0112-Anwar’s columns



Who I am in the Netherlands, actually depends only on myself. If I apply, nobody asks me what my father is doing, where I was born, or I am an Alawite, Sunni, Kurd or whatever. In my Dutch passport does not even mentioned who my parents are. Who you are in Syria, does not depend on yourself. I was born in Aleppo, but according to my Syrian identity card I am from Kobanî. That’s because my father is coming from Kurdistan and there live many Kurds. If you are a wealthy Syrian parents or have influential relatives then your CV has many ‘vitamins’, as we call it. In that respect, I have a severe vitamin deficiency. My family is not rich and we are Kurdish. Syria is doubly wrong. It is currently advantageous to be an Alawite, because that is also President Assad. Preferably someone holding a public function in your family. You will have at least a reasonable vitamin rich resume. I have already written before that work for the government in my family is not possible, because we have an uncle who is with a “wrong” Kurdish party. Our family is therefore written off in its entirety as ‘appropriate’. In the Netherlands you brought up your children, and then they build themselves on their future. In Syria, the thought previously that parents provide for the future. Failing that, the feeling of failure is high. That is why I remember the day so well that my father asked me to flee. He cried. Because he would miss me, because it was war, but because he felt he had failed as a father. He could offer me no home, no money and no safe place to live. I need no one to tell you that he could do anything. Now I am in the Netherlands, I have to try it on their own. The stamp of refugee I have, but I’ll hopefully as if I speak Dutch and work. I’m working hard.

Shower room

Yes, I passed my exam B1 Dutch. Now I continue with B2. More and more I begin separate things stand out in the Dutch language. If not you sit in front of the computer, but behind the computer. A Dutchman do not wait in the station, but on the station. In any language I speak is the “thirty minutes after three o’clock, not ‘half past three”, as in the Netherlands. Dutch words I always use in a different way than I had imagined. “What time shall I cut?”, asked the barber when I called. That sounds scary. I do not want to be cut, I would have just cut my hair. I can not even hold in the Dutch language of logic. So I spoke again against Dutch about our ‘shower room. That appears to be a word. It’s called a bathroom. I find quite strange, because we have no bath at all. I feel that the words I learn here, must first be put in a mixer. If I have mixed them, I can use them. I sleep next to Ahmed, here it would just be mean the same thing when I sleep on Ahmed. Fortunately, we now have between all the spelling and grammar lessons also the subject ‘knowledge society’. I’ve learned that here except for marriage and cohabitation also can choose a registered partnership. The teacher tried to explain to us why it might be a good idea to get married under a marriage contract. Where you will not share everything with each other. There was hardly anyone in the class who could find in there. Me neither. When I marry, it is not because I want money from my girlfriend, but because I want to share everything together. A marriage is still not ‘there’? For evening, if you’re just doing nothing? To me, a marriage “two spirits in one body.”  I do not know if I’m good translation from the Arabic, but it at least means that we become one in marriage. We care for each other, forever.


I went out on the Korenmarkt in Arnheim, but nowhere I was admitted. Guards said everywhere that it was full. It only applied to me for people following me it was not full. So I stood outside and watched the people in the square. A group got into a fight with another group. They began to argue and distribute blows. Police arrived on horses. I thought, boy, now we have all been there. We were loaded into police vans and then I could for several days go to the police office, explaining that I really had nothing to do with the fight. It is the Syrian style, just about anybody drains and torture to get driving offenders above water. But it did not. The officers observed a moment and caught two leading figures in the group. They were taken separately. The main characters were drunk and screaming at the police.  As if they knew it would serve no purpose to argue with drunks. The officers then let them blow off steam and wrote out a fine. Ready. Syria is the other way. When an incident is the police who rages, as a citizen you shut up and obey you. I thought back to the first week that Achmed and I lived in Presikhaaf, it was last summer. There were night two cars burned in the street. The police called us the next day. Achmed and I were terrified when we opened the door. To our surprise, the agent spoke kindly, he asked if we had seen anything. We had seen at night from everything, but we said ‘no’. We did not dare to talk to him. He also asked if we knew the emergency number in the Netherlands. We said ‘yes’, but we both did not. I have several times seen a television program about the Dutch police. The police in that program very nice and polite, just like on the Korenmarkt and at the door. Slowly I start to believe that fear the police here really is not necessary.

Dutch funeral

Ahmed, my roommate, and I have attended our first Dutch funeral. It was the mother of someone we know well. To our surprise the funeral was 7 days after the woman’s decease. All the shay lay in a coffin, above the ground.We are accustomed to a death a man to be buried as soon as possible. Often within a few hours. My grandfather we buried shortly after his death in the park, in front of his house. It is expected that the grief is clearly shown. Women cry loudly and hysterically, the men sit after the funeral together and looking glum down. At the Dutch funeral where we were, people did not look very sad. They were wearing normal clothes and chatted with each other. During the service was even played music. Achmed and I looked at it, we did not understand. Why a song? After that people went forward and told about the life of the deceased woman. That would be in the circle of my Syrian friends and family very indecent: talking and disclosing information about a deceased woman. Afterwards, all those present could lay a flower on the coffin. Ahmed did not, he found it a scary idea that the woman was still not buried after seven days. “I’ll protect you,” I whispered in his ear. Then I just pulled him forward. A funeral in the Netherlands is very personal. That is beautiful. We are used to the rituals that come with a deceased person. The washing of the body with the imam, wrapping the body in white cloths and the standard Quran Texts to be read at the grave. Personally, it’s not, but know exactly where you stand, can also provide comfort.


I have a girlfriend. A Dutch one. It is a state where I am not yet very long time known. In Syria you are engaged or married, but a relationship that does not exist. I asked my girlfriend then quickly if we were to marry soon. “Oh no,” she said. “We need to know each other, I am still studying, that is not yet immediately necessary.” I understand, but I suppose that my family does not.

So my facebook status remains ‘bachelor’. The status they would not understand ‘in a relationship’. Recently took my family-in-law me on holiday to southern Germany. It was my first vacation, that she knew. I was for that reason the first to choose a room in our house. It continues to get used to it, that her father approves that I sleep with his daughter in one room.

The first time that I saw my father in law I remember very well. My girlfriend saw me coming and flew me around the neck. I was shocked, what is she doing now? Her father could see it after all. I looked at him, but he had a smile on his face. It can all apparently. How happy I am with my girlfriend, my first vacation and the beautiful autumn, the whole situation also hurts me. My life alienates itself more and more from that of my family. Especially when I could not get in touch with my parents and brother during my first holiday in Germany . They could not call or be on the Internet. Days later I learned that she terrified had endured because terrorist groups bombarded their district with chemical weapons.

My girlfriend asked me if she could take a picture of our first holiday on her Facebook. I said yes, but I was hoping very much that nobody would tag me in the photo. The contrast between the lives of my family and me has become so great that I have to be ashamed.