0364-Anwar’s columns

Diesel oil

The Dutch always think carefully. About consequences and disaster scenarios in particular. Therefore, it strikes me when something does not seem to be well thought about. In Arnheim your old diesel car is not worth much more. That is because we will soon have the most stringent environmental zone in the Netherlands, which ensures that old diesel cars are not allowed into the city center. Maybe you now think: okay, that’s a good solution. We dispose of old, polluting cars. That is good for the environment. But what if I tell you that old diesel cars are worth a lot in poor countries? That it is just an advantage, because the fuel is so cheap? A light now lits up at born traders. And indeed, those lights have also started to burn at traders in Arnheim. I now know a number of people who buy old diesel cars and ship them to countries where there is a need for these simmering cars. I may not be a born politician, but I can still remember that this is not a real solution. As if the neighbor at the top of the flat washes his balcony clean, and pours all the dirty water down over the balconies of the downstairs neighbors. Then I wonder, has not this been thought about, or is it not interesting that we pass on the dirty air to other countries? Do we find clean air only important for ourselves and not for others? If we want to get rid of old, polluting cars, then we have to make a rule that these cars have to be scrapped. Flattening, so that no one is bothered by it anymore.

Sad that I can not find a safe life for my family

Problems, do they actually happen at a time when it convenient? I have exams in two weeks, but my mind is overflowing with stress. My parents in Syria have no longer a home. After our family home was bombed completely seven years ago, we went to my aunt’s house in Aleppo. She was in Afrin with her husband and children in recent years. Now that it is unsafe there, she and her family have returned to Aleppo. So my parents and brother have to leave. My parents had put all their money into the house that was destroyed, so they can not buy anything new. Renting is expensive, because all people from the area around Afrin now move to Aleppo. When my father sent a video of the new house they now rented, I panicked. It is terrible. There are no windows, and there is no water and no electricity. It looks like a space under the stairs, as you can see here. They can not even pay the rent for that ‘home’. I am thinking all day, how I can solve this situation without getting into trouble. I also do not have the money to buy a property for them. ,,It is not your responsibility Anwar”, Dutch people say to me. But I can not really think like that and I do not want to think like that either. My family is, of course, my responsibility! I came to Europe to find a safe and good life for all of us. I feel sad and depressed now that I realize that I have only found a better life for myself. There are many rules that ensure that I can not protect my family. That are rules without any sentiment.


As Syrian husband and father you are expected to pay for the wedding of your sons and to buy a house for them. It is an important goal that you save your money as long as you live. You will not save money for your daughter, because she will be kept by her husband. When I have children in the Netherlands, I have double expenses. I will also have to pay for a possible daughter, she will not find a man here who will pay everything for her. I am going to have a hard life. I think it is unbelievable, then, that you have to pay tax to the Dutch government on an inheritance. Soon I will have worked for my children for a lifetime, a paid house and then my children will only get the TV when I die. Because the tax authorities have stopped by. Do you already pay taxes during your life? Why then when you are dead? I talked about it with Dutch fathers. ‘We want our children to work for a house themselves. Otherwise they might not do anything at all”, they said. In my culture that will not happen, because after you have received a house from your parents you start saving yourself for the house that you will later give to your own children. When you die, the child with whom you have lived in your home for the last few years receives the most money from the inheritance, or the parental home. It could be a tip for Dutch elderly people who do not want to go to an old people’s home. Just keep the Syrian rule: who takes care of you, then gets your house (or what is left of it after the tax authorities have been). Then it will be fighting: who can take in mom and dad?


I have experienced quite a few disasters and emergency situations in my life. Now for the first time also one in the Netherlands. A week ago I was studying at the Highschool Arnhemi Nimwegen. Suddenly there was a power failure. I got a smile on my face, it reminded me of Syria. In the last few years that I lived in Aleppo, there was about 1.5 hours of electricity every day. I bowed my head down again to continue reading in my textbooks. But I was the only one who thought that life went on. ‘What is happening?’ people called. Phones were anxiously kept in the air. “I do not have internet!”, a classmate called. The power was not back after an hour. For some reason everyone wanted to go home. “Papa, you have to pick me up! the trains do not run because of the power failure. I heard students speak in their phones. “Oh no!”, said an other. ‘I have my whole freezer full of meat! Would the insurance compensate?” I shook my head and dived into the books again. A teacher walked past. “You have to go home. The building will close due to the power failure”. I did not understand anything. Can a teacher not even teach without electricity? “It’s about the fire alarm that does not work now,” he explained. Oh yes, forgot. The Dutch always think about what can go wrong. A blazing fire, in the hour and a half that we do not have power. I made my way through the students who told their parents and grandparents by telephone the way to HAN. Everyone had to be picked up. I packed my bike and went home. On the street I saw two cars collide. The traffic lights did not work without power. Motorists apparently can not do without it, so even on the road it became a chaos. I called my mother in Aleppo and told her about the disaster situation in Arnheim. We laughed together, very hard. You are a superhero mom, I said. She lives without power every day.


The Netherlands are doing their best to be better for the environment. Sometimes I think: are the Netherlands not doing a little too much? Cooking on gas is not allowed anymore, driving a car is bad and using energy is actually never good, even if you have green electricity. There was a friend visiting my roommate Ahmed. We drank tea together. She said that she always comes by bike, because even public transport is bad for the environment. She also buys second-hand clothing. She had pants that were only 15 euros. Aha! I also have trousers of 15 euros, I told them. From the Primark. No, that is not good either, she said. Because the clothing is made far away by people who get too little money for it. This friend really thinks about everything. She even thinks about the salaries of people on the other side of the world. I drank my tea quickly and I went to my own room. I thought: if I wait a little longer, she says that life is bad for the environment. Although it is good to think about the environment, I hope that the Dutch do not dig too far into it. Otherwise, in a couple of years we will go through Arnhem by horse and cart. Then we light a fire in the garden to get our food warm and we play football with a ball of paper. Then we only have to put a very large lid over the Netherlands to keep our oxygen fresh. Because I am not sure whether the countries alongside us want to participate. I think I’m going for horseback lessons for safety.

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