Salim’s Story, Sweden


Salim found refuge in Sweden after fleeing Syria to Lebanon. I met Salim a few weeks ago in Malmo, the most densely populated area in Scandinavia, but he wasn’t a mere Syrian refugee. While he was introducing himself, he was not sure if he should say a “Syrian-Palestinian”, “Palestinian from Syria”, “refugee in Sweden”, becoming “Swedish” or maybe just a human being! As I was confidently introducing myself as a Tunisian African and explaining more about my Africanism, he smiled and replied: “I like that you clearly know who you are because I am still in search for my identity”.

This complex identity of him dates back to his family’s displacement in 1948 following the Nakba that expelled Palestinians from their homes. He was then born 1989 and raised in Yarmouk refugee camp, a historical Palestinian neighborhood established in Damascus during the 50s. At the age of 24, Salim found himself a refugee “again” and as he says “the journey continues…” […] Travelled for the first time in his entire life outside Syria and Lebanon, he finally arrived to Sweden. “When I arrived, I was surprised with the snow and the dark short days”. It took sometime for him to adopt to the new weather, language, space, currency, lifestyle and to understand “the strange situation” in order to find his way in the new place. […]”

I contacted Salim again today to ask him of what today, the World Refugees Day, would mean to him as a refugee. He immediately answered “you know… once you are a refugee, you are a refugee forever, at least for me”. He then took some silent moments and recalled the quotes of his friend Homi Bhabha “the globe shrinks for those who own it… but for the displaced or dispossessed, the migrant or refugee, no distance is more awesome than the few feet across borders or frontiers”. Then he continues “Today I achieved my few feet, and if I can make one more human being achieve those few feet, I will help!”

Having his family arrived to Sweden, Salim now feels more safe, something he hasn’t felt for a while. Still hard for him to be disconnected “twice” from where he belongs… then to be asked to belong somewhere else… “I don’t identify myself as a citizen of any place…” at least his confusion has gone since our first conversation a month ago and now he can confidently identity himself as human being or citizen of the world.

Read the full story here

by Aya Chebbi, Tunisia
posted: Saturday, 21st June, 2014

1 family torn apart by war is too many

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