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Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A boy fighting for his family

Just heard on Danish radio an interview with 15-year old soft spoken Ahmed, born in Lebanon, at the age of six escaping from the civil war to Denmark.

With his family he settled in the northern part of Jutland, the part of Denmark where I come from too. The boy grew up, got friends, went to school, went fishing like any other boy, learned to master Danish in the special northern dialect which to me is so familiar.

Disaster stroke the family as the father against strong family protests decided to re-immigrate back to Lebanon. Ahmed repeatedly told his father that the family’s residence permit would be rewoked if they left Denmark.

Ahmed hated his father for forcing the family back to the tortured Lebanon. He dreamt of Denmark and his friends here, absolutely sure that the moment he put foot on Danish soil again, all problems would disappear up in the thin air. They didn’t.

On their return to Denmark after a couple of years in Lebanon, they had to start all over again. They were forced into a refugee centre, couldn’t join regular school, and got denied renewing the residence permit because they’ve been back to the country form which they originally escaped.

They got an official no six times. The date for their expulsion was set when Ahmed decided to go underground with his little sister in order to stay in Denmark.

The father suffered a mental brake down before the expulsion, and as Denmark doesn’t expel people with mental brake downs, they finally got their permit and the chance to start all over again.

I was touched. A boy was hurt. A family had suffered. The interview was taped in 1991, - but the voice was the same as the grown up Ahmed. Yes, it’s the Ahmed Akkari, now well known imam, who travelled the Middle East to raise storm against Denmark.

Why did it have to end up like this? Why did the grown up Ahmed become the black knight of the Prophet instead of the soft boy fighting for his family’s right to stay in the newand free country that he wanted so much?


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