examples of the abundant society. The shops are full of stuff which nobody needs, and people form long queues to buy stuff that they can easily do without. The West is good for rights and equality and things like that, but not for people to meet up and talk with one another. There is a large surplus in the West, so people have time to look into themselves. Therefore it is not weird at all that so many suffer from depression. If I look inward for long enough, I will probably find something too to be unhappy with. The ‘60s are famous for people searching for themselves, but it was more legit then, because their inward search was also a rejection of something external. Many refused to be part of the system.

Today self-realisation has lost the socially critical element, and that is a shame, because there is much to criticise. 2% of the world’s population own 80% of the world’s resources. Half of the world’s population die from obesity and the other half from hunger. It is gross and absurd. The curve must be broken.

30 years / male / in a relationship / construction manager / Glostrup / from Somalia / came to Denmark in 1998 / residence permit in 2000


Sahar Asif Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed og bliver ret provokeret over udstillingens titel. Generelt føler jeg mig heller ikke ramt af den politiske diskurs om muslimer, men da Anders Samuelsen i forbindelse med OL lagde et billede på facebook af to beachvolleyspillere - én med tørklæde og langt tøj, én i bikini - og skrev, at billedet var et symbol på tvang kontra frihed, blev jeg vred, for jeg så mig selv på det billede. Jeg mistede min faster for nylig. Den dag, hun døde, stod jeg op og gik ud. Jeg kunne ikke klare at stå ansigt til ansigt med min mors sorg, for jeg ved, at den er forbundet med en større sorg over, at hun og min far ikke er, hvor de skulle være. Der er fattigt og usikkert i Afghanistan, men man er hos familien. Jeg spekulerer af og til på, hvad mine forældre skal med deres velstand og sikkerhed, når de ikke kan være sammen med de mennesker, som de elsker, og ikke kan tage afsked med dem, når de skal dø.

En af grundene til, at min far flygtede, var kvindens rolle i det afghanske samfund. Det fortalte han mig, da jeg var lille. Mine brødre skulle nok klare sig, men mit liv ville afhænge af, at jeg blev gift med en mand, som kunne forsørge mig. Min fars flugt var en kærlighedserklæring. Derfor føler jeg, at det er min pligt at uddanne mig og skabe et fundament for mig selv, for i Danmark har jeg muligheden. Jeg vågner ikke hver morgen og tænker, at nu skal jeg tilbringe endnu en dag på læsesalen, fordi mine forældre har gjort det her for mig, men bevidstheden om det sidder i mig og har indflydelse på de valg, jeg træffer.

24 år / kvinde / enlig / cand.scient.pol. / Skovlunde / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 1999

I don’t feel foreign, and I feel rather provoked by the title of this exhibition. In general I am not affected by the political discourse about Muslims, but when Anders Samuelsen, in connection with the Olympics, posted a photo of two beach volleyball players on Facebook, one with a headscarf and long clothes and one in a bikini, and added that the picture was a symbol of coercion versus liberty, I became angry, because I saw myself in that photo. Recently I lost my aunt. On the day she died I stood up and went out. I just couldn’t deal with standing face to face with my mother’s grief, because I know how her grief is associated with the even larger grief that she and my father are not where they are supposed to be. Afghanistan is poor and unstable, but you are always among family. I sometimes wonder what my parents really want with all their prosperity and security, when they can’t be with the people they love, and they can’t say their final goodbyes when they die.

One of my father’s reasons for fleeing was the role of women in the Afghan society. This he told me when I was a child. My brothers would get along fine, but my life would depend on me getting married to someone who could provide for me. My father’s flight was a declaration of love. Therefore I feel that it is my duty to educate myself and create a foundation for myself, because here in Denmark I have the possibility. I don’t wake up every morning thinking that I now have to spend yet another day in the reading room because I owe it to my parents, but the awareness is inside of me, and it has an impact on all the choices I make.

24 years / female / single / MSc in political science / Skovlunde / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark via family reunification in 1999


Allan Alansari Jeg føler mig overhovedet ikke fremmed her i Danmark. Det er klart, at jeg har haft dårlige oplevelser med danskere, men jeg har også haft dårlige oplevelser med andre nationaliteter. Det handler ikke om Danmark, men om det enkelte menneske.

I don’t feel foreign at all in Denmark. Of course I have had some bad experiences with Danish people, but I have also had bad experiences with other nationalities. It is not really about Denmark or Danes but about the individual person.

Jeg har brug for frihed for at kunne være mig selv. Jeg vil have lov til lytte til den musik, jeg har lyst til, og se ud, som jeg vil. Jeg nægter at lægge bånd på mig selv, bare fordi jeg skiller mig ud fra mængden. Her i København føler jeg mig hjemme.

I need the freedom to be myself. I want to listen to the music I like, and I want to look like I want to. I refuse to restrain myself just because I stand out from the crowd. Here in Copenhagen, I do feel at home.

Jeg har haft farvet mit hår og fået tatoveringer. Mange synes, at jeg har bevæget mig væk fra den irakiske kultur, men for mig er det et udtryk for min nyfundne frihed. Jeg er et metalhoved og spiller selv i et band. Min musik betyder alt for mig. Da jeg boede i Irak, brugte jeg år og små formuer på at skaffe den musik, jeg godt kunne lide. Men det var det værd, for når jeg spiller musik, føler jeg mig lykkelig. Jeg husker tydeligt første gang, jeg besøgte Odenses musikbibliotek. Jeg var lige kommet til Danmark og troede simpelthen, at jeg var kommet i himmelen. Jeg lånte så mange nodeblade, jeg overhovedet kunne slippe afsted med, og kopierede dem i frygt for, at det blot var et fatamorgana. Jeg kunne slet ikke forstå det. Musikken har også hjulpet mig med at få venner her i Danmark. Lige da jeg kom til Danmark, havde jeg en nabo, som ikke talte engelsk, og jeg kunne ikke dansk, så vi kommunikerede gennem musik og sad tit og jammede sammen.

- / mand / i et forhold / børn / uddannet petroleumsingeniør fra Irak og kandidat fra ITU / selvstændig webdesigner / København NV / fra Irak / kom til Danmark i 1999 / opholdstilladelse i 2000

I have dyed my hair and I also have tattoos. A lot of people think I have distanced myself from the Iraqi culture, but for me it is an expression of my newfound freedom. I am a metal freak, and I also play in a metal band. My music means everything to me. When I lived in Iraq, I spent years and a small fortune on buying the kind of music I like. But it was well worth it. I feel completely happy when I am playing music. I will never forget the first time I visited the music library in Odense. I had only just arrived in Denmark, but I thought I had arrived in heaven. I borrowed as much sheet music as I was allowed to and copied them all, because I feared that it was an awesome dream I might wake up from. I just couldn’t understand that it was real. Music has also helped me make friends here in Denmark. Just when I arrived I had a neighbour who didn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak Danish, so we communicated through music, and we would often sit and jam together.

- / male / in a relationship / children / educated petroleum engineer from Iraq and a masters degree from ITU /self-employed web designer / Copenhagen NV / from Iraq / came to Denmark in 1999 / residence permit in 2000


Aysha Kawal Jeg betragter mig selv som dansk, men mit ansigt er, som det er, min krop er, som den er, og jeg har fortsat den irakiske kultur i bagagen. Min mand og jeg er yazidier. I vores religion er påfugleenglen Guds repræsentant på jorden og et symbol på skønhed. Den pryder vores hjem, minder os om, hvad vi kommer fra, og præger vores tankegang.

I consider myself Danish, but my face and my body are what they are, and I still carry the Iraqi culture in my emotional baggage. My husband and I are Yazidis. In our religion the peacock angel is God’s representative on earth and a symbol of beauty. It adorns our home, reminds us where we come from, and influences our way of thinking.

Der findes et kurdisk ordsprog, som lyder: Mennesket er en fugl uden vinger, og man kan ikke styre, hvor man falder ned. Jeg faldt ned i Danmark som 29-årig, og mit liv startede forfra. I starten blev jeg forskrækket over at se så mange biler med bagage på taget, fordi det lignede de biler, der kører rundt med ligkister i Irak, men efterhånden vænnede jeg mig til det.

There is a Kurdish proverb saying that man is a bird without wings, and that you therefore cannot control where you land. I landed in Denmark when I was 29 years old, and my life started over again. In the beginning I was startled to see so many cars with luggage in roof racks, because they resembled the cars in Iraq driving around with coffins, but I gradually became used to it.

I Irak havde vi haft udfordringer under Saddams regering, fordi den ikke tolererede vores tanker om demokrati og forskellighed. I Danmark begyndte en ny og anderledes kamp, nemlig kampen for at få uddannelse, job og børn. Jeg gennemgik 10 års fertilitetsbehandling uden held.

In Iraq we were challenged by the Saddam regime, because it did not tolerate our thoughts on democracy and diversity. In Denmark we began a new and different battle, namely a battle to get an education and a job and to create a family. For ten years I received fertility treatment, alas with no success.

Det er hårdt at bygge forventninger op igen og igen gennem så mange år og hver gang blive skuffet, så på et tidspunkt besluttede min mand og jeg at holde op med at forsøge. Det er en stor sorg for mig, at det ikke lykkedes. Min mand havde børn fra et tidligere ægteskab. Vi har et billede af dem i vores stue, men det er desværre alt, vi ser til dem. De blev fanget af Saddams styrker og forsvandt for mange år siden. Jeg ved, at det gør ondt på min mand, men han er stærk. Han støtter mig altid og siger, at nu gælder det vores liv sammen.

46 år / kvinde / i et forhold / pædagog / Brønshøj / fra Irak / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 1999

It was hard to build up expectations again and again for so many years, but end up disappointed every time, so at some point my husband and I decided to stop trying. It makes me so sad that we failed. My husband had children from a previous marriage. We have a photo of them in our living room, but that is all we see of them. They were caught by Saddam’s forces and disappeared many years ago. I know that it hurts my husband, but he is strong, and he always supports me and tells me that now it is all about our life together.

46 years / female / in a relationship / pedagogue / Brønshøj / from Iraq / Kurdish background / came to Denmark via family reunification in 1999


Aheng Barzanji Jeg føler mig nok 50% dansk og 50% irakisk. Men jeg er ikke splittet. Tværtimod har det beriget mig at vokse op med to kulturer. Det har givet mig et stærkt fundament. Jeg føler mig slet ikke fremmed.

I probably feel 50% Danish and 50% Iraqi. But I am not torn. On the contrary, being raised in two cultures has enriched me and given me a strong set of values. I don’t feel foreign at all.

Nogle er hurtige til at drage konklusioner om mig på grund af mit tørklæde, men på mange måder er jeg lige det modsatte af deres fordomme. Jeg er meget sporty og har dyrket karate og fodbold i flere år. Desuden er jeg viljestærk og har en holdning til alting.

Some people are very quick to draw conclusions about me because of my headscarf. But in many respects I am the exact opposite of their prejudices. I am very sporty and I have practiced both karate and football for several years. I am also strong-minded and I have an opinion about everything.

Det var mit valg at tage tørklædet på. I min familie er det vores eget valg, og min søster har valgt ikke at gøre det. I koranen står der, at der ikke er tvang i troen, og jeg mener, at troen og den måde, man praktiserer sin tro på, er en privatsag, i hvert fald så længe det ikke kolliderer med landets love. Jeg har mødt meget modstand, men min familie har altid troet på mig, og jeg har altid vidst, at jeg nok skulle nå mine mål. Da jeg var færdig med gymnasiet, søgte jeg ind på Syddansk Universitet for at læse medicin. Problemet ved at bo i København og læse i Odense er, at jeg bruger seks timer hver dag på at pendle. Det vil sige, at jeg i hverdagen ikke har tid til så meget andet end at gå på universitetet, pendle og læse. Men jeg har efterhånden indset, at hvis ikke jeg skal gå død i mit studie, bliver jeg nødt til at sænke mit ambitionsniveau en anelse og sætte noget tid af til ting, der gør mig glad. Derfor bruger jeg nu de fleste af mine weekender sammen med mine veninder. Og jeg kan tydeligt mærke, hvordan det har lettet min ellers ret tunge hverdag.

It was my own choice to wear the headscarf. In our family, it is our own choice, and my sister has chosen not to wear one. In the Koran it says that there is no compulsion in faith, and I believe that faith, and the way you practice it, is a private matter, as long as it does not clash with the laws of the country. I have encountered a lot of opposition, but my family has always believed in me, and I always knew I would reach my goals. When I completed high school, I applied to the University of Southern Denmark, where I now study medicine. The problem with living in Copenhagen and studying in Odense is that I use up to six hours daily on travelling back and forth. So during the week I have no time for anything else than university, commuting and reading. But I have now realised that if I want to prevent myself from suffocating in my studies, I must lower my ambition level a little and reserve time for things that make me happy. So I now spend most of my weekends together with my friends, and I can feel how this has eased and lightened my otherwise overloaded everyday life.

26 år / kvinde / enlig / Frederiksberg / medicinstuderende / fra Irak / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 1999 / opholdstilladelse 2006

26 years / female / single / medicine student / Frederiksberg / from Iraq / Kurdish background / came to Denmark in 1999 / residence permit 2006


Abdul Qader Yousefi Når jeg er i Afghanistan, føler jeg mig fremmed, men ikke her. Jeg føler mig tilpas, når jeg lander i Kastrup. Jeg tager en dyb indånding og føler mig hjemme. Jeg synes, det er vigtigt, at vi bevarer de danske værdier og holder fast i demokratiet, menneskerettighederne og medmenneskeligheden.

Men mens der bliver sparet på sygehuse og uddannelser, bliver der brugt penge på at føre krig i f.eks. Irak, Afghanistan og Libyen. Vi bliver nødt til at spørge os selv, om krigene er nødvendige. Min livsfilosofi er inspireret af Jalal ad-din Rumi, en persisk digter, som levede for 800 år siden. Hans budskab var, at det vigtigste i verden er medmenneskelighed, og at man bedst nærmer sig Gud ved at give kærlighed til andre mennesker. For mig handler det ikke om Gud, men om, hvad der er vigtigt, nemlig kærlighed og medmenneskelighed. Tankegangen ligger ikke langt fra de tanker, som det danske velfærdssamfund bygger på. Som læge ved jeg, at mennesker er ens uanset, hvad de tror på. Vi ser ud på samme måde indeni, og der er ingen grund til at dele mennesker op efter religiøs overbevisning, hudfarve eller lignende.

46 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / læge / Gentofte / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark i 2000 / opholdstilladelse samme år

When I’m in Afghanistan I feel foreign, but not here. I feel comfortable when I land in Kastrup. I take a deep breath and feel at home. I think it is important that we preserve Danish values and that we hold on to democracy, human rights and humanism.

But whilst there are cut downs on hospitals and education, more money is being spent to wage war in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. We need to question ourselves whether these wars are necessary? My life philosophy is inspired by Jalal ad-din Rumi, a Persian poet who lived 800 years ago. His message was that the most important thing in the world is humanity, and that the best way to approach God is by giving love to other people. To me it is not about God, but about what is important, namely love and humanity. This mindset is not far from the reasoning on which the Danish welfare system is built. As a medical doctor, I know that all people are the same inside no matter what they believe in. We all look the same inside and there is no reason to split people up by their religious beliefs, the colour of their skin or the like.

46 years / male / in a relationship / children / medical doctor / Gentofte / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 2000 /residence permit same year


Haseeb Amiri Jeg er både dansk og afghansk, men ikke fremmed. Vi var nogle af de første udlændinge i Nørre Nebel. Folk var søde, hilste på os i byen, og nogle inviterede os hjem. Hvis man kender hinandens måde at leve på, kan man godt leve side om side, selvom man er forskellige. Når der er noget, jeg gerne vil opnå, sætter jeg alt ind på at få det til at lykkes. Jeg træner, øver, læser og drømmer om det om natten. Sådan var det med fodboldtricks, da jeg var yngre, og sådan var det, da jeg for et års tid siden søgte ind på Politiskolen. Jeg er stædig og har en stærk retfærdighedssans.

Jeg mener godt, at man kan hæve straffen på grov kriminalitet i Danmark og udvise udlændinge, som har begået voldtægt eller mord. Hvis man koster Danmark mere, end man gavner, kan man lige så godt tage hjem. Mine venner synes, jeg er hård på det punkt, men så længe proportionerne er i orden, må systemet gerne være kontant, for det skaber tryghed i resten af samfundet. Da jeg blev optaget på Politiskolen, var det en drengedrøm, der gik i opfyldelse, for det er første skridt mod at blive en af dem, der går efter ”the bad guys”. Hvis jeg en dag bliver efterforskningsleder, forestiller jeg mig, at jeg bliver sådan en John McClane fra Die Hard-type, som hverken sover eller ser familien, når en vigtig sag skal opklares.

26 år / mand / i forhold / studerende på Politiskolen / Brøndby / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 2000

I am both Danish and Afghan, but not foreign. We were among the first foreigners to arrive in Nørre Nebel. People were nice, greeted us when we met in the street, and some invited us into their homes. If you know each other’s way of living, you can live side by side, even if you are different. When there is something I want to achieve, I commit fully in order to succeed. I train, practice, read, and dream about it at night. That is the way it was with football tricks when I was younger, and also when I applied to the Police Academy about a year ago. I am stubborn and have a strong sense of justice.

I believe one could increase the sentences for serious crime in Denmark and deport foreigners who have committed rape or murder. If you cost the Danish taxpayers more than they benefit from you, you might as well go home. My friends consider me rather tough on that point, but as long as the proportions are alright, the system should be categorical in order to create a sense of safety in the rest of the society. When I was admitted to the Police Academy it was a boyhood dream come true, and my first step to becoming one of those who go after the “bad guys”. Should I one day become head of criminal investigations, I see myself as a sort of John McClane from Die Hard, who neither sleeps nor sees the family when he is on an important case.

26 years / male / in a relationship / Brøndby / Police Academy student / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark through family reunification in 2000


Yaqub Mohammed Quasimi Jeg er 50/50, afghansk og dansk. Uanset hvor lang tid, du har boet her, vil du blive ved med at være fremmed i andres øjne. Alle, der har politiske hensigter, kan og vil misbruge religion. Jeg er muslim, men det er ikke det, jeg vægter mest. Det handler om at være et godt menneske med et rent hjerte. Jeg kommer fra en veluddannet familie og er vokset op med bøger. Desværre er 70% af afghanerne i Afghanistan analfabeter, og analfabetisme og uvidenhed er roden til fundamentalisme.

Hvis du kan læse og har en uddannelse, ser du verden med åbne øjne. Hvis ikke må du nøjes med præstens svar. Det er som at være i et mørkt hus, hvor der kun er ét vindue. Alt, hvad man ved om verden, kommer fra det ene vindue. Hvis du er oplyst, kan du se flere vinduer, og så bliver dit perspektiv bredere. Rejser betyder også, at man får et andet syn på verden. Som ung tog jeg til Moskva for at studere, og da jeg kom hjem, så jeg Afghanistan i et nyt lys. Hvis jeg dengang havde vidst, hvad jeg ved nu, ville jeg ikke have valgt militæruniversitetet, for min uddannelse kan ikke bruges i Danmark, men dengang gav det mening for mig. Mujahedinerne angreb Afghanistan fra baser i Pakistan. Jeg var ung og patriotisk og ville forsvare mit land.

56 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / våbeningeniør / buschauffør / Roskilde / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark i 2000 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I’m 50/50 Afghan and Danish. It doesn’t matter how long you have lived here, because you will always remain a stranger in the minds of others. Everyone who has political intentions can and will abuse religion. I am a Muslim, but it is not what I prioritise the most. What I am concerned about is being a good person with a pure heart. I come from an educated family, and I grew up with books. Unfortunately 70% of Afghans in Afghanistan are illiterate, and ignorance is the root of fundamentalism.

If you can read and have an education, you see the world with open eyes. If not, you just make do with the priest’s words. It is like being in a dark house with just one window. Everything you know about the world comes through that one window. If you are educated and informed, you can see multiple windows, and your perspective will widen. Travelling also means that you will get new perspectives on the world. When I was young I went to Moscow to study, and when I returned to Afghanistan I saw the country in a new light. Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have chosen the Military Academy, because I can’t use this education in Denmark. But it made sense at the time. The Mujahedins attacked Afghanistan from bases in Pakistan. I was young and patriotic and wanted to defend my country.

56 years / male / in a relationship / children / weapon engineer / bus driver / Roskilde / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 2000 / residence permit same year


Rand Tayih Hvis vi siger, at kultur er noget, man har, så er jeg 100% fremmed, for jeg kommer med en anden kultur. Men hvis vi i stedet siger, at kultur er noget, vi gør, så er jeg 0% fremmed. Jeg er fra en kristen irakisk familie og har boet det meste af mit liv i Danmark. Det betyder, at jeg tit bliver placeret i nogle kasser, som jeg så alligevel ikke passer ind i, for jeg er hverken typisk iraker eller typisk dansk iraker. Det kan være frustrerende, men det giver mig samtidig frihed til at definere mig selv.

If we say that culture is something you have, then I am 100% foreign, because I came here with a different culture. But if we say that culture is something we do, then I am zero percent foreign. I come from a Christian Iraqi family, and I have lived most of my life in Denmark. This means that I am often placed in some little boxes where I do not fit in, because I am neither a typical Iraqi nor a typical Danish-Iraqi. It can be rather frustrating at times, but it does give me the opportunity to define myself.

Korset om min hals symboliserer Gud, men ikke en kristen Gud som sådan, for jeg tror ikke på religion.

The cross around my neck symbolises God, but not a Christian God as such, because I don’t believe in religion.

De fleste steder er Gud beskrevet som en, der giver mennesker ret til at bruge dyr, som de vil, men det er jeg begyndt at sætte spørgsmålstegn ved. Hvorfor skulle Gud ikke have empati med dyrene? Jeg får dårlig samvittighed, når jeg spiser kød, og overvejer helt at lade være.

In most places God is described as someone who gives people the right to use animals as they please, which is something I am beginning to question. Why should God not have empathy with animals, I ask myself? I feel guilty when I eat meat, and I seriously consider dropping it totally.

Jeg tror heller ikke nødvendigvis på helvede, som det er beskrevet i Biblen, for hvis mennesker er store nok til at tilgive, så tror jeg ikke på, at én, der er større end mennesket, ville være så smålig ikke at kunne det samme. Jeg vil gerne blive bedre til at vise taknemmelighed over for de mennesker, som er omkring mig. Jeg har svært ved at sige tak til et menneske, som står over for mig, eller bede vedkommende om hjælp, men over for Gud kan jeg gøre det. Jeg tror, at det er en af grundene til, at troen er vigtig for mig.

Also I don’t necessarily believe in hell as described in the Bible, because if people are generous enough to forgive, then I don’t believe that there is someone out there larger than man who would be so small-minded and not being able to do the same. I would like to be better at showing my gratitude to the people around me. I even find it hard to say thank you to someone standing right beside me, or indeed ask this person for help. But if it is God I want to thank, I can do it. I believe that is one of the reasons why faith is so important to me.

23 år / kvinde / enlig / studerer interkulturel pædagogik / Glostrup / fra Irak / kom til Danmark i 2000 /opholdstilladelse samme år

23 years / female / single / studies intercultural pedagogy / Glostrup/ from Iraq / came to Denmark in 2000 / residence permit same year


Mohammad Zewain Jeg er 100% iraker. Min mad, min kultur og mit sprog. Jeg taler dansk, men jeg kan ikke føle ord på dansk, og jeg kan slet ikke være romantisk på dansk. Mine pligter her i samfundet gør mig derimod 100% dansk.

I feel 100% Iraqi - my food, my culture and my language. I speak Danish well but I can’t feel words in Danish, and there is no way I can be romantic in Danish. However, my duty to the society makes me 100% Danish.

Jeg er træt af den måde, hvorpå udlændinge bliver repræsenteret i medierne. Det er ofte bare nogle få ballademageres skyld. Jeg tror på, at forældrene skal holdes ansvarlige for deres børns handlinger. Hvis de laver ballade, skal forældrene involveres.

I am tired of the way foreigners are portrayed in the media in Denmark. It is often due to just a few troublemakers. I think that parents should be held accountable for their children’s actions. If they make trouble, the parents should get involved.

Vores kultur siger, at drenge skal være stærke og modige. Det er deres opgave at passe på sig selv og deres familie, men her i Danmark har vi politiet, der passer på os.

Our culture says that boys should be strong and brave. It is their responsibility to protect themselves and their family, but here in Denmark the police are the ones who protect us.

Forældrene skal lære deres børn, at den danske kultur er anderledes. Her tror jeg især, at kvinder, som er ude på arbejdsmarkedet, påvirker deres familie positivt. Min kone og jeg har opdraget vores børn til at tage ansvar for deres handlinger. De bestemmer selv over deres liv. Vi har f.eks. både muslimer og ateister i familien til trods for det pres, de møder i det irakiske samfund. Jeg spiller skak hver tirsdag i Hvidovre Skakklub. Her sidder jeg i fire timer uden at sige et ord og koncentrerer mig udelukkende om skak. Jeg har en kone og fire drenge, så jeg nyder stilheden. Hvis jeg taber, kan jeg ikke sove om natten. Jeg lærte at spille skak som barn, før Irak forandrede sig, og før jeg blev tvunget til at bruge 11 år af mit liv, hele min ungdom, i militæret. For mig er skak en langt mere konstruktiv form for krig.

I believe that the parents must tell their children that Danish culture is different. I think that foreign women who are working have a positive impact on their families and on society. My wife and I have raised our children to take responsibility for their own actions. They are in control of their lives. In our family we have both muslims and atheists, despite the pressure they encounter in our Iraqi community. Every Tuesday I play chess in Hvidovre Chess Club. I sit for four hours without saying a word, and I concentrate on chess. I have a wife and four sons, so I enjoy the silence. If I lose, I can’t sleep at night. I learned to play chess when I was still a child, before Iraq changed, and before I was forced to spend 11 years of my life, all of my youth in fact, in the military. For me, chess is a far more constructive form of conflict.

60 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / uddannet ingeniør / buschauffør / Valby / fra Irak / kom til Danmark i 2000 / opholdstilladelse samme år

60 years / male / in a relationship / children / educated as engineer / bus driver / Valby / from Iraq / came to Denmark in 2000 / residence permit same year


Khalil Nazari Jeg tænker egentlig ikke på mig selv som flygtning mere. Måske er jeg 5% fremmed. Nej, ikke engang. Jeg har boet her længe og gjort, hvad jeg kunne for ikke at føle mig som en fremmed. Hvis du opfører dig ordentligt, følger spillereglerne, osv., så peger folk ikke på din hudfarve.

I don’t really count myself as a refugee any more. Maybe I am still 5% foreign. No, not even that. I have lived here for a long time and done my utmost in order not to feel like a foreigner. If you behave properly, abide by the rules, etc., then people will not point at you because of the colour of your skin.

Som 15-årig forlod jeg Afghanistan. Jeg er den ældste i søskendeflokken og måtte rejse fra min familie for ikke at blive tvunget ind i Taliban. Jeg endte i Danmark og fik venner, kæreste og en omgangskreds, som med tiden blev en slags familie for mig.

I was 15 when I left Afghanistan. I am the eldest of the siblings, and I had to leave my family so as not to be forced into Taliban. I ended up in Denmark, made friends, found a girlfriend and a circle of people who eventually became a sort of family for me.

Jeg er blevet voksen i Danmark. Det er her, jeg er kommet til at høre til, og det er her, min fremtid er. Men når jeg er alene, sætter jeg af og til musik på fra mit hjemland.

I have become an adult in Denmark. This is where I belong, this is where my future lies. But when I am on my own, I sometimes listen to music from my country of origin.

Det vækker minder om mit liv i Afghanistan og om den, jeg var engang. Mit modersmål er lidt rustent efterhånden, men der er alligevel noget sært genkendeligt over at lytte til det og synge med på sangene. Jeg vil gerne holde fast i sproget, så jeg en dag kan give det videre til mine børn. Det er en del af mig, og selvom jeg skal lede efter ord og vendinger, er det som om, at der i sproget og musikken er noget, som jeg forstår 100%.

It brings back memories of my life in Afghanistan and of who I once was. Although I am a bit out of practice with my mother tongue, there is still something strangely recognisable when I listen to it and sing along to the songs. I would like to hold onto the language so that one day I may be able to pass it on to my children. It is a part of me, and even if I must search for words and phrases, it is as if there is something in the language and the music that I understand 100%.

30 år / mand / i et forhold / uddannet bygningsingeniør / projektleder / København N / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark i 2001 / opholdstilladelse samme år

30 years / male / in a relationship / building engineer / project manager / Copenhagen N / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 2001 / residence permit same year


Manila Ghafuri Grundlæggende føler jeg mig hjemme i Danmark, men det påvirker mig, når jeg kan mærke, at jeg bliver stemplet som en fremmed. Sidste år, da jeg oplevede de mange flygtninge på motorvejene i Danmark, skete der noget i mig. Det tog mig tilbage. Jeg blev bevidst om, at jeg har en flygtningestemme, og jeg besluttede mig for at bruge den.

Basically I feel at home in Denmark, but it does affect me when I feel I am being labelled as a foreigner. Last year when I saw all the refugees on the motorways in Denmark, something happened inside of me. It took me back in time. I became aware that I have a refugee voice, and I decided to use it.

Under den værste snestorm i 20 år flygtede mine forældre, syv søskende og jeg ud af Afghanistan. Min mor og far bar de mindste. Nogle gange gravede vi os ned i jorden for at holde på varmen. Vi krydsede floder, vi skulle altid være stille. Menneskesmuglerne ville give min lillesøster piller, fordi hun græd, og hvis nogle var langsomme, smed de deres ting væk. I Polen blev vi splittet, og først efter halvandet år blev vi samlet igen. Det er 15 år siden, men det præger os stadig.

It was during one of the worst snowstorms in 20 years that my parents, seven siblings and myself fled Afghanistan. My mother and father carried the little ones. Sometimes we had to dig ourselves into the ground to keep warm. We crossed rivers, we had to be quiet all the time. The human smugglers wanted to give my little sister some pills because she cried, and if people were slow, they threw their things away. In Poland we got separated, and it wasn’t until 18 months later that we got back together again. This is now 15 years ago, but it still influences us all.

Vi har leget med skæbnen ved at forlade vores hjemland. Den usikkerhed, der fulgte med flugten og adskillelsen, mærker os den dag i dag, selvom min familie er samlet, og vores fremtid i Danmark er sikret. Derfor ser jeg det som min pligt at tale på vegne af dem, der ikke har overskuddet. Når jeg f.eks. ser en dokumentar om en 16-årig stærk og velintegreret pige, hvis liv langsomt falder fra hinanden, fordi hun efter seks år i Danmark stadig ikke ved, om hun og hendes familie skal sendes tilbage til Afghanistan, bliver jeg nødt til at blande mig. Jeg bliver nødt til at tale imod et system, som nedbryder mennesker og gør børn voksne alt for tidligt, for jeg ved, hvor ødelæggende det er.

23 år / kvinde / enlig / dansk-studerende på universitetet / Vanløse / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark i 2001 / opholdstilladelse i 2003

By leaving our homeland, we toyed with our destiny. The insecurity which came along with the flight and the separation still marks us today, even though the whole family is together and our future in Denmark is safe. So I see it as my duty to speak on behalf of the ones who do not have the strength. Like when I see a documentary about a 16-yearold strong and well-integrated girl whose life is slowly falling apart because she still doesn’t know, after six years in Denmark, if she and her family will be returned to Afghanistan. I have to interfere. I have to speak out against a system which breaks down people and turns children into adults far too soon, because I know how devastating it can be.

23 years / female / single / Danish student at the University / Vanløse / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 2001 / residence permit in 2003


Magd Ibrahim Føler jeg mig fremmed? Ja og nej. Jeg har oplevet racisme nogle få gange, men overordnet set føler jeg mig ikke fremmed, for jeg bor i et demokratisk land, som er præget af de værdier, jeg altid har kæmpet for. I Sudan blev jeg fængslet som 17-årig på grund af mit engagement på venstrefløjen, og under fængslingen mistede jeg synet som følge af tortur.

Whether I feel foreign? Both yes and no. I have experienced racism a few times, but overall I don’t feel foreign here, because I live in a democratic country characterised by the values I have always fought for. I was 17 when I was jailed in Sudan because of my involvement with the political left wing, and during my time in prison I lost my sight as a result of torture.

Jeg søger tilflugt i bøger. Litteratur giver mig identitet, plads til at tænke frit og nye forståelser af mig selv og verden. Jeg er vokset op med en far, der læste alt, hvad han kunne få fat på, og som lærte mig, at hvis man kun læser det, man har lov til at læse, bliver man dum. Da jeg var ni år gammel, satte det hemmelige politi ild til vores bogreol, men min far fortsatte med at skaffe bøger. For min far var det at læse f.eks. sovjetisk litteratur en trodshandling mod regimet.

I seek refuge in books. Literature gives me an identity, a space for thinking freely, and a new understanding of myself and the world. I have grown up with a father who read everything he could lay his fingers on, and who taught me that if you only read what you are allowed to read, you become stupid. I remember clearly when I was nine years old, the secret police set fire to our bookshelf, but my father continued to collect books. For example, my father read Soviet literature as a sort of rebellion against the regime.

I Danmark forbinder jeg bøger med frihed. Jeg er fri til at læse, hvad jeg vil, og dermed fri til at udvide min horisont i alle mulige retninger. Når jeg f.eks. læser Hans Kirks beskrivelser af det indremissionske miljø i Fiskerne, bliver jeg på én gang klogere på en specifik del af Danmark, som det så ud engang, samtidig med at jeg får indblik i nogle mere almene mekanismer, der gør sig gældende i religiøse fællesskaber overalt i verden. Den frihed til at tilegne sig viden burde alle mennesker have. Samtidig giver lydbogsformatet mig en form for frihed, som jeg ellers kan savne som blind, nemlig frihed til at klare mig selv og være uafhængig af andres hjælp.

33 år / mand / enlig / massør og underviser på massøruddannelsen for blinde / Frederiksberg / fra Sudan / kom til Danmark som kvoteflygtning i 2001

In Denmark I associate books with freedom. I am free to read what I want, which means that I am free to widen my horizon in all possible directions. When I read Hans Kirk’s description of the community of an authoritarian Danish religious movement in “Fiskerne”, I learned more about this particular part of Denmark, as it once used to be, while at the same time I also gained insight into some of the general mechanisms in all religious communities all over the world. Everyone should have the freedom to acquire knowledge. Also, the audiobook format gives me a sort of freedom that one may otherwise miss when you are blind, namely the freedom to take care of myself and not rely on the assistance of others.

33 years / male / single / masseur and teacher on the masseur training for the blind / Frederiksberg / from Sudan / came to Denmark as a quota refugee in 2001


Taira Irfan Rzazade Jeg synes, at mange unge udlændinge er splittede her i Danmark. Samfundet siger, at de skal opføre sig på én måde og familien siger noget andet. Hvis de bliver for “danske”, skuffer de familien, og hvis de er for “udenlandske”, skuffer de samfundet. Jeg havde et dejligt liv, indtil jeg mødte min mand. Han bankede mig, og jeg levede konstant i frygt. Da krigen startede i Afghanistan, flygtede han til Danmark, mens jeg levede illegalt med vores to børn rundt om i verden. Vi endte med at blive skilt, og mine børn blev familiesammenført med ham. Da jeg kom til Danmark nogle år senere, mødte jeg helvede. Han tævede børnene, han slog dem, som man ville slå en voksen mand. Han truede mig konstant med, at han ville tage børnene fra mig. Han bildte mig ind, at jeg ingen rettigheder havde her, og at de ville udvise mig, hvis de hørte, at vi havde problemer i familien.

Min datter gik på et tidspunkt til myndighederne. Jeg glemmer aldrig hendes øjne, da jeg sagde, at hun løj om, at hun blev banket. Kort efter besluttede jeg, at min fremtid var så mørk, at livet ikke længere var værd at leve.

I think that many young foreigners here in Denmark feel divided. Society says that they should behave in one way and the family says something else. If they become too “Danish”, they are letting down the family, and if they are too “foreign”, they are letting down the society. I had a wonderful life until I met my husband. He used to beat me, and I lived in constant fear. When the war began in Afghanistan, he fled to Denmark, while I was living illegally around the world with our two children. We ended up getting divorced, and my children were reunited with him. When I came to Denmark, some years later, I felt like I had come to hell. He was beating the children, he hit them as if he were hitting a grown man. He threatened me by saying that he would take the children away from me. He made me believe that I had no rights here, and that they would deport me if they found out that we had problems in the family.

At one point my daughter went to the authorities. I will never forget her eyes when I told them that she was lying about being beaten. Shortly after this episode, I decided that my future was so dark, that life was no longer worth living.

Det endte med, at han tog børnene fra mig, og jeg blev nødt til at gøre noget, så jeg gik til min sagsbehandler. Det var her jeg fandt ud af, at jeg havde rettigheder. Jeg fik fuld forældremyndighed og kunne nu bedre beskytte mine børn. Hver gang jeg ser en glad familie, gør det ondt. Jeg er så ked af, at jeg ikke kunne give mine børn et bedre liv. Men jeg har et godt liv nu, jeg er under uddannelse, og mine børn har det godt. Idag er min fremtid så lys, at jeg er bange for at dø, før jeg når at opleve den.

He took the children from me, and that made me to go to my caseworker. It was here that I found out that I actually have rights. I got full custody and were now able to protect my children. Every time I see a happy family, it hurts. I am so sorry that I could not give my children a better life. But I have a good life now, I’m getting an education, and my children are doing well. Today my future’s so bright that I’m afraid to die before I get to experience it.

48 år / kvinde / børn / enlig / studerer til ernæringsassistent / København S / fra Afghanistan / azerbajansk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 2002 / fik opholdstilladelse i 2004

48 year / woman / single / children / studying to become a nutrition assistant / Copenhagen S / from Afghanistan / Azerbaijan background / came to Denmark in 2002 / residence permit in 2004


Farideh Osmani Mine holdninger er ikke fremmede, og det er den måde, jeg lever mit liv på, heller ikke. Men selvom jeg tænker og drømmer på dansk, vil jeg aldrig kunne blive 100% dansk.

My attitudes are not foreign, and neither is the way I live my life. But even though I think and dream in Danish, I will never become 100% Danish.

Jeg havde boet hos min far i tre dage, da han slog mig første gang. Min bror og jeg havde kun boet hos min mor, inden vi kom til Danmark, så min far var helt fremmed for mig. Som barn var mit liv meget kontrolleret, og jeg havde ingen frihed. Gennem hele min opvækst har jeg været kastet rundt mellem min far, min mor og forskellige opholdssteder, men har aldrig rigtigt passet ind nogen steder. Jeg kunne ikke leve op til min fars forventninger om en god muslimsk datter, jeg er ikke mors pige, der opfører sig pænt og korrekt, og jeg er heller ikke en rigtig dansker på grund af mit udseende. Jeg tror stadig, at jeg søger efter en plads her i samfundet, ikke kun for mig, men også for alle andre. De, som kender mig, ved, at jeg godt kan lide at provokere folk og skubbe til deres grænser.

I had lived with my father for three days when he hit me for the first time. Before we came to Denmark, my brother and I had only lived with our mother, so my father was a complete stranger to me. My life was controlled and I had no freedom. Throughout my childhood I have been thrown between my father, my mother, and various shelters, but I never really fitted in anywhere. I couldn’t live up to my father’s expectations of a good Muslim daughter; I am not a mummy’s girl who behaves properly and correct; and because of my appearance I am not a real Dane either. I am still looking for my place in society, not just for myself but for all the others too. The people who know me, know that I like to provoke people and push their boundaries.

Det er vigtigt, at vi giver plads til hinanden, og det kan vi kun, hvis vi dropper alle vores fordomme. Selvom du er en muslimsk pige, der går med tørklæde, vil jeg stadig tilbyde dig en cigaret eller en øl, for hvorfor skal andres fordomme fratage dig dit valg? Man skal ikke dømmes på baggrund af ens religion, seksualitet, etnicitet eller bare ens udseende. Folk skal ikke underlægges kontrol, om det så er fra familien eller samfundet. Jeg tror også, at det er derfor, jeg aldrig vil blive 100% dansk. For hvis jeg ikke vil ændre på mig selv for min families skyld, hvorfor skulle jeg så gøre det for Danmark?

25 år / kvinde / enlig / HF-studerende / København S / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark i 2002 / opholdstilladelse samme år

It is important to give space to each other, and we can only do that if we drop all our prejudices. Even if you are a Muslim girl, wearing a headscarf, I will still offer you a cigarette or a beer, because why should other people’s prejudices deprive you of your choice? You should not be judged by your religion, sexuality, ethnicity or your appearance for that matter. People should not be subject to control, whether it be from their family or from society. That is why I don’t think I will ever become 100% Danish. Because if I do not want to change myself for my family’s sake, why should I do it for Denmark?

25 years / female / single / HF student / Copenhagen S / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 2001 / residence permit same year


Nematollah Osmani Jeg føler hele tiden, at jeg skal bevise mit værd for at blive accepteret. Og det er udelukkende fordi, jeg er udlænding. Jeg skal hele tiden være lidt bedre end de andre, smile lidt mere og arbejde lidt hårdere. Hver morgen føles det som om, at jeg tager en maske på, som jeg først kan tage af, når jeg kommer hjem.

I constantly feel the need to prove myself in order to be accepted. And this is only because I am a foreigner. I constantly have to be just that little bit better than the others, I have to smile a little more, and work a little harder. Every morning it is as though I have to take on a mask, which I cannot remove till I return home.

Da jeg gik i 9. klasse, tog min far min søster og mig med på ferie til Iran. Men det var ikke en ferie. Han sendte os til Pakistan, hvor vi skulle bo hos hans familie. Min far havde fuld forældremyndighed over os, så min mor kunne intet stille op.

When I was in the 9th grade, my father took my sister and me on a holiday in Iran. But it was no holiday. Instead he sent us on to Pakistan, where we were supposed to stay with his family. My father had full custody of us, so there was nothing our mother could do in this situation.

Han mente, at vi var blevet for danske, og han nægtede at lade os vende tilbage. Min mor havde tidligere boet i Pakistan og var i kontakt med en familie i landet. De gik med til at hjælpe os hen til den danske ambassade. Så en nat stak min søster og jeg af. Vi havde ikke vores pas, fordi min far havde det, så vi var bange for at blive taget af politiet. Men vi havde vores sygesikringsbevis og håbede, at det var nok. Den danske ambassade tog rigtig godt imod os, og da min mor fortalte, at vi var blevet bortført, kom vi tilbage til Danmark. Men her ramte vi ind i et nyt problem. Da min far havde fuld forældremyndighed, fik vi ikke lov til at bo hos min mor. Derfor blev vi placeret på en institution i Jylland, indtil hun fik forældremyndigheden nogle måneder senere. Det tog mig et stykke tid at komme over mine turbulente teenageår, men jeg føler langt om længe, at jeg har fået ro. Nu fokuserer jeg på mit job og har valgt at se positivt på livet og på min fremtid.

27 år / mand / enlig / salgsleder i Netto / København S / fra Afghanistan / kom til Danmark i 2002 / opholdstilladelse samme år

He was convinced that we had become too Danish, and he refused to let us return. My mother had previously lived in Pakistan, and she was in touch with a family there, who agreed to help us get to the Danish Embassy. One night my sister and I managed to escape. We did not have passports, as our father had confiscated them, so we were afraid that we might be caught by the police. We did however have our Danish National Health Service cards and we hoped that they would be sufficient. The Danish embassy took really good care of us, and when my mother told them that we had been abducted, we were returned to Denmark. Back in Denmark we ran into another problem. As our father still had full custody over us, we were not allowed to live with our mother. We were placed in an institution in Jutland, until some months later when our mother finally got full custody. It took me some time to get over my turbulent teenage years, but now I finally feel at peace. I am focussed on my job and I have chosen to have a positive outlook on life and on my future.

27 years / male / single / sales manager in Netto / Copenhagen S / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 2002 / residence permit same year


Julien Kalimira Mzee Murhul Jeg føler mig fremmed i Danmark, mere end 100%. Når regeringen konstant strammer reglerne på udlændingeområdet i stedet for at lave regler, som fremmer integrationen, er det svært at føle sig hjemme.

I feel foreign in Denmark, even more than 100%. When the government constantly tightens legislation on immigration instead of making legislation which will facilitate integration, it is hard to feel at home.

Mit mellemnavn Mzee betyder ‘vis mand’ på Swahili. Min far havde en drøm om, at jeg skulle blive en stor mand i verden. Da jeg var 16 år, døde han. Jeg kunne lige så godt være havnet på gaden, men var heldig at komme på universitetet. I Danmark sagde min sagsbehandler, at udenlandske uddannelser ikke tæller, og at Danmark ikke mangler veluddannede mennesker, men ufaglært arbejdskraft. Det er en legaliseret form for diskrimination, og det ramte mig hårdt, for min far plejede at sige, at hans eneste formål i livet var min uddannelse. Mit efternavn Murhula betyder ‘fred’, men først da jeg mødte min danske mor Else Marie, fandt jeg en smule fred i Danmark. I perioden 2005 til 2007 fungerede hun som min personlige integrationsminister. Hun betalte det adgangsgivende kursus til RUC og depositummet til mit kollegieværelse. I dag har jeg en kandidatgrad, men det er svært at finde arbejde. Jeg har været medlem af Venstre i mange år, men partiet brugte mig bare til at fremstå mangfoldigt, og jeg blev aldrig opstillet.

My middle name Mzee means “wise man” in Swahili. My father had a dream about me becoming a great man of the world. I was 16 when he died. I might easily have ended up in the street, but I was lucky to get into university. In Denmark my case worker told me that foreign education does not count here, and that there is no shortage of welleducated people in Denmark, only of people for unskilled jobs. This must be some sort of legalized form of discrimination, and it hit me hard, because my father always claimed that his only purpose in life was my education. My surname Murhula means “peace”, but it wasn’t until I met my Danish mother, Else Marie, that I found a bit of peace in Denmark. From 2005 to 2007 she served as my private integration minister. She paid for the qualifying course for RUC and the deposit for a room at the dormitory. Today I have a master’s degree, but it is still hard to find work. I have been a member of the liberal party Venstre for many years, but they only used me so that they could appear as diverse, and I was never accepted as a candidate.

Det danske Folketing er som det sydafrikanske rugbylandshold før apartheid. Vi nye danskere, som er født syd for Sahara, er ikke en del af Folketinget, og derfor føler vi os heller ikke som en del af samfundet.

The Danish parliament is just like the South African national rugby team before apartheid. Us new Danes born south of Sahara are not part of it, and as a result we don’t feel like we are part of society either.

Nu har jeg meldt mig ind i Alternativet. Så må vi se, hvad der sker.

I have now enrolled with the party Alternativet, so let us see what will happen.

42 år / mand / i et forhold / børn / cand.scient.adm. / selvstændig / København N / fra DR Congo / kom til Danmark som kvoteflygtning i 2002

42 years / male / in a relationship / children / M.Sc. in administration / self-employed / Copenhagen N / from DR Congo / came to Denmark as a quota refugee in 2002


Emiyou Asmamaw Jeg føler mig ikke 100% fremmed, for jeg forstår sproget. På den anden side har jeg ingen danske venner. Så på en måde er det 50/50. Det bekymrer mig til gengæld, at mine børn på otte og ti spørger mig, om de er danskere, for de er jo vokset op her og kender ikke til andet.

Because I understand the language, I don’t feel 100% foreign. On the other hand I haven’t got any Danish friends. So it is sort of fiftyfifty. But it does worry me that my children of eight and ten ask me if they are Danish, because they grew up here and have known nothing else.

Det første kulturchok, jeg fik her i Danmark, var, at man ikke måtte slå børn. I Etiopien er det meget normalt, og derfor kom det bag på mig. Jeg er uddannet revisor, men den danske børneopdragelse interesserede mig så meget, at jeg valgte at læse til pædagog. Det bedste ved Danmark er, at jeg ikke skal bekymre mig for mine børns fremtid. Hvis de bliver syge, kan de få behandling på hospitalet, og de kan også få sig en uddannelse her. Men jeg mangler et solidarisk fællesskab i det danske samfund eller i det mindste hos familiemedlemmer. Da min mand blev syg, stod jeg helt alene med det. Jeg kender mange gennem mit studie og mit arbejde, men da min mand blev syg, var det kun hans familie, der støttede mig.

The first thing that shocked me in Denmark was that you do not beat your children. In Ethiopia it is quite normal, so it took me by surprise. I am a trained auditor, but the Danish way of raising children caught my attention so I chose to study to be a pedagogue. The best thing about living in Denmark is that I don’t have to worry about my children’s future. If they become ill, they will get treatment at the hospital, and they can get an education here. But what I miss in the Danish society is more solidarity, at least among family members. When my husband fell ill I was left to cope on my own. I know a lot of people through my study and my work, but when my husband became ill it was just his family who supported me.

Her hjælper folk kun deres nærmeste og kun, når de har overskud. I Etiopien smider man alt, hvad man har i hænderne, for at hjælpe, uanset om man er bekendt eller arbejdskollega. Folks værdier er anderledes her.

Here you only help the ones closest to you, and only if you have the energy for it. In Ethiopia you drop everything so that you can help whether you are an acquaintance or a work colleague. The values of people here are different.

Måske er det fordi, vi bor i et rigt land, hvor man ikke længere har brug for hinanden. Der er så stor afstand mellem mennesker. Jeg arbejdede f.eks. et sted i fem måneder, men de sagde aldrig andet end hej til mig. Jeg synes, at mennesket har mistet sin værdi her i Danmark.

Maybe it is because we live in a rich country where you no longer need one another. There is such a big gap between people. Like I worked somewhere for five months, but nobody said anything but “hi” to me. I think that the human being has lost its value here in Denmark.

45 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / pædagogstuderende / Fredensborg / fra Etiopien / kom til Danmark i 2003 / opholdstilladelse samme år

45 years / female / in a relationship / children / studies pedagogy / Fredensborg / from Ethiopia / came to Denmark in 2003 / residence permit same year


Anonym Jeg føler mig 50% fremmed, fordi jeg stadig ikke rigtigt forstår det danske samfund. Men jeg håber, at jeg en dag kan føle mig 100% hjemme her. Jeg kom til Danmark illegalt.

Min far blev politisk forfulgt, og derfor arrangerede mine forældre et ægteskab for mig. Jeg var 14, og min mand var 19. De næste otte år levede jeg mit liv i hans hjem i Danmark. Jeg gik ikke i skole, lærte ikke dansk og havde ingen venner. De eneste mennesker, som jeg talte med, var min og hans familie. Efter at have fået afslag på asyl tre gange fik jeg i 2011 opholdstilladelse og blev sendt på sprogskole. For første gang siden jeg kom til Danmark, fik jeg mulighed for at være sammen med andre mennesker. I 2009 blev min mand gift med sin anden kone, uden at jeg vidste det. Flerkoneri er meget normalt i visse egne af Irak. De siger, at det står i Koranen, men jeg forstår ikke, hvorfor mænd må have flere koner, mens straffen for en kvinde, der er sammen med en anden mand, er døden. Da jeg fandt ud af, at han var blevet gift igen, nægtede jeg at tale, spise og drikke og blev indlagt på hospitalet i 10 dage. Senere flyttede han mig ind i en lejlighed i Brønshøj, og jeg så ham ikke i fire måneder. Jeg tror, at han flyttede sammen med sin anden kone og deres tre børn. I den tid begyndte jeg at åbne op. Jeg fik min første veninde og følte endelig, at jeg kunne trække vejret igen. Men jeg blev nødt til at flytte tilbage til ham. Min opholdstilladelse er betinget af ham, og jeg er bange for at miste den. Jeg har dog meldt ham til politiet, og siden da har han og hans familie behandlet mig okay. Men det er svært at gå tilbage, når man har prøvet at være fri.

28 år / kvinde / i et forhold /fra Irak / kom til Danmark i 2003 / opholdstilladelse i 2011

I feel 50% foreign because I still don’t understand the Danish society. But I hope that one day I will feel 100% at home here. I came to Denmark illegally.

My father was subject to political persecution, so my parents arranged a marriage for me. I was 14 and my husband 19. The next eight years my life was in his home in Denmark. I did not go to school, did not learn Danish, and I had no friends. The only people I spoke to were my and his family. After having been turned down for asylum three times, I finally got a residence permit in 2011 and was sent off to language school. For the first time since arriving in Denmark I had the opportunity to be with other people. In 2009 my husband married his second wife. Polygamy is quite normal in certain regions of Iraq. They claim it is written in the Quran, but I don’t understand why men are allowed to have multiple wives, when the punishment for a female adulterer is death. When I found out that he had married again, I refused to talk, eat, and drink, and was hospitalised for ten days. Later on he moved me into a flat in Brønshøj, and I did not see him for four months. I think he moved in with his other wife and their three children. During that time I began to open up, got my first friend and felt I could finally breathe again. But I had to move back in with him. My residence permit is only valid if I am with him and I am afraid to lose it. I did report him to the police, and since then he and his family have treated me alright. But it is hard to go back when you have tried to be free.

28 years / female / in a relationship / from Iraq / came to Denmark in 2003 / residence permit in 2011


Reza Fahlevis Jeg er måske 40% fremmed, men jeg føler mig som et menneske. Det gjorde jeg ikke i Malaysia, hvor jeg boede illegalt i fem år. Folk hadede os, vi var forfulgt af politiet, og vi levede i skoven. Da jeg kom til Danmark, fik jeg penge og et sted at bo. Der er racister alle steder, folk der råber “perker” og “skrid hjem”, men det er nemmere at være ligeglad, når man overordnet set får, hvad man har brug for og føler sig anerkendt som menneske.

I may be something like 40% foreign, but I feel like a human being. I didn’t in Malaysia, where I lived illegally for five years. People hated us, we were persecuted by the police, and we lived in the forests. When I came to Denmark, I received both money and a place to live. There are racists everywhere and people shouting “Paki” and “piss off home”, but it is easier not to be provoked when your basic requirements are met and you feel recognised as a human being.

Noget af det første, jeg lagde mærke til i Danmark, var, at der var meget få mennesker på gaden. Da jeg spurgte en taxachauffør, hvorfor det var sådan, sagde han, at jeg skulle stille mig ud og vente i et kvarter, og så ville jeg forstå. Efter fem minutter satte jeg mig ind igen, fordi det var for koldt. “Der har du svaret”, sagde han så. Der er stor forskel på sommer og vinter i Danmark. Om sommeren er der liv overalt, og stemningen minder mig om livet dér, hvor jeg er vokset op, men om vinteren kan jeg godt føle mig ensom. I efteråret blev jeg far til et barn i Malaysia, hvor min kone bor. Jeg ved ikke, hvordan vores fremtid skal se ud, men vi skal finde ud af at leve sammen, så jeg kan være en del af mit barns liv. Da jeg var færdig med 9. klasse var jeg skoletræt og gad ikke uddanne mig. Det fortryder jeg i dag.

One of the first things I noticed in Denmark was that there were so few people in the streets. I asked a taxi driver why this was so. He told me to go outside and wait for a quarter of an hour, and I would understand. After five minutes I went back inside the car again. It was simply too cold. “So you see now”, he said to me. There is a big difference between summer and winter in Denmark. In summer there is life everywhere and the atmosphere reminds me of where I grew up, but in the winter I can feel really lonely. In the autumn I became father to a child in Malaysia where my wife lives. I don’t know what the future will hold for us, but we must figure out how we can live together so I can be a part of my child’s life. When I finished the 9th grade, I was so fed up with school and I couldn’t be bothered to get an education. That is something I regret today.

En uddannelse havde åbnet mange døre både i Danmark og i udlandet, men jeg har ingen uddannelse, så indtil videre er jeg fanget i mit job som buschauffør.

An education would have opened many doors in Denmark and abroad, but I haven’t any, so for the time being I am trapped in my job as a bus driver.

37 år / mand / i et forhold / barn / buschauffør / Høje Gladsaxe / fra Indonesien / kom til Danmark som kvoteflygtning i 2005

37 years / male / in a relationship / child / bus driver / Høje Gladsaxe / from Indonesia / came to Denmark as a quota refugee in 2005


Sofia Jeylani Bobow Da jeg var ti år, besluttede mine forældre at forlade Somalia. Vi delte os op, og min mor tog de syv ældste med sig, mens jeg og mine to yngre søskende tog med min far. Jeg var den ældste, og derfor var det tit mig, som måtte passe mine søskende. Det tog os to år at komme til Danmark og tre år, før vores familie blev genforenet. Jeg har mange grimme minder, som jeg prøver at glemme. Jeg husker en gravid kvinde, som døde af tørst. I en hel dag sad vi med hendes lig, før de bar hende ud af bussen.

When I was ten, my parents decided to leave Somalia. We split up, and my mother took the seven oldest children while I and my two youngest went with my father. I was the eldest, so it was often I who had to look after my siblings. It took us two years to travel to Denmark and three years before we were all reunited. I have so many horrible memories that I am still trying to forget. I remember a pregnant woman who died from dehydration. We sat with her body all day before they carried her out of the bus.

Jeg blev voksen meget tidligt. Jeg blev gift som 16-årig, mor som 17-årig og skilt, da jeg var 19. Og for to år siden fandt lægerne ud af, at mine nyrer ikke længere virker, som de skal. Det var svært at acceptere.

I grew up quickly. I got married at 16, I became a mother at 17, and I was divorced at 19. Two years ago the doctors found out that my kidneys are no longer working the way they should. This was hard to accept.

Min familie bor ikke i nærheden af mig, og det at være enlig mor og syg er meget at håndtere. Min søn troede, at jeg arbejder på hospitalet, fordi jeg tre gange om ugen går i dialyse. Da jeg var ung, tænkte jeg ikke særlig meget over meningen med livet. Men efter jeg blev syg, er jeg blevet meget mere religiøs. Min mor viste mig vejen. Hendes sidste lektie til mig var at være taknemmelig for livet og at håbe og tro. Min mor døde i december efter at have fået konstateret leverkræft tre måneder forinden. Hun har altid været en kæmpe støtte for mig, og jeg mangler hende virkelig meget. Livet kan være hårdt, men der er altid håb forude, og jeg ved, at de en dag ringer fra hospitalet og siger, at de har fundet en nyre til mig. Jeg er ikke fremmed her i Danmark, men jeg er heller ikke dansk. Jeg vil bare gerne se min søn blive en mand.

My family doesn’t live nearby, so being a single mother and ill is sometimes too much to handle. My son actually thought that I worked at the hospital because I have to go there for dialysis treatment three times a week. When I was young I didn’t reflect on the meaning of life. After I became ill I have become more religious. My mother showed me the way. Her last lesson to me was to be grateful for life and to hope. She died in December after having been diagnosed with liver cancer only three months previously. Life can be really tough, but there is always hope ahead, and I know that one day I will get a call from the hospital announcing that they have a kidney for me. I am not foreign here in Denmark, but I am not Danish either. I really just want my son to become a man.

28 år / kvinde / enlig / barn / sygemeldt / Søborg / fra Somalia / kom til Danmark i 2006 / opholdstilladelse i 2007

28 years / female / single / child / sick leave / Søborg / from Somalia / came to Denmark in 2006 / residence permit in 2007


Jan Pêt Khorto Jeg følte mig mere fremmed i Syrien, end jeg gør her. Der blev jeg afvist af både regeringen, kurderne og oppositionen. Kurderne hadede mig, fordi jeg ikke gik nok op i den kurdiske sag. Oppositionen hadede mig, fordi jeg ikke mener, at Syriens problemer alene kan løses ved at udskifte regeringen. Og regeringen hadede mig, fordi jeg var kritisk. Jeg levede allerede i eksil, så idéen om at vende hjem giver ikke mening for mig. Hjem er ikke nødvendigvis der, hvor man er født, men der, hvor man føler sig fri. Gennem litteraturen har jeg skabt et mentalt rum, som er mit hjem, og som jeg kan søge ind i uanset, hvor i verden jeg er. Jeg arbejdede som journalist i Syrien, men blev smidt ud af universitetet på grund af min politiske aktivisme. Jeg tilbragte 107 dage i et fængsel i Damaskus, hvor jeg gentagne gange fik brækket mine fingre under forhør. De dage blev et vendepunkt i mit liv, og jeg besluttede, at ingen nogensinde igen skulle bestemme over mig. Jeg er interesseret i emner som islamofobi, orientalisme og occidentalisme. Jeg vil forstå vores tid i lyset af historien, og jeg vil arbejde kunstnerisk og videnskabeligt på at ændre det vestlige syn på orienten og omvendt.

Dengang Nietzsche erklærede Gud for død, begyndte folk at tale om ting, de ikke før havde talt om. På samme måde ønsker jeg at inspirere til, at nye samtaler kan opstå, og fikserede verdensbilleder ændres. Jeg skriver for at sætte ord på de ting, folk ikke tør tale om.

I actually felt more foreign in Syria than I do here. In Syria I was rejected not only by the government but also by the Kurds and the opposition. The Kurds hated me because I did not engage sufficiently in the Kurdish cause. The opposition hated me because I did not believe that Syria’s problems could be solved simply by replacing the government. And the government hated me because I was constantly critical of it. As I already lived in exile, returning home is not even an option and it has no meaning. Home is not necessarily where you are born, but where you feel free. Through my literature, I have created a mental space, which is my home, and which I can enter regardless of where in the world I am. I worked as a journalist in Syria, but I was expelled from university because of my political activities. I spent 107 days in a prison in Damascus, where my fingers were repeatedly broken during interrogation. Those days became the turning point of my life, and I made a pact with myself that nobody would ever use their power to control me again. I am interested in subjects like Islamophobia, Orientalism and Occidentalism. I want to understand these times in the light of history, and I intend to work artistically and scientifically to change the Western view of the Orient and vice versa.

When Nietzsche declared that God was dead, people started talking about things they had never previously talked about. In the same way I aim to inspire a new debate and create a dialogue which can change established world views. I write to put words to the things people are afraid to talk about.

30 år / mand / i et forhold / forfatter og statskundskabsstuderende / København NV / fra Syrien / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 2009 / opholdstilladelse i 2010

30 years / male / in a relationship / writer and political science student / Copenhagen NV / from Syria / Kurdish background / came to Denmark in 2009 / residence permit in 2010


Kaziwa Anamaghi Jeg er 90% fremmed. Man mister sin identitet på grund af sproget. I Irak var jeg en dygtig studerende, som det kurdiske samfund kunne være stolt af, men her bliver jeg set som en dum indvandrerkvinde, fordi jeg ikke behersker sproget fuldstændigt.

I’m 90% foreign. You lose your identity because of the language. In Iraq I was a bright student, one who the Kurdish community could be proud of, but here I am regarded a stupid immigrant woman because I don’t master the language perfectly.

Jeg er medlem af Kurdistans feministparti og kæmper for at vække kvinderne i mit samfund. Vi kalder det, som vi står for, ‘postmoderne feminisme’. Vi kæmper ikke bare som socialisterne mod kapitalismen eller som nationalisterne mod regeringen for et selvstændigt Kurdistan. Vi prøver at dække alle områder, for kurdiske kvinder ligger under for forskellige former for undertrykkelse, som hænger sammen på komplekse måder. Vi har ikke ret til at arbejde eller uddanne os i bestemte områder, vi har ikke et land, og vi ligger under for en undertrykkende religion. På grund af islamiske regler i Iran mistede jeg mine to døtre, da jeg for 15 år siden blev skilt fra deres far. Efter det begyndte jeg at undersøge mit samfund. Hvad sker der med kvinder, når de bliver skilt? Jeg researchede på kvindelig omskæring. Jeg begyndte at kæmpe.

I am a member of the Kurdish feminist party where we try to raise the awareness of the women in my community. We represent postmodern feminism. We are not just fighting as socialists against capitalism or as nationalists against the government for an independent Kurdistan. We try to cover all aspects, because Kurdish women succumb to different forms of oppression, all of which are interlinked in complex ways. There are certain sectors and subjects where we are prohibited to work or study, we don’t have a country, and we are subject to an oppressive religion. When I divorced my husband 15 years ago, I lost my daughters due to the Islamic rules in Iran. That is when I started to examine my community. What happens to women who divorce? I researched female genital mutilation. I started to fight.

I Mellemøsten bliver feminister betragtet som hekse, men jeg var ligeglad. Jeg ville være anderledes. Jeg ville udvikle mig og blive én, som mine døtre kunne være stolt af.

Feminists in the Middle East are regarded as witches, but I didn’t care. I wanted to be different, to develop myself and to become someone who my daughters could be proud of.

Selvom de er vokset op med deres fars værdier, ved de, at hvis de bliver undertrykt, så har de én, som støtter dem, og det er mig.

Even though they have grown up with their father’s values, they know that if they ever become victims of oppression, they have someone who will support them, and that is me.

40 år / i et forhold / børn i Iran / psykologi- og pædagogikstuderende / Roskilde / fra Iran / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 2010 / opholdstilladelse i 2011

40 years / couple / children in Iran / psychology and pedagogy student / Roskilde / from Iran / Kurdish background / came to Denmark in 2010 / residence permit in 2011


Elhan Risaan Abdulahi Jeg har det godt i Danmark og føler mig ikke fremmed. Jeg savner mine søskende og den måde, vi plejer at være sammen på. Vi driller hinanden, laver sjov og er tætte. Efterhånden har jeg også fået gode venner i Danmark, som er her for mig, og det glæder mig, at de skal være en del af min søns liv. Jeg er en bestemt kvinde, der ikke bryder sig om, at andre forsøger at bestemme over mig, og det er i virkeligheden grunden til, at jeg er i Danmark. Jeg boede sammen med min far og mine søskende i Somalia, gik i skole og spillede basket. Men i Somalia kan det give problemer at spille basket som kvinde. Nederdelene, som vi spiller i, dækker ikke anklerne, og det forarger nogle grupper i befolkningen, der opfatter det som haram, syndigt, at kvinder dyrker sport. Min far var bekymret for mig og bad mig stoppe, men jeg var ligeglad.

På mit ben har jeg et stort ar. Det fik jeg, fordi jeg blev ved med at spille basket. Jeg blev fanget af Al-Shabaab, der hældte kogende vand ud over mit ben som straf for, hvad de betragtede som min syndige opførsel. På hospitalet mente lægerne først, at benet skulle amputeres, men jeg var heldig. Min far sendte mig ud af landet, for det var for farligt at blive. Jeg tog til Etiopien, hvor min onkel bor, og han hjalp mig videre til Danmark. Her spiller jeg basket i Falkon. Man skal passe på sig selv, men man skal ikke passe så meget på, at man lader andre diktere, hvordan man skal leve sit liv.

26 år / kvinde / enlig / barn / går på sprogskole / Frederiksberg / fra Somalia / kom til Danmark i 2012 / opholdstilladelse 2013

I feel good in Denmark and I don’t feel foreign. I miss my brothers and sisters, though, and the way things used to be when we were still together in Somalia. We would tease each other, have fun, and just be close. Gradually I have made some friends here in Denmark, who are here for me, and I am happy that they will be part of my son’s life. I am a strong-minded woman, and I hate it when others try to take decisions on my behalf as to what I should do. This I suppose is the reason why I am in Denmark. I lived in Somalia with my father and my brothers and sisters, I went to school and I played basket. But in Somalia, being a female basket player can easily create problems. The skirts we play in do not cover the ankles, and this offends some groups of the population, who consider it haram, sinful, that women even engage in sport. My father became worried and asked me to stop, but I wouldn’t listen.

I have a large scar on my leg. I got it because I carried on with basket. I was detained by Al-Shabaab, who poured boiling water on my leg as punishment for what they define as a sinful behaviour. The doctors at the hospital thought that the leg had to be amputated at first, but I was really lucky. However, this incident convinced my father to send me out of the country. It was too dangerous for me to stay there. I managed to get to Ethiopia where my uncle lives, and he helped me to travel to Denmark. Here I play basket in Falkon. You have to look after yourself, but you shouldn’t be so careful that you let others dictate to you how to live your life.

26 years / female / single / child / language school student / Frederiksberg / from Somalia / came to Denmark in 2012 / residence permit in 2013


Mohammed Zaki Samir Abara Jeg er ikke fremmed, men jeg er heller ikke dansker. Jeg synes, at den danske regering skal blive bedre til at se ‘problemerne’ med udlændinge oppefra. Især når vi taler om problemet med ghettodannelser. I Danmark er det muslimer fra Mellemøsten, som får skylden, i USA er det de sorte, og i Syrien er det palæstinenserne. Hvis alle mennesker i samfundet blev behandlet ens, ville man slet ikke have det her ’problem’.

I am not foreign, but neither am I Danish. I think that the Danish government should improve the way they address “problems” with foreigners, especially when they speak about ghettoisation. In Denmark it is always the Muslims from the Middle East who are to blame. In the United States, the blacks are blamed, and in Syria it is the Palestinians. But I am sure that if everyone in the community was treated alike, you wouldn’t have this “problem”.

I 2014 ændrede mit liv sig drastisk, da min far pludselig forsvandt i Syrien. En dag kunne jeg ikke få fat på ham her fra Danmark, og jeg vidste bare, at der var noget galt. Efter den oplevelse blev jeg et helt andet menneske.

In 2014 my father suddenly disappeared in Syria, and my life changed overnight. One day I just couldn’t get hold of him from Denmark, and I knew that something was wrong. After that experience, I became a completely different person.

Jeg var forlovet, da det skete, men vi endte med at gå fra hinanden kort tid efter. Jeg fik en masse helbredsproblemer. Jeg havde tit svært ved at trække vejret og kunne ikke rigtigt spise noget. Da min lærer på sprogskolen fandt ud af, hvad der var sket, sagde hun, at hun gerne ville være min familie her i Danmark, og at jeg ikke skulle føle mig alene. Og det gør jeg faktisk heller ikke. Jeg har mange venner, danske såvel som udenlandske, og selvom jeg tit er den eneste udlænding, både på skolen, i bokseklubben og på arbejdet, føler jeg mig sjældent fremmed. Men mit savn plager mig stadig meget. Især uvisheden gør ondt. Min far har altid været en stor del af mit liv. Mine værdier i dag er baseret på alt, hvad han har lært mig. Han er feminist og tror på, at alle har ret til at blive behandlet ens. Han lærte mig at køre bil, da jeg var 11, gav mig min første lejlighed, da jeg var 16, og da jeg var 18, hjalp han mig med at erhverve mig min første restaurant. Han troede på mig.

28 år / mand / enlig / Vanløse / går i 9. klasse / fra Syrien / kom til Danmark i 2013 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I was engaged to be married when this happened, but we split up soon afterwards. Following this I experienced a lot of health problems. I had difficulties breathing, and I had no appetite. When my teacher at the language school found out what had happened, she said that she could be my family here, and that I should not feel alone. I actually don’t feel alone anymore. I have many friends, Danish as well as other foreigners, and despite my often being the only foreigner at school, at the boxing club, or at my place of work, I rarely feel foreign. But my loss still torments me. The constant uncertainty frays my nerves. My father has always played a big role in my life. My values are based on everything he taught me. He is a feminist and believes that everybody has the right to be treated equally. He taught me how to drive a car when I was 11, he gave me my first apartment when I was 16, and when I was 18 he helped me buy my first restaurant. He believed in me.

28 years / male / single / Vanløse / attends 9th grade / from Syria / came to Denmark in 2013 / residence permit same year


Jandill Bshar Jeg var en kurder i Syrien, og nu er jeg en kurdisk syrer i Danmark. Jeg er vant til at føle mig fremmed. Jeg har aldrig prøvet andet, så for mig er det normen.

I was a Kurd in Syria and now I am a Kurdish Syrian in Denmark. I am used to feeling foreign. I never tried anything else, so for me that is the norm.

Jeg tog fra Syrien alene. Som militærnægter havde jeg levet i skjul længe, men jeg vidste, at det kun var et spørgsmål om tid, før de ville finde mig. Derfor valgte jeg at flygte til Europa, men jeg endte med at sidde fast i Grækenland. Her sad jeg et halvt år i fængsel, fordi jeg ikke havde nogen papirer. De seks måneder var de værste i mit liv. Vi levede som sild i en tønde og fik kun gammel, muggen mad. Jeg ville nok stadig have siddet der, hvis ikke det var for en fremmed mand, som jeg mødte derinde. Jeg hjalp ham med at skjule sine penge, mens han sad inde, og som tak skaffede han mig den juridiske hjælp, som jeg havde brug for. Da jeg endelig kom væk fra Grækenland, blev jeg stoppet i Københavns Lufthavn. Jeg var rædselsslagen og frygtede, at jeg ville ende i fængsel igen. Men politiet her smilede bare og talte pænt til mig. De spurgte, om jeg var sulten, og om jeg manglede noget, men jeg turde ikke svare.

I left Syria on my own. As a conscientious objector I had lived in hiding for a long time, but I knew that it was only a matter of time before they would find me. So I decided to flee to Europe, where I got stuck in Greece and spent six months in prison because I didn’t have any identity papers. Those six months were the worst of my life. It was like living in a tin of sardines, and food was stale and moldy. I would probably still have been there if it hadn’t been for this man I met in prison. I helped him keep his money safe while he was in prison, and as thanks he helped me get the legal aid that I needed. When I finally left Greece, I was stopped at Copenhagen Airport. I was terrified and was convinced I would go to prison again. But the police just smiled and talked nicely to me. Was I hungry? Did I need this and that? But I was too scared to talk to them.

Efter jeg havde fået ophold, følte jeg mig meget alene. En dag besøgte jeg netværkshuset her i Gentofte, og det blev hurtigt min nye base. Jeg brugte al min fritid her og hadede, når jeg skulle hjem til min tomme lejlighed.

After I got a residence permit I felt very alone. One day I visited the network house here in Gentofte, and it soon became my second home. I used all my spare time here, and I hated returning to my empty flat.

Det var mit job at fikse cyklerne i huset, og det var rart at bidrage med noget. At føle sig nyttig. Men det var først, da jeg mødte min kone, at jeg endelig følte mig hjemme igen. Jeg savner selvfølgelig stadig min familie, men nu er jeg ved at starte min egen familie her.

It was my job to repair the bikes in the house, and it felt nice to be able to contribute with something, to feel useful again. But it wasn’t till I met the woman who was to become my wife that I felt at home again. I miss my own family of course, but I am now starting my own.

27 år / mand / i et forhold / uddannet økonom / håndværker / Gentofte / fra Syrien / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 2013 / opholdstilladelse i 2014

27 years / male / couple / educated economist / craftsman / Gentofte / from Syria / kurdish background / came to Denmark in 2013 / residence permit in 2014


Pablo Parra Jeg kan lide at være her og føler mig mere og mere hjemme dag for dag. Men jeg mangler og savner stadig noget, mest af alt min familie. Hvis man skubber en sten ned fra et bjerg, triller den i et stykke tid, før den stopper. Jeg er stenen, der er på vej. Jeg triller stadig.

I like being here, and day by day I feel more and more at home. But I’m still missing something, most of all my family. If you push a stone from a mountain, it rolls for a while before stopping. I am that stone, still rolling.

Borgerkrigen i Colombia har sat tydelige spor i mit liv. Min far blev kidnappet og dræbt af FARC, da jeg var barn, og som voksen blev jeg tvunget på flugt efter et afpresningsforsøg fra en bevæbnet gruppe. Måske FARC, måske ELN, måske paramilitær. I 15 år levede jeg som flygtning uden papirer i Ecuador. Jeg startede flere virksomheder og vandt en pris for et antikorruptionssystem, der skulle sikre, at buschauffører ikke kunne putte billetpenge direkte i egen lomme uden at blive opdaget. Men på grund af min status som flygtning kunne jeg ikke oprette en bankkonto, og det satte en naturlig stopper for, hvor langt jeg kunne nå med mine projekter. Efter noget tid kuldsejlede de alle, og jeg har måttet starte forfra mange gange. Min ankomst til Danmark markerede endnu en ny start, forhåbentlig den sidste. Jeg drømmer om et almindeligt liv. Jeg ønsker mig min egen virksomhed i Danmark og muligheden for ind imellem at rejse til mit hjemland.

The civil war in Colombia has taken its toll on my life. My father was kidnapped and killed by FARC when I was a child, and as an adult I was forced to flee after an extortion attempt by an armed group. Maybe FARC, maybe ELN, maybe paramilitary. For 15 years I lived as a refugee without papers in Ecuador. I started several companies, and I won an award for an anti-corruption system that was to ensure that bus drivers could not put the ticket money directly into their own pockets without being detected. However, due to my status as a refugee, I could not open a bank account, and that put a natural end to how far I could go with my projects. After a while they all capsized, and I have had to start over many times. My arrival in Denmark marked yet another new beginning, hopefully the last. I am dreaming of a normal life where I do not have to start over all the time. I would like to have my own business here in Denmark and occasionally be able to visit my country.

Jeg glæder mig over fredsprocessen i Colombia. Man kan ikke få både retfærdighed og fred. Man må vælge. Og selvom de væbnede grupper har kostet mig dyrt, er jeg ikke i tvivl om, at jeg vælger fred.

37 år / mand / enlig / iværksætter / ansat i Ikea / Gentofte / fra Colombia / kom til Danmark som kvoteflygtning i 2014

I welcome the peace process in Colombia. The Colombians have to choose between justice and peace. We cannot have both, and although the armed groups have cost me dearly, I choose peace.

37 years / male / single / entrepreneur / employee in Ikea / Gentofte / from Colombia / came to Denmark as a quota refugee in 2014


Teweldebrhan Negassi Jeg føler mig hjemme her på nogle måder, men jeg savner også det velkendte i Eritrea. Min familie, mine venner, maden, larmen. I Danmark er der roligt. Der er stille på gaden, og ingen råber. Når man kommer udefra, er det svært at finde sig til rette i stilheden.

In some ways I feel at home here, but I also miss all the familiar in Eritrea. My family, my friends, the food, the noise. In Denmark it is just too quiet. Quiet in the street and nobody shouts. When you come from outside, it can be hard to adjust and feel at ease in the silence.

Når man er færdig med 12. klasse i Eritrea, skal man i militæret. Der er værnepligt for alle mænd og kvinder. I udgangspunktet varer den 18 måneder, men min far kom i militæret under krigen med Etiopien i 1998 og er der stadig.

When you have finished 12th grade in Eritrea, you have to sign up for military. Military service is compulsory for men and women alike. As a rule it lasts for 18 months, but my father joined the military during the war with Ethiopia, and he is still there.

Værnepligten i Eritrea er blevet en form for tvangsarbejde, som man ikke ved, hvornår slutter. Derfor flygtede jeg den dag, jeg fik papirerne fra militæret.

Conscription in Eritrea has turned into a sort of slave labour, and one does not know when it is going to end. That is why I fled the day I received the call up papers from the military.

Jeg har to søskende i Tyskland, som er flygtet af samme grund. Som situationen er, har vi ingen fremtid i Eritrea, så nu forsøger jeg at skabe mig et liv her. Jeg vil gerne være møbelsnedker eller i hvert fald arbejde med træ, som jeg gjorde i Eritrea. Jeg går i kirke om søndagen, beder til Gud og tror på, at alt nok skal gå. Min tro er vigtig for mig. Religionen er mit liv. Den er den, jeg er, mine værdier og mit væsen.

23 år / mand / enlig / går på produktionsskole / Hårlev / fra Eritrea / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse i 2015

I have two siblings in Germany, both of which fled Eritrea for the very same reason. As things stand we have no future in Eritrea, so I try to create a new life here. I want to be a cabinet maker or at least work with wood in some way, like I did in Eritrea. I attend church on Sundays, pray to God, and feel confident that everything will be alright. My faith is important to me. Religion has become my life. It is what I am, my values and my being.

23 years / male / single / attends production college / Hårlev / from Eritrea / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit in 2015


Tedros Haile Teclemariam Det første år her følte jeg mig 100% fremmed, men nu går det bedre. Før boede min kone i Eritrea, og jeg bekymrede mig meget om hende. Nu er hun her, og så har jeg det meget bedre.

The first year here, I feel 100% foreign, but it’s better now. Before my wife lived in Eritrea, and I was very worried about her. Now she is here with me, and I feel much better.

På nogle måder plager min flugt mig stadig. Især bådturen over Middelhavet. På halvvejen gik motoren ud, og i 10 timer troede jeg, at mit liv var ovre.

In some ways my escape still torments me. Especially the boat trip across the Mediterranean. We were halfway across when the motor stopped, and for the next ten hours I thought that my life was over.

Da den italienske kystvagt fandt os, var det som at blive født på ny. Jeg følte, at jeg fik en ny chance i livet. Men de tre dage, hvor 200 mennesker måtte leve uden mad, var forfærdelige.

When the Italian coast guard found us, it was like being born again. I felt that I had been given a second chance in life. But the three days at sea when two hundred people had to live without any food were gruesome.

Kvinder og børn, der græd af sult. Der var især en kvinde, som jeg ofte tænker på. Hun var omkring syv måneder henne i hendes graviditet, men hun endte med at føde på vej til båden. Hendes barn var dødfødt og vi måtte begrave det i sandet. Selvom hun var meget svækket, valgte vi at tage hende med os om bord på båden. Synet af den stakkels ulykkelige kvinde og lydene af grædende børn glemmer jeg aldrig. Jeg kan godt lide at se National Geographic, for det minder mig om, at alle kæmper for overlevelse og for deres families ve og vel. Men der er stor forskel på vores kampe. Kampen for en almindelig dansker er meget anderledes, end den er for os. I Eritrea lever man under et diktatur og mangler basale menneskerettigheder samt frihed til selv at vælge. Her lever folk i overflod og er frie til at gøre, hvad de vil. Og efter min mening er frihed altafgørende for et menneskes lykke.

33 år / mand / i et forhold / Hellerup / går på sprogskole / fra Eritrea / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse i 2015

Women and children cried from hunger. There was one woman, whom I often think about. During my first year in Denmark I felt 100% foreign, but it is much better now. My wife still lived in Eritrea during this period and I worried about her a lot. Now that she is here, I feel a lot better. Her child was dead on arrival and we had to bury it in the sand. We chose to bring her with us on the boat, even though she was very weak. I will never forget the sight of this poor heartbroken woman, nor the sounds of crying children. I enjoy watching National Geographic because it reminds me that everybody is struggling for survival and for their family’s survival and welfare. But there is of course a huge difference between refugees and Danes. The struggles of ordinary Danes are very different from our struggles. In Eritrea, where you must live under a dictatorship, there are no basic human rights nor freedom of choice. Here you live in a state of abundance, and you are free to do whatever you want. In my opinion, freedom is essential for anyone’s personal happiness.

33 years / male / in a relationship / Hellerup / language school student / from Eritrea / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit in 2015


Yasser Saied Oman Jeg føler mig sikker. Mens man flygter, tænker man ikke på andet end at komme i sikkerhed. Man når slet ikke at tænke på, hvad man har efterladt. Det er først, når man endelig er i sikkerhed, at det går op for en. Det ramte mig cirka to måneder efter, at jeg var kommet til Danmark. Den første nat i min nye lejlighed følte jeg, at jeg endelig var nået i mål, men så ramte følelserne mig. Jeg følte mig som en plante, der var skåret af ved rødderne. Og nu kæmper jeg for at lade dem gro ud igen. I Syrien arbejdede jeg for en hjælpeorganisation som fotograf. Jeg tog billeder af deres arbejde, men også af krigens ofre. Det hjalp mig til at se krigen fra forskellige perspektiver. Jeg er meget kunstnerisk og elsker at tegne, male og skrive. Jeg skriver poesi og er begyndt at skrive en historie om, hvorfor man flygter, og hvordan man har det efter, at man er flygtet. Jeg tror, at det hjælper mig med at bearbejde alt det, jeg har oplevet undervejs.

Min stedfar synes, at jeg svigter mit land, fordi jeg ikke blev i Syrien og kæmpede. Men efter min mening har Syrien ikke brug for flere, der skyder. De har brug for uddannede folk, som kan hjælpe med at bygge landet op igen. Da jeg først kom hertil, virkede alt så håbløst. Alt var nyt og kompliceret. Men nu føler jeg igen håb. Jeg ser mange muligheder her. Jeg kunne godt tænke mig at læse fysik, ligesom jeg gjorde i Syrien. For mig er fysik ikke kun logik. Det er mere en følelse. Man skal fornemme det. Men jeg ved jo ikke, hvad fremtiden byder, så jeg tager tingene, som de kommer.

25 år / mand / i et forhold / går på sprogskole / Glostrup / fra Syrien / palæstinensisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I feel safe. While you flee, you think of nothing else but getting to a safe place. There is no time to think about what you have left behind. You don’t think of that until you are finally safe. This hit me about two months after I arrived in Denmark. The first night after I had moved into my own flat, I finally felt that I had reached my goal, and I was overcome by feelings. I felt like a plant whose roots have been cut off. Now I really try and let them grow once again. In Syria I worked as a photographer for an aid organisation. I took photos of their work, but also of the victims of the war. It helped me see the war from different perspectives. I am very artistic, and I love to draw, paint and write. I write poetry and have started writing a novel about why you flee and how you feel after you have fled. I believe it helps me deal with all the things I experienced along the way.

My stepfather thinks that I let my country down because I did not stay in Syria and fight. But in my opinion Syria doesn’t need more people who shoot. They need educated people who can help rebuild the country. When I first arrived here, everything seemed so hopeless. Everything was new and complicated. But now I hope once again. I see many opportunities here. I would like to study physics just as I did in Syria. For me physics is not just logic. It is more like a feeling. You have to sense it. One doesn’t know at all what the future will bring, so I take things as they come.

25 years / male / in a relationship / attends language school / Glostrup / from Syria / Palestinian background / came to Denmark 2014 / residence permit same year


Eyad Dahbour Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed. Jeg kendte til Danmark, inden jeg kom hertil. Jeg vidste, at her er mange vindmøller og tænkte derfor, at jobmulighederne nok var rimelige. Jeg vidste, at det danske samfund er et velfærdssamfund, og så kendte jeg og kunne lide historien om vikingerne. Pludselig var de over det hele. Stærke mennesker med stor energi, som fik ting til at ske!

I don’t feel foreign. I knew about Denmark before I came here. I knew that there were many windmills, and I therefore figured that my chances of a job were fair. I also knew that the Danish society is a welfare society, and I knew, and liked, the story of the Vikings. Suddenly they were all over the place. Strong people with great energy, who made things happen.

Jeg er 100% hurtig til alting. Jeg har mange tanker og mange bekymringer. Mine hænder ryster. Jeg handler mere, end jeg taler. I marts 2014 var jeg i Grækenland og skulle krydse grænsen til Makedonien, men det var svært. I halvanden måned sov jeg i skoven med intet andet end det tøj, jeg havde på. De sidste to dage regnede det nærmest uafbrudt. Min fætter holdt bryllup i Syrien, og tanken om, at jeg hverken var der eller på vej noget sted hen, gjorde mig vred og frustreret, så jeg blev ved med at prøve.

I’m 100% quick at everything I do. I have many thoughts and also many worries. My hands shake. I act more than I talk. In March 2014 I was in Greece and wanted to cross the border to Macedonia, but it was tough. For six weeks I slept in the forest with nothing but the clothes I wore. The last two days it rained non-stop. My cousin was getting married in Syria, and the thought of neither being there nor on the way elsewhere made me angry and frustrated, so I continued to try.

I løbet af to dage havde jeg 38 mislykkede forsøg på at krydse grænsen, som alle endte med, at jeg blev sendt tilbage. Det var dumt og irrationelt at blive ved, men jeg kunne ikke lade være, og i 39. forsøg lykkedes det.

I had 38 failed attempts to cross the border, all of which ended with me being sent back. It was stupid and irrational to carry on trying, but I couldn’t help it, and in my 39th attempt I succeeded.

Senere lykkedes det mig at komme til Danmark, men jeg har stadig en rastløshed i mig. Jeg tager afsted tidligt om morgenen og kommer sent hjem. Jeg drømmer om at komme ind på ingeniøruddannelsen i mekatronik på Syddansk Universitet i Sønderborg, så jeg kan komme til at arbejde med mit fag. Det betyder ikke noget, om jeg får merit. Jeg vil bare i gang.

23 år / mand / enlig / uddannet mekatroniktekniker / værkstedsassistent / Frederiksberg / fra Syrien / palæstinensisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse samme år

Later I managed to get to Denmark, but I still have this restlessness inside me. I leave early in the morning and come home late at night. I dream about getting into the engineering course at the University of Southern Denmark in Sønderborg, so I can work with my profession. It doesn’t matter if I don’t earn credits. I just want to get started.

23 years / male / single / mecatronichs technician / workshop assistant / Frederiksberg / from Syria / Palestinian background / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit same year


Souline Ahmed Før jeg blev gift, boede jeg sammen med min familie på Lolland, og der følte jeg mig faktisk hjemme. Nu bor jeg i København med min mand, og selvom jeg føler mig hjemme hos ham, så kan jeg godt være lidt ensom. Min far er skrædder, og i Syrien er det et hårdt arbejde med lav status. Så han har altid insisteret på, at hans børn skulle have en god uddannelse. Min drøm er at blive læge. Derfor valgte jeg i en tidlig alder, at jeg ikke ville giftes, før jeg var færdig med min uddannelse. Som kurder i Syrien forventes det, at jeg er gravid et år efter, at ægteskabet er indgået, og derefter er min rolle at passe børnene. Men tingene ændrede sig, da jeg kom til Danmark. Her kan man stadig studere, selvom man er gift og har familie. Så da jeg mødte min mand som 18-årig, valgte jeg at gifte mig med ham. Før vi blev gift, lovede min mand, at han ville støtte mig i mit ønske om at få en god uddannelse.

Vi valgte at vente med at få børn, indtil jeg var halvvejs igennem min uddannelse. Men nu er jeg gravid. Jeg er glad, for jeg vil rigtig gerne have en familie, men jeg er også lidt nervøs for, hvilken betydning det kommer til at have for mine studier. Jeg er en stærk kvinde, og jeg tror, at min vilje vil tage mig langt. Det hjælper også, at hele min familie støtter mig. Selvom jeg elsker min familie, har jeg altid godt kunnet lide at være alene. Jeg elsker at læse, især romaner med stærke kvinder. Deres historier inspirerer og motiverer mig til at gøre det bedre.

19 år / kvinde / i et forhold / går på sprogskole / Gentoft /fra Syrien / kurdisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse samme år

Before I married, I lived on Lolland together with my family, and I really felt at home there. I now live in Copenhagen with my husband, and even though I feel at home with him, I can still feel rather lonely. My father is a tailor, and in Syria it is a tough occupation with a low salary and status. He has always insisted that his children should have a good education. My dream is to become a doctor of medicine. I was quite young when I decided that I didn’t want to get married until I had finished my education. As a Kurdish woman in Syria, you are expected to become pregnant within a year of being married, and then your role is to look after the children. But here in Denmark it is still possible to study even if you are married and have started a family. So when I met my husband, I was 18, and I decided to marry him. Before we married, my husband promised me that he would support me in my wish to get a good education.

We decided to wait with children till I was halfway through my education. But now I am already pregnant. I am delighted, because I really do want a family, but I am also a bit nervous about the effect it may have on my studies. I am a strong willed woman, and I trust that this will see me through. It also helps a lot that my entire family supports me. Even though I do love my family, I have always liked to be alone. I love to read, especially novels with strong women as lead characters. Their stories inspire and motivate me.

19 years / female / in a relationship / Gentofte / attends language school / from Syria / Kurdish background / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit same year


Samira Khalifa Jeg har haft svært ved at føle mig hjemme her, for jeg måtte kæmpe meget med udlændingestyrelsen. De har gjort det svært for mig at samle min familie, og derfor føles det stadig ikke som om jeg er i sikkerhed. Jeg vil ikke kunne finde ro før min familie er samlet igen.

I have found it very difficult to feel at home here because it’s been a constant struggle with the Danish Immigration Service. They have made it difficult for me to bring my family together, so I still don’t feel at all safe. I cannot find peace of mind until we’re all together again.

For seks år siden forsvandt min mand. Nogle sagde at han blev ramt af en bombe, andre at han var taget til fange. Jeg tror han er død. Pludselig stod jeg alene i et krigshærget land og skulle passe på vores tre sønner. Aleppo blev hårdt ramt. Vi var ikke kun bange for at dø, men også for at blive kidnappet. Min søn blev bortført, men gudskelov fandt vi ham senere bevidstløs i en rendesten. Han var en af de få, der kom tilbage, og det er jeg dybt taknemmelig for. Efter den oplevelse måtte vi ud af Syrien. Vi flygtede til Tyrkiet, men min ældste søn kunne ikke komme ud af Aleppo. De spærrede byen af før han nåede at flygte. Derfor kom han ikke med os.

Six years ago my husband disappeared. Some people said he’s been hit by a bomb, others that he had been taken prisoner. Myself, I believe he’s dead. Suddenly I was on my own in a war-stricken country and had to look after our three sons. Aleppo was extremely hit hard. We weren’t just afraid of dying but also of being abducted. My son was taken, but thank God we later found him, collapsed in the gutter. He was one of the few to return, and I’m deeply grateful for that. After that experience I decided we just had to leave Syria. We fled to Turkey. But my oldest son was still caught in Aleppo. Before he managed to escape they blocked off the whole city so you could no longer get in or out. That’s the reason he never travelled with us.

I to år var min søn indespærret i Aleppo. Det føltes som en langsom død. Nu er han i Tyrkiet og venter på at blive familiesammenført. Jeg kan ikke trække vejret før han er tilbage hos mig. Jeg kommer ikke videre i mit liv, før jeg ved at han er i sikkerhed. Før krigen i Syrien brugte jeg meget tid på at gå i teatret, at høre musik og se film. Jeg er en meget kulturelt interesseret og meget social, men i min nuværende situation og pga. sprog har jeg svært ved at finde ligesindede. Jeg håber at jeg vil kunne komme videre med mit liv når min familie er samlet igen. Jeg har også brug for at sørge over tabet af min mand, og tabet af mit liv i Syrien.

53 år / kvinde / enlig / børn / går på sprogskole / Frederiksberg / fra Syrien / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse samme år

My son was trapped in Aleppo for two years. It felt like a slow death. He’s finally in Turkey now waiting for family reunification. I can’t breathe normally until he’s back with me. It’s impossible for me to get on with my life until I know he’s safe. Before the war in Syria, I spent a lot of time going to the theatre, listening to music and watching movies. I’m a very social and culturally minded person, but my current situation and the language issue means it has been difficult to find like-minded people with the same interests. I hope to get on with my life once the whole family is back together again. I also need time to grieve for the loss of my husband and the loss of my life in Syria.

53 year / female / single / children / attends language school / Frederiksberg / from Syria / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit same year


Lilas Hatahet Jeg er 100% syrer, og det er jeg stolt af. Jeg mener ikke, at jeg skal være 100% dansk for at være velintegreret.

I am 100% Syrian and proud of it. I don’t think I have to be 100% Danish in order to be well-integrated.

Ting har altid betydet meget for mig. Da jeg var studievært i Syrien, var det vigtigt, at jeg tog mig godt ud. Jeg kunne tit finde på at bruge halvdelen af min løn på en lækker taske eller et par fantastiske sko. Da jeg flygtede fra Syrien, tog jeg kun de mest nødvendige ting med, og så tre par stilletter. Det kan godt være, at jeg var en flygtning, men jeg var stadig mig. Når man mister alt, ændrer man sit syn på materielle ting. Jeg har to gange måttet forlade mit hjem. Jeg mistede ikke kun mine ting, men også alle de minder og fremtidsdrømme, der var forbundet med dem. Da jeg fik min nuværende bolig for et halvt år siden, besluttede jeg, at det skulle være mit og mine børns hjem. Tanken gjorde mig glad, men den fyldte mig også med angst. Jeg frygter, at vi endnu engang vil blive tvunget til at flygte. Jeg frygter sorgen ved at miste alt. Derfor er jeg bange for at slå rødder.

Material things have always been important to me. As a former TV presenter it was important for me to have a nice appearance. I would often spend half of my wages on a cool handbag or a pair of fantastic shoes. When I fled Syria I only took the most necessary things with me, and three pairs of stilettos. I might be a refugee, but I was still me. When you lose everything, your view on materialistic things change completely. I have had to abandon my home twice. I did not only lose all my belongings, but also all the memories and dreams of the future associated with them. When I moved into my present home, about six months ago, I decided that this was to be our home. The thought of it made me happy, but it also filled me with fear. I fear that we might once again be forced to flee, but most of all I fear the grief associated with losing everything. So I am afraid to put down roots.

Mange siger, at jeg skal se på min situation som en form for genfødsel, hvor jeg får mulighed for at starte på en frisk. Men jeg ser mere på det som en blodig abort. Jeg fik revet livet ud af mig, dengang jeg måtte flygte fra Syrien.

Many people tell me that I should see my situation as a sort of rebirth, where I get the opportunity to start afresh. I see it more like a bloody abortion. My life was ripped out of me when I had to flee from Syria.

Det var blodigt og dystert, og nu står jeg så her og skal starte på ny med et åbent og positivt sind. Men jeg har slået rødder. På de to år, jeg har været her, har jeg fået nogle fantastiske venner, som har støttet mig helt utroligt meget.

It was bloody and gloomy, and now I stand here and I must start anew with an open and positive mind. I have put down roots, though, and in the two years I have been here, I have made fantastic friends who have supported me such a lot.

37 år / kvinde / enlig / børn / uddannet teaterkritiker / arbejder som journalist / Nivå / fra Syrien / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse samme år

37 years / female / single / children / trained theatre critic / works as a journalist / Nivå / from Syria / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit same year


Manal Bashir Tahhan Jeg er 100% flygtning. Selvom jeg har fået asyl, er min fremtid her stadig usikker. De seneste otte måneder har mine børn siddet i Asylcenter Roskilde og ventet på at få svar fra Udlændingestyrelsen. Vi flygtede nemlig ikke sammen. Selvom jeg var bange, da jeg flygtede, var deres flugt den værste. Båden, de tog, kæntrede i Middelhavet. I 10 dage hørte jeg ikke fra dem. Jeg troede, at de var omkommet. Jeg fik tilsendt billeder af døde børn for at se, om jeg kunne identificere dem. Efter 10 dage ringede de. Jeg kunne dårligt nok tro det. Den lykkeligste dag i mit liv var, da jeg blev genforenet med min familie. Og jeg tænker, at den dag, de får asyl, næsten vil være lige så fantastisk.

I am 100% refugee. Even though I now have asylum, my future here is still uncertain. The last eight months my children have been in the asylum centre Roskilde waiting to get an answer from the immigration office. We did not flee together. Although I was scared when I fled, their flight was definitely the worst. The boat they took sank in the Mediterranean sea. For 10 days I didn’t hear from them at all. I thought that they had drowned as so many others did. Pictures of dead children were sent to me to see if I could identify any of them. After 10 days they called. I could not believe it. The happiest day of my life was when I was reunited with my family. And I assume that the day they are given asylum will be just as fantastic.

Jeg blev gift som 16-årig i et arrangeret ægteskab og fik mit første barn, da jeg var 17. Jeg havde derfor ingen ungdom, og jeg følte mig meget begrænset i mit ægteskab. Den kultur kan jeg overhovedet ikke identificere mig med.

I was married at the age of 16 in an arranged marriage, and I had my first child when I was 17. Therefore I did not have a youth and I felt limited in my marriage. I cannot identify myself with this culture.

Jeg havde et år uden begrænsninger, før min mand kom hertil, og på det år fandt jeg mig selv. Min mand har haft svært ved denne omstilling, og vi skændes derfor meget. Men jeg nægter at gå tilbage til den person, som jeg var før. Nu rejser jeg rundt i verden og deltager i diverse konferencer om flygtninge. Jeg har engageret mig i en masse frivillige organisationer, hvor jeg arbejder for en større forståelse mellem de forskellige nationaliteter og kulturer her i Danmark. Jeg har blandt andet inviteret folk på syriske måltider i mit hjem. Jeg er glad, og det føler jeg, at jeg fortjener.

41 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / receptionist / Birkerød / fra Syrien / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I had one year with no restrains before my husband came here, and during this period I feel like I found myself. Adapting to this has not been easy for my husband, and therefore we argue a lot. But I refuse to be the person I was before. Now I travel the world and participate in conferences concerning refugees. I am engaged in a lot of NGOs, where I work for a better integration and a better understanding between the different nationalities and cultures here in Denmark. Amongst other things I have invited people to Syrian dinners. I am happy and I feel like I deserve it.

41 years / woman / in a relationship / children / receptionist / Birkerød / from Syria / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit same year


Ahmad Saleh Jeg er 100% fremmed. Jeg ville ønske, at Danmark havde givet mig en chance i stedet for at dømme mig, før de overhovedet havde lært mig at kende. Jeg var kommet meget hurtigere frem, hvis kommunen ville lade være med at lægge så mange forhindringer på min vej.

I am 100% foreign. I wish that Denmark had given me a chance instead of judging me before they even got to know me. I would have developed much faster if the municipality would stop placing so many obstacles on my way.

Siden jeg kom til Danmark for to år siden, har jeg haft seks sagsbehandlere. Jeg er blevet kastet rundt i systemet og er ikke blevet behandlet som et menneske. Jeg har tabt 20 kg på grund af stress. Basketball har været mit tilflugtssted.

Since arriving in Denmark two years ago, I have had six caseworkers assigned. I have been thrown around in the system and not been treated as a human being. I have lost 20 kilos due to stress. Basketball has been my refuge.

For et år siden meldte jeg mig som som frivillig basketballtræner for børn. Det var første gang siden, at jeg kom hertil, at jeg følte mig som et menneske igen. Børnene ser deres træner ‘Ahmad’, når de kigger på mig, og ikke en flygtning.

About a year ago, I volunteered as a basketball coach for a team of children. It was the first time since arriving in Denmark that I felt like a human being again. When the kids look at me, they see their coach “Ahmad” and not a refugee.

Forældrene har også spillet en stor rolle i mit liv. Det er gennem dem, at jeg endelig har fået et godt job. Det er også deres skyld, at jeg igen føler mig værdsat. Jeg husker tydeligt, da et dansk forældrepar bad mig følge deres femårige datter hjem. De stolede på mig og vidste, at jeg nok skulle passe på hende. Det var, som om jeg havde vundet en million den dag. Jeg tror, at integration i Danmark ville gå meget bedre, hvis flygtninge blev set som potentielle aktiver for landet i stedet for som en byrde.

26 år / mand / enlig / støttepædagog / Værløse / fra Syrien / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse samme år

The parents have also played a big role in my life. It is through them that I finally got a good job. And it is also due to them that I feel appreciated again. I will never forget when some Danish parents asked me to see their 5-year old daughter home. They trusted me and knew I would look after her. It was like winning the jackpot. I think integration in Denmark would function much better if refugees were viewed as potential assets rather than as a burden.

26 years / male / single / support teacher / Værløse / from Syria / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit same year


Anonym Jeg er 100% syrer. Jeg tror aldrig, at jeg vil føle mig dansk. Folk vil altid spørge mig, hvor jeg kommer fra.

I am 100% Syrian. I don’t think I will ever feel Danish. People will always ask me where I come from.

Jeg flygtede alene til Danmark som 14-årig. Mine forældre var kendte aktivister, og derfor kunne vi alle blive afsløret under flugten. Det var helt forfærdeligt at skulle forlade min familie og mit hjemland. Jeg forlod alt det, jeg kendte, og jeg vidste hverken, hvor jeg skulle hen, eller om jeg nogensinde ville se min familie igen. Vi fløj til Algeriet, kørte og gik til Libanon, og så tog vi båden til Italien. Jeg var bange og følte mig alene. Jeg kunne ikke komme i kontakt med min familie undervejs, og det gjorde mig meget ængstelig. Det tog os en måned at komme til Danmark, men når jeg kigger tilbage på min rejse, ved jeg, at jeg var en af de heldige. Der var mange, som forsvandt undervejs. Jeg blev placeret på en døgninstitution. Jeg kunne ikke sproget, og det var ubehageligt, men det tvang mig også til at lære dansk rigtig hurtigt. Jeg sad på mit værelse og lærte mig selv fem verber hver dag. Efter to år blev jeg familiesammenført med mine forældre. Det var uden tvivl den bedste dag i mit liv.

I was 14 years old when I fled on my own to Denmark. My parents were well-known activists, so we could all have been exposed during the escape if they came with me. It was really terrible leaving my family and my homeland. I left everything I knew, and I didn’t know where I was going or whether I would ever see my family again. We flew to Algeria, drove and walked to Lebanon, and from there by boat to Italy. I was scared and I felt completely alone. On the way I wasn’t able to get in touch with my family, and this made me even more anxious. It took us about a month to travel to Denmark, and when I look back at my journey, I know that I was one of the lucky ones. Many disappeared during the journey. On arrival, I was put in a residential institution for children and young people. I couldn’t speak the language, and it was unpleasant, but it also forced me to learn Danish really fast. Every day I would sit in my room and teach myself five verbs. After two years I was reunited with my parents. It was the best day of my life.

Det, at have været på egen hånd fra jeg var 14 til 16, har gjort mig meget selvstændig. Så det har ikke været helt nemt at bo sammen med mine forældre igen. Jeg er vant til at træffe mine egne beslutninger, og selvom der var regler på døgninstitutionen, så er det noget helt andet at være under mine forældres varetægt igen. De har også haft det svært. De har mistet alt, og det er hårdt at se dem skulle starte forfra igen.

17 år / kvinde / enlig / går i 10. Klasse / Birkerød / fra Syrien / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse i 2015

Being on my own from 14 to 16 made me very independent, so it hasn’t been easy living with my parents again. I am used to making my own decisions, and even though they had many rules at the institution, it is quite different being in my parent’s custody again. They also have a hard time. They have lost everything, and it is tough to see them having to start their lives all over again.

17 years / female / single / 10th grade / Birkerød / from Syria / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit in 2015


Amer Biro Jeg stoppede med at være flygtning, da jeg startede i skole og begyndte at arbejde. Jeg er jo kun flygtet én gang. Men jeg er 100% fremmed. Selv hvis jeg var født i Danmark, ville jeg stadig ikke være dansk. For at være dansk skal man ligne en dansker, og det gør jeg bare ikke. Mange antager, at jeg kommer fra en lille landsby og ikke er vant til det moderne liv, men jeg kommer fra Damaskus, en by med 1,7 millioner indbyggere. Så jeg har ikke haft svært ved at integrere mig, og jeg ved, at jeg kan klare mig selv. Efter to år i Danmark fik jeg 12 i dansk på VUC. Da jeg kom ud af asylcentret, besluttede jeg mig for at flytte til København. Tre timer efter jeg ankom til Hovedbanegården, havde jeg et job. Og tre dage senere et værelse.

I ceased being a refugee when I started school and began to work. I have only ever fled once. But I am 100% foreign. Even if I had been born in Denmark I still wouldn’t be Danish. To be a Dane you have to look like a Dane, and I just don’t. Most people assume that I come from a small village and that I am not used to modern life, but I come from Damascus, a city with 1,7 million inhabitants. So I haven’t had any difficulties with integrating, and I know I can manage on my own. After two years in Denmark I got a 12 in Danish at the VUC course. When I left the asylum centre I decided to move to Copenhagen. Three hours after arrival at Copenhagen Central Station I had a job and three days later my own room.

Det meste af min familie er stadig i Syrien. Jeg flygtede sammen med min mor, men på Malmø Station blev vi væk fra hinanden, og det endte med, at jeg tog til København, mens hun blev i Sverige. Jeg savner min familie forfærdeligt meget. I Syrien brugte jeg al min tid sammen med dem eller mine venner. Her føler jeg et kæmpe tomrum. Det har været svært for mig at få venner her i København. De fleste af mine venner er syriske flygtninge og enkelte fra Venligboerne. Men jeg er jo ung og vil gerne ud i byen og feste. Det er heller ikke fordi, jeg ikke møder mennesker, når jeg tager ud, men vi bliver aldrig rigtigt andet end facebookvenner.

Most of my family is still in Syria. I fled with my mother, but at the station in Malmö we became separated and I ended up going to Copenhagen while she stayed in Sweden. I miss my family awfully. In Syria I spent all my time with them or with my friends. I feel a huge void. It has been difficult getting friends here in Copenhagen. Most of my friends are also Syrian refugees and a few from Venligboerne refugee network. But I am young and I like to go out and party. It is not that I don’t meet people when I go out, but it never seems to go beyond being Facebook friends.

Som 26-årig er det vanskeligt at opbygge et nyt netværk, da de fleste har en tæt, ret lukket venskabskreds, hvor nye venner ofte opfattes som en slags angreb.

26 år / mand / enlig / studerende / København NV / fra Syrien / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse samme år

Building a new network as a 26-year old is difficult, inasmuch as most people seem to have a close-knit network, where new friends are often perceived as a sort of invasion.

26 years / male / single / student / Copenhagen NV / from Syria / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit same year


Sabah Hamadoun Jeg føler mig slet ikke fremmed her mere. Når jeg går en tur, er det mine venner, jeg ser, min gade, jeg går på, mit hjem. Det gør mig stolt. Fordi jeg føler mig meget hjemme her, reagerer jeg, når nogen prøver at gøre mig til en fremmed. Da en kollega blev sur over, at jeg talte arabisk med en anden kollega, snakkede jeg med chefen om det, og hun løste problemet for mig. Da en anden kollega kiggede mærkeligt på mig, konfronterede jeg ham, og nu har vi et rigtig godt forhold.

I don’t feel foreign here at all anymore. When I go for a walk in town, it is my friends I see, my street I walk on, and my home I return to. It makes me feel proud. I think that it is due to no longer feeling foreign that I react when someone tries to provoke or alienate me. As when I spoke Arabic with a colleague, another colleague was really annoyed, so I spoke to my boss about it, and she solved the problem for me. And when another colleague looked at me in a strange way, I confronted him, and we now have an excellent relationship.

Jeg har også altid været meget tæt med mine naboer. Min nabos børn kommer altid forbi og hilser på mig. Jeg er ikke bange for at række hånden ud først, og jeg bliver ved, indtil de tager imod den. Det er vigtigt for mig at have folk omkring mig. Det giver mig stor glæde. Derfor har jeg valgt at engagere mig i så mange foreninger som overhovedet muligt.

I have always been close to my neighbours. Their children will often come over and say hello to me. I am not afraid of reaching my hand out first, and I keep on until they grab it. It is important to me to have people around me, and I really enjoy it. So I have chosen to involve myself in as many voluntary associations as possible.

Mange flygtninge sætter deres liv på pause, når de kommer til Danmark. Deres ønske om at vende tilbage gør, at de aldrig rigtigt får bygget et liv op her.

Many refugees put their lives on hold when they come to Denmark. Their hope to eventually return results in them never really being able to build a full life here.

Jeg føler, at jeg er nået til et punkt i mit liv, hvor det skal handle om mig. Min ene datter fik konstateret kræft, da hun var teenager. Vi kæmpede med sygdommen i flere år, og det var meget hårdt. Vi var utroligt bange. Da jeg kom til Danmark og søgte om familiesammenføring, blev hun afvist, fordi hun var over 18. Hun boede et år alene i Tyrkiet, og det var næsten uudholdeligt. Når ens barn har været syg, får man et kæmpe behov for at være tæt på det. I dag er vi sammen igen, og hun er rask. Det er blevet tid til at nyde livet.

I feel that I have reached a point in my life where it should be about me. One of my daughters was diagnosed with cancer when she was a teenager. We struggled with the disease for several years, and it was really difficult. We were incredibly scared. When I came to Denmark I applied for family reunification, but she was rejected because she was above the 18.year old limit. She lived on her own in Turkey for one year, and this was unbearable. When your child has been diagnosed with cancer, you get an overwhelming need to be close by. Today we are back together again, and she has fully recovered. So we have the chance to enjoy life at last.

53 år / kvinde / i et forhold / børn / Hvidovre / kok / fra Syrien / kom til Danmark i 2014 / opholdstilladelse samme år

53 years / female / in a relationship / children / Hvidovre / cook / from Syria / came to Denmark in 2014 / residence permit same year


Diana Habtom Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed i Danmark. Nogle folk siger, at danskere virker lukkede, men langt de fleste, som jeg møder, er åbne og hjælpsomme.

Jeg har én tæt veninde i Danmark. Hun hedder Asmeret og er også fra Eritrea. Ellers har jeg ikke nogen venner på min egen alder endnu, men jeg har mødt mennesker, der er ældre end mig, som er blevet min danske familie. Kirsten, Bodil, Yosef, Vita og Per. De hjælper mig med alt muligt. Der er mennesker, jeg savner, men jeg føler mig ikke alene, for jeg er omgivet af folk fra både Eritrea og Danmark, som er der for mig, og jeg forsøger hele tiden at lære flere mennesker at kende. Jeg har f.eks. tilmeldt mig en gruppe på Facebook, der hedder ”Pigehygge med DFUNK – Only for girls”, hvor der næsten kun er danske piger. Det er vigtigt for mig at blive god til dansk, så jeg kan få en uddannelse. Jeg drømmer om at blive læge og beder til Gud om, at det vil ske. Nogle gange, når det hele er svært, og jeg savner min familie og mine veninder i Eritrea, spørger jeg mig selv, hvorfor jeg kom hertil, men så beder jeg til Gud og hører kirkemusik. Det beroliger mig. Jeg føler mig lykkelig, når jeg går i kirke, og når jeg synger i kirken. Der glemmer jeg alle mine problemer. Min religion er Orthodox Tewahedo Christian, og den har en terapeutisk virkning på mig.

20 år / kvinde / enlig / går på sprogskole / Frederiksberg / fra Eritrea / kom til Danmark i 2015 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I don’t feel foreign in Denmark. Some people claim that Danish people are closed, but the vast majority of people I meet are open and helpful.

I have one close girl friend here in Denmark. Her name is Asmeret and she is also from Eritrea. Otherwise I don’t have any friends my own age yet, but I have met people older than me who have become my Danish family. Kirsten, Bodil, Yosef, Vita, and Per. They help me with all kinds of stuff. There are people that I miss, but I don’t feel alone, because I am surrounded by people from Eritrea and from Denmark who are there for me, and I constantly try to get to know more people. For instance I have signed up for a group on Facebook, “Girl fun with DFUNK – only for girls” with almost only Danish girls. It is important to me to become fluent in Danish, so that I can have an education. I dream of becoming a doctor, and I pray to God that this will happen. Sometimes, when everything seems impossible and I miss my family and friends in Eritrea, I ask myself why I came here, but then I pray to God and listen to church music. It soothes me. I feel happy when I go to church and when I sing in church. When I am there I forget all my problems. My religion is Orthodox Tewahedo Christian, and it has a therapeutic effect on me.

20 years / female / single / attends language school / Frederiksberg / from Eritrea / came to Denmark in 2015 / residence permit same year


Anonym Jeg er 100% fremmed, men jeg har også kun været her i halvandet år. Da krigen startede i 2012, ramte den hårdt i det område, hvor vi boede. Jeg føler, at jeg altid har levet i krig, både i Syrien, i flygtningelejren i Libanon og gennem min far, der sørger over krigen i Palæstina hver eneste dag. Jeg er palæstinenser, men jeg har ikke set Palæstina. Det gør mig vred og ked af det, at jeg ikke kan rejse derned, når danskerne kan. Min mor er fra Jordan, så da vi flygtede fra Syrien, ville vi gerne dertil, men de ville kun lade min mor komme ind. De ville ikke tage imod os, fordi vi er palæstinensere.

I am 100% foreign, but I have only lived here for 18 months. When the war started in 2012, it hit the area where we lived very severely. I feel that I have always lived in wartime, in Syria, in the Lebanese refugee camp, and also through my dad who still grieves every day about the war in Palestine. I am Palestinian, yet I have never been there. It makes me both angry and sad that I cannot travel there when Danish people can. My mother is from Jordan, so when we fled from Syria we wanted to go there, but they would only let my mother in the country. Not us, because we are Palestinians.

Mine forældre er 50 år, og de er ikke glade for at skulle gå i skole. Min far har været i Danmark i 2,5 år, men kan ikke noget dansk. De kan ikke tale med nogen. Og de kan ikke få et job.

My parents are both 50, and they are not at all happy about having to go to school. My father has been in Denmark for 2,5 years, but he is still unable to speak Danish. They cannot speak to anyone. And they can’t get a job.

Jeg føler, at jeg er blevet mine forældres forælder. Jeg skal tage til møder med dem, jeg taler for dem til jobinterviews, hos lægen og i jobcentret. I Syrien hjalp de mig med mine lektier. Nu er det mig, der skal hjælpe dem. De er kede af at spørge om min hjælp. Før i tiden var mine forældre stolte og glade mennesker med gode jobs. Jeg vil gerne være astronaut eller sanger, og jeg spiller på et arabisk strengeinstrument, der hedder kanun. Jeg har gået til sangundervisning, siden jeg var barn. I Syrien kan man kun vælge mellem mellemøstlig sang eller opera. Jeg valgte opera, da alle i min familie syntes, jeg var god til det. Men jeg vil hellere synge popmusik, for det er meget mere mig. Jeg var faktisk inde og se Justin Bieber i oktober. Det var fantastisk.

17 år / kvinde / enlig / går i 10. Klasse / Birkerød / fra Syrien / palæstinensisk baggrund / kom til Danmark via familiesammenføring i 2015

It is as though I have become my parents’ parent. I have to go to meetings with them, I speak for them at job interviews, at the doctors, and at the employment centre. In Syria they helped me with my homework. Now it is me helping them. They are not too pleased about asking for my help. They used to be proud and happy people, both with good jobs. I would like to become an astronaut or a singer. I play an Arab string instrument called kanun, and since I was a child, I have had singing lessons. In Syria you have the choice between Middle Eastern singing or opera. I chose opera, because everyone in my family thought I was good at it. But I much prefer to sing pop music, because that is more me. Actually I went to the Justin Bieber concert in October. It was fantastic.

17 years / female / single / 10th grade student / Birkerød / from Syria / Palestinian background / came to Denmark via family reunification in 2015


Ruaa Omar Jeg føler mig ikke fremmed, men jeg føler mig heller ikke hjemme. Jeg føler mig sikker. Jeg ved, at jeg ikke bliver bombet her, og det er klart det, der betyder mest for mig.

Jeg fik konstateret PTSD, da jeg kom til Danmark. Jeg lider af angst og er konstant nervøs for at gøre noget forkert. Min familie minder mig tit om, at vi er sikre her i Danmark. De siger, at jeg gør mine problemer større, end de i virkeligheden er. Men jeg føler, at der ligger et kæmpe pres på mine skuldre, især fra kommunen og sprogskolen. Jeg bliver nervøs, når jeg bliver kastet ud i situationer, jeg ikke er forberedt på. Da jeg havde gået på sprogskole i to måneder, sendte de mig i praktik i en børnehave. Jeg kunne ikke særlig meget dansk, og da jeg ikke taler engelsk, var kommunikationen svær. Især med mine kollegaer. Det var meget nemmere for mig at tale med børnene. Dels fordi de taler langsommere og bruger et mere simpelt dansk, og dels fordi de var mere tålmodige med mig. Det er først nu, efter halvandet år, at jeg kan mærke mine hænder igen. I lang tid kunne jeg ikke engang holde om en blyant, fordi de var følelsesløse. Men ligesom mig er de langsomt begyndt at tø op. Når alt bliver for meget, danser jeg. Jeg danser faktisk hver dag. Det hjælper mig med at falde til ro og glemme alle mine problemer for et lille stykke tid.

23 år / kvinde / enlig / Brøndby Strand / går på sprogskole / fra Syrien / palæstinensisk baggrund / kom til Danmark i 2016 / opholdstilladelse samme år

I don’t feel foreign, and I don’t feel at home. I feel safe in the knowledge that I won’t be bombed here, and that is what matters the most to me.

I was diagnosed with PTSD when I came to Denmark. I suffer from anxiety, and I am constantly worried that I will do something wrong. My family often reminds me that we are safe here, and that I exaggerate my problems. But I feel this huge pressure on my shoulders, especially from the municipality and the language school. I become nervous when I am thrown into situations I am not prepared for. When I had attended language school for two months, they sent me on an internship in a nursery. I didn’t speak much Danish, and as I don’t speak English, communication was difficult to say the least. Especially with my colleagues. It was so much easier for me to speak with the kids, partly because they speak slower and use a much simpler language, and partly because they were more patient with me. It is not until now, 18 months later, that I can feel my hands again. For a long time I couldn’t even hold a pencil because my hands were numb. It is like they, like me, are slowly beginning to thaw. When it all gets a bit too much, I dance. I dance every day. It helps me relax and forget my problems for a while.

23 years / female / single / Brøndy Strand / attends language school / from Syria / Palestinian background / came to Denmark in 2016 / residence permit same year


Profile for nydalmaja

Book 50x50cm  

Udstillingsbog 100%Fremmed?

Book 50x50cm  

Udstillingsbog 100%Fremmed?

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded