Samira Nawa is politically active, because she wants to show that we are equal no matter how we look. But she actually wished for another hair colour for her baby when she was pregnant
Age, education, and political party?
“I’m 27 years old, born in Denmark, finished university with a degree in Economics and now I’m working with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior as an economist. I’m a part of the Social Liberal Party (Radikale Venstre) and was candidate for the Danish Parliament in the election in June. My parents are from Afghanistan. They fled from the Taliban in 1986”
What is your positive experiences in Denmark?
“Among my friends there is a curiosity to know more about my background, language and religion. Each Ramadan, me and my husband invite some of my friends to come and break the fast with us to make them see what Ramadan actually is all about and what we do in our family. And it’s not like “Oh it is Ramadan again and what are they doing these muslims”.
“This Ramadan, there was this couple, the husband is also a member of Radikale Venstre, my husband and I invited them to break the fast with us and I told them: We wake up at 2.30 and eat and then go to sleep and get up at 06.00, go to work and don’t eat or drink anything until 22.00. I wrote to him and his wife and invited them to break the fast with us. They said maybe, but they came in the evening and he said that they actually did wake up at 2.30 to eat some food, and did not eat until now and they were very hungry, and he was craving for watermelon and I told him that the watermelon was for him. They wanted to feel what it was like to fast all day for 30 days. I think it was a very nice experience, when people who are not Muslim try to understand, feel and see what we do. And this is only one example”
What are your less good experience with Danes?
“Personally for me, I haven’t experienced something bad or less good. There is always some friends and some things that comes up, but it has nothing to do if you are Dane or not. I have a son and he is two years old. When he was eight months old I went all around Copenhagen with him in his pram and a lot of people talked to him and said “Oh you are so cute”, but I also experienced two people who were looking at him and said “Your father must be a foreigner”, because my son has dark eyes and darker hair (from his father). That hurts me, even though I know it is not their intention, but it hurts me because my son is born in Denmark, and now he is framed belonging to some foreign culture or being in a box of foreigners, because he looks the way he does. That was a less good experience. Another woman looked at him and said “do you speak Danish my little friend”. I got a bit angry. I know it is not her intention, because he does not speak at all. He was only eight or nine months old. We are all framed and put in boxes for how we look and I am sad to see that it happens even for the second generation. My son should be more Dane than I am, but because he has darker hair he was put in that box.
I hope – and that is also what I am working for and what keeps me motivated and politically active – that we are all equal no matter which God we believe in, or how dark or blond our hair is. When I was pregnant with my son I felt like being a racist myself, when I wished him to have fair skin and green eyes and red hair, because it would be easier for him to blend in with the Danish society. But he turned out differently and it is very good. He will learn how to get over it, and learn all the tricks from his father.
Can you give any advice to asylum seekers and new immigrants about cultural differences?
“Of course there is a lot of cultural differences, and some of it has to do with religion. I think a lot of it is about the traditions in Denmark. There are Christian traditions like christmas, easter and so on. A lot of refugees come with a Muslim background and have other traditions and another backgrounds. I think it is important to learn about the Danish traditions and culture as fast as possible as that will open many doors. The Danes will also then be more welcoming to Muslims traditions and it will also be easier for the Danes to be open about Eid or Ramadan for example. And focus on the positive.”
There are a lot of people here in Denmark with a positive attitude towards immigrants and refugees. In the last weeks we have seen a lot of Danes on the streets and it has showed how much love Denmark has to give. In the demonstration there was 40.000 people welcoming refugees to Denmark only in Copenhagen. They had demonstrations in other cities as well. Then it is also important to learn the language. I am working very hard for people to learn their mother tongue, because for me that is important. If you speak Arabic or Afghan at home, that is an inheritance that you should keep so you can talk with your parents or your grandparent. That is part of making us whole. But to engage in Danish society it is important to learn the Danish language, because Denmark is a small country.
We humans are the same. If I meet someone who says something in Farsi, like for example “How are you”, wow! Okay, you really tried to learn my language. Then you’ll let them get closer to you.