Persecution, humiliation and murder – that is what Talal was exposed to before he was able to escape from Iraq, together with his nephew. Now he hopes to build a future in Denmark.
Talal Khalid Nasir was born in 1965 in the city of Basra in Iraq. He is a single man of a Mandaean minority in Iraq. He arrived to Denmark in December 2015, and made his first interview on June 20th 2016. New Times met him in Dianalund asylum center in Zealand. Here he spoke of of how he and other minorities in Iraq suffers because of the control and power of gang militias.
Iraq is a system governed by militias and clans
The Mandaean minority is one of the minorities oppressed in Iraq by militias affiliated under the name of tribes. Talal and his family was forced, like the rest of the families of his community, to join one of these clans for protection, and pay sums of money to join these clans. In the case of them withholding money from the clans, they would have been subjected to insult and murder.
‘’Militias in Iraq are worse than ISIS (Islamic state), because you cannot distinguish them from other people, when you see them – they seem like ordinary people in the streets,” Talal says.
Iraq is a mixture of several denominations that have and still continue to coexist in Iraq throughout history. It consist of Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Mandeans and Shabak; but Arab is considered the main community, and the rest of the communities are considered minorities with numbers varying from denomination to another.
Talal lived a period of time in Baghdad, where he worked with the crafting of gold ornaments. When he tells us about the security situation in his area and the nearby areas in the Karkh side, he tells us that he had to go shopping for daily items before five pm: “The security situation was very bad. People was carrying weapons to protect themselves from the militias and gangs. There, any human being could be killed at any moment,” Talal says.
Staying positive despite an unknown future
Talal has a positive sense because he was able to save his nephew John from being killed or kidnapped: His nephew’s father worked as a journalist in Iraq, and because of that John was also threatened with death. Now John is currently hidden – even from his family. The only contact they have is through phone calls from John’s father to check up on how they are.
But at the same time, Talal is worried because his future is still unknown and he suffers from a difficult waiting time. Because of this, he cannot focus on anything, even studying the Danish language. Talal is also worried because he had heard that it is more difficult for Iraqis to be granted asylum compared to Syrians. After the awful situations he experienced in Iraq, he finds it difficult to wait for the response, but still he must wait in the asylum center until the Danish authorities look into his case.
Building a theater inside the asylum center
Besides being a crafter of gold ornaments, Talal also graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Performing Arts Department of the Al Basrah University in Iraq. He was part of a group called ‘’Demons Iraq Theater’’, and now in Denmark he hopes to build a theater inside the asylum center, and to work on a theatrical performance, which can create communication between the refugees and the Danish people.
Talal hopes that the performance can display the good sides of refugees and their good faith towards Denmark, the country that hosted them and gave them protection and safety.
‘’It’s enough for me to see the smiles that I find on the face of the Danish people, when I meet them on the way,‘’ Talal says.
He tells us that he did not receive these smiles in his country: There he only experienced humiliation and enslavement.
“I am happy to be in Denmark”
To Talal, there is no country able to protect minorities such as Denmark: “The best proof of that is what the Danish people did with the Jews during World War ll. They did not deliver the Jews to the Germans the other countries did, but hoped to smuggle the Jews to a safe place. For this reason, I have great confidence in this ancient country,” Talal concludes.
In the future, Talal hopes that he can continue his work with the crafting of gold ornaments, and hopes to make an agreement with the specialists in this field to have more specialized training programs in the crafting of the ornaments in Denmark, instead of importing gold ornaments from other countries.
About the Mandaean minority
The Mandaean minority is a religious group, inhabiting mainly the south of Iraq. Few live in the capital Baghdad.The origin of this community comes from the belief in Sam, son of prophet Noah. For this reason they have named their native language “Semitism”, which is considered close to the Christian Hebrew and Aramaic language. The religious group have many rituals and traditions.