[i] Good morning. [name]
[r] Good morning.
[i] I see you have something in your hands. A picture.
Yes, I have…
Would you like to tell me something?
Two pictures with me, yes. This picture, I’m gonna tell you something about… the picture of my father. This picture is the only picture we have. And that’s my dad’s picture. I don’t know my dad, I haven’t seen my dad. But, through this picture, I have an idea about his face and stuff. And, uh, yeah, this picture is just a memory or… If I’m homesick, I’m always gonna look at this picture and this picture of my family. And my father was, uh, attacked [campaign] by the Ba’ath regime on 1988. Attack was a campaign, an operation against the Kurds in northern Iraq. And there the Ba’ath regime killed 182,000 people in the mass grave.
[i] You mean Ba’ath Party?
[r] Ba’ath Party? Yes, that’s right. And my father is… one of those people. And, uh, yeah, this picture…
[r] Good luck with that.
Yes, thank you very much. And this picture is the picture of my family. It shows my mother, my sisters and my brother’s wife. Yes, I grew up in a female family. Yes, I have four sisters and my mother and one brother. So we were a female family. And I’ve always had a good relationship or good contact with my mother and my sisters. So, I have this picture when I, like I said, when I’m homesick, I always look at these pictures.
[i] So this picture means a lot to you, very important.
[r] That’s right, yeah. Always with you.
I’m always with you and I, I’m always hanging by my bookcase, there. So if I’m looking for a book, I can always look at the pictures and see the pictures. Well, those pictures are important. That’s right, yeah.
[i] Very important to you, yeah.
[r] Yeah. And my mother is the most important person in our family. Because my mother has six children… … …raised or taken care of, I don’t know how to say, yes.
Raised, yes that’s right. And we’ve, we’ve all grown up now. Everybody has, without me, everybody has their own family and their own kids. My brother and my sisters. Only I live alone here. So my mother has played a very big part in our family. Because otherwise we couldn’t… we can’t do everything, like, for example, I can’t go to college without my mother. Because my mother helped us. My mother worked for us every day or every day. So we can arrange everything, well, without a father. A mother with six children is…
not easy.
No, it’s not easy. Kind of hard, yeah. Usually in our society is for the women, is really difficult because as an individual [individual] woman, or as a woman has none, then is a little harder than those women have men. Because if you don’t have a husband, then your neighbor or the other person of you, society is going to say ugly words or go, I don’t know. And therefore, my mother was really brave… yeah.
[i] Does she still live there?
How much?
Your mother still lives in Kurdistan?
Yes, my mother still lives with my brother in Iraq, yes. She’s alone, without together, my mother and I. But when I came here, my mother had to have someone too. Or live with someone, yes. Not like here. She can’t live alone. And that’s why she had to go with my brother. And now they live with each other.
[i] And do you have contact with your mother now?
[r] Yeah, we always talk on the phone or the internet. Always, yeah. I talk to my sisters, my brother, my mother too.
[i] And when did you come to Holland?
[r] I, since 2008 I came to the Netherlands. And yes, 2008. We had, yeah, I personally had a problem in Iraq. And that’s why I fled to Holland, since 2004. And since 2008 I’ve been here, yeah. And I had to go to Ter Apel. And there I got support or shelter. by COA or IND. And, yes, I had to wait three months for an interview. Then I had the first and the second hearing, or interview. And, yes, I moved to the other asylum seekers’ centre. Yes, I went to Almelo. I had been there for four years. Yes, there I was, there was the first, how can I… There was the first, the first, the new life for me. In AZC, in the asylum seekers’ centre, because I had seen very different cultures and nationalities there. And I’ve been with them in one house. With Iraqis, Iranians, Afghan, African and yes with every nationality there I learned a lot. About the culture, about the, yes for the people and sometimes about the language, I had no idea at all about some nationalities, about some languages. And there I had learned almost everything. And earlier I couldn’t, for example when I was in Iraq, I couldn’t live so easily with the other nationalities. But when I was in, when I came here, when I went to AZC, asylum seekers’ centre, I became a bit easy.
[i] Okay, get to know other people.
[r] Yeah, that’s right, yeah.
[i] Do you still have contact with those people, or don’t you?
[r] Yeah, I’m in contact with those people. For example, when I was in Kirkuk, I totally wanted to have contact with Arab [Arabs]. Arab youth. But now I have contact with Araben, Arab boy contact. We always talk on the phone. Yes, or I have contact with Iranians as well. I also learned Persian. in Asylum Seekers’ Center, yes.
[i] Can you speak Persian now?
[r] Yes, I can. And yeah, my Arabic wasn’t, uh, not strong, wasn’t good either. I learned Arabic well there too. Because when I was in Iran, I didn’t want to learn Arabic either, yes.
[i] For political reasons.
[r] Because of the political reasons. That’s right, yes. Usually for us it’s completely different. Because I lost my family completely. My mom, my dad, I’m sorry. My dad and my cousin and my uncle and my aunt’s husband all have them. [inaudible] Yeah, yeah. And yeah, that’s why we had most of the distance between Arabs and Kurds in Kirkuk. Usually for us and so to speak, we don’t want to at all. My mother matters now, we don’t want to go to the Arab shop. Groceries, for example, yes.
[i] And when did you move to Amsterdam?
[r] Um, last year. 9 months ago, I came to Amsterdam. I used to be in Delfzijl and Groningen. I got an asylum seeker last year, sorry, residence permit. And I had to stay in the asylum seekers’ centre for a few months. And then I got a house here. And I moved here to Amsterdam, moved.
[i] What place did you come to live here? Where do you live here?
[r] In North Amsterdam
[i] And what was your impression when you first came to Amsterdam?
[r] Yeah that, yeah before, yeah, I, too, lived in North, in Drenthe for a year or two, yeah, a year and a half. Because I am in contact with a Dutch family. I had been with them. Because I had no residence permit. And then they told me you could stay with us, if you want. I said, yes, that’s very good. I certainly would. That was, I mean, that was totally different from Amsterdam. Drenthe is very quiet and Drenthe is woods and trees and flowers everywhere. But here’s completely different. There’s noise everywhere and very crowded. And do you have to arrange everything yourself, do you have to, yes, here you have less support too. Get support, but otherwise you have to arrange everything yourself. And the people are different too.
How different are they?
[r] Yes, the people from Drenthe or Groningen or the north and everything in the Netherlands are more helpful than the people from Amsterdam. Because, yes here is really a big city. That’s the difference between Drenthe and Amsterdam. I said, you have to arrange everything yourself here. And there’s noise everywhere. Yeah, and I just came here to study. I didn’t want to come here, but when I came here I was studying political science. In Amsterdam University. But, a few months ago, I went to a Dutch language course. And there I talked to some teachers and students and I went to an open day. And then I decided on the other choice. I chose a different direction.
[i] Which direction did you choose?
r] I chose ‘Public Administration, Government and Management’ at the HvA, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. And, yes, now I am apparently for Public Administration, I want to study ‘Public Administration, Government and Management’ in September. And, yes.
[r] And why are you studying in [unclear]?
[r] Because I studied political science, graduated. when I was in Iraq, political science and law. I graduated in Erbil. And that’s why I want, administration or political science is close to political science. And I also have some experience with political science, and yes, that’s why I chose public administration. Yeah.
[i] So, do you like living here?
Yeah, I really like it here. And I got a good home here. And I got plenty here, a living room, a bedroom. And I’ve got a separate kitchen. And this one has a, yeah, everything. And I like everything. I’ve got plenty here.
[i] Satisfied?
Yeah, satisfied. Yeah, I’m totally satisfied here.
[i] And neighborhood, do you like it here too?
Yeah, I like it. It’s a little quieter here, too. [unintelligible] a place of Amsterdam. Here’s Garden Village. Yes, and the neighbors are completely quiet. And my neighbourhood is, yeah, I don’t see any noise there and I don’t hear anything at all.
[i] You like peace and quiet.
[r] Yeah, yeah. I’m also a bit, my character is a bit quiet. I don’t want too much noise or noise or anything.
And do you have any contact with the neighbors here?
Yes, with one neighbor. I have contact with the neighbour on the left. But I don’t have any contact with the other one. I have contact with the left neighbor con… …I’ve met… And we’ve spoken to each other Couple of times, she’s, he’s said to me: If you need help, I can always help you. And then, he’s a very good man, a very good neighbor.
[i] Yeah.
Are you going to eat together or not?
No, not yet.
Maybe I will.
[r] Maybe I will. Yeah, I will.
Yeah, you said you like rest and no noise. Do you have a nice park here or a nice place if you want to go for a walk?
[r] Yeah, I like that, too, if I have a good place, like, some forest or a forest or, yeah, beach or something. Here, Twiske is a very famous place. It’s near me. Twenty minutes by bike I can get there. There’s a very good place with trees and a small lake.
Lake. Are you going for a walk there?
Yeah, sometimes I go for a walk when the weather’s good, when the weather’s good, I go by bike. Walk there and sit there. I like that. Yeah.
And, yeah, I’ve been living there since…
[r] 2008 I’ve been here since 2008. But I didn’t have a residence permit. I also had to say, I had no residence permit until 2014. I had received a negative decision from the IND. I was also planning to study when I was in the asylum seekers’ centre. I contacted UAF. I heard UAF through my friends. And I got my…
[i] What is UAF?
[r] UAF is a foundation for the refugee. Those refugees have their own, have certificate of their own country. They want to study here again. And UAF is going to support them, help them. For example, usually help them financially. And that is really important to me in the Netherlands. Because the most important … most important organization at the university in the Netherlands for the refugee is UAF. Many refugees have received support from UAF. And some students now have a good job. And the UAF they have graduated from university or HBO or MBO. Now they have a good job. Now they have everything perfect. Just like any human being. And that’s why I contacted the UAF. I said to them: “I would like to study here again. I graduated in political science.” They accepted me, yes, after six months. They said: “Can you go for 1 year to the, a course Dutch language. And I went to Deventer. I was in Almelo at the time. There I learned Dutch. Then I went to switch year, to Enschede. There I also studied for 1 year, transition year. For example, mathematics and history of the Netherlands. And psychology and physics and Dutch and English. Yeah. But, I couldn’t go on. I couldn’t study anymore. Because I had been given a negative decision by the IND. That’s why I had to leave the asylum seekers’ centre. And I had to go to the street or live here illegally. I had been without a document for two years or had gone into hiding with my [name]. I had been with my boyfriend. Two years in, 1 year in Almelo, and the other year I was Rotterdam. And after that, we made a small group. Like Iraqis, they didn’t have a residence permit, for example. We went to Ter Apel. There they demonstrated against IND. We demonstrated against IND or minister, or minister, er… Bitch, or the other minister, I don’t know, how was that. Who was that? Yes, we wanted to, we told them: “We want to go to the asylum seekers’ centre alone, or get shelter, we don’t have anything on the streets. And we can’t work, we can’t do anything. But are we, are we not accepted. And that is why we went to Sellingen, to Sellingen, above Ter Apel. Yes, we’ve been there for three weeks and that’s where I learned to know a Dutch family. And, we only had three weeks stay … eh, permit by the municipality. Then, later, we had to leave there too. Because we didn’t have a permit anymore. The other people came back to The Hague or other cities. But I, because of that Dutch family, got support. They said to me: “Can you stay with us, if you want. And we’re going to help you. For example, if you have a new document or a new story, we can talk to the lawyer. Or help you, support you.” Yeah, I got the support from that Dutch family. 2014, then 2014, yes, I was there.
[i] Then you were kind to that family.
[r] Yes, yes, very sweet. I was like their son. They didn’t have children. Just two old women. Old man and wife. And yes, I lived with them. I had dinner with them on the table every day. And we went shopping together. Yeah, and they had a sweet dog, too. His name is Latoya, she’s called. I also have the picture of her here. Yeah, I really like that. We’ve been very good friends with Latoya. Latoya and I.
[i] Do you still have contact with that family?
[r] Yeah, they came here twice. And I’ve been there three times, too. Within those nine months. in Amsterdam. Yeah, I’m going there too. They come here too. We’re gonna walk here and go to the market in Amsterdam. There we go. Yeah, enjoy. Yeah, I like that too. They’re really my family, my Dutch family. Yeah, they were real, they’re really sweet. For me and for the others, for different too. But, of course, they can’t help everyone. But that’s enough. Yeah. And then I, um, brought the new documents. The new documents. I brought some new documents about my story. And I made one more interview, one more appointment. I did an interview,and luckily,I finally got a residence permit. Yeah, but like I said, I wanted to study political science. But in northern city none at all. In Nijmegen or, sorry, in Groningen or Drenthe or Friesland no political science. Yes, no university or no political science. That is why I told UAF that I would like to go to Leiden or Amsterdam or Nijmegen. For political science. They said: Okay, we’ll try to talk to the municipality. If you can, you can go to one city Amsterdam, Leiden or Nijmegen. And finally I got a house here in Amsterdam.
[i] That’s very nice.
[r] Yes, that’s very nice. Because now that COA is COA, COA has a different rule or different facts. They are not going to give a house to everyone everywhere. Um, they’re only going to give a house near 50 or 100 kilometres, near AZC. But if you have a good reason, for example to study or find a job, or your family, for example, your family lives here, you are in an asylum seekers’ centre in Groningen, then you can come there, you can come here. Yeah.
[i] And, you do have contact with those families from Groningen?
Yes, from Drenthe.
Ah, sorry, Drenthe. But do you ever suffer from, or did you have culture shock? I mean, you come from a very different culture and here. Was that hard for you? How was it for you?
[r] Um, no, it wasn’t hard for me at all. Cause, I was a little used to asylum seekers’ centers. I said before: I had been in the asylum seekers’ centre for four years. I have, yes, I had very little contact with the Dutch. Mostly with the Dutch family. I have, I have never been with a Dutch family at the table. Eating together or something. Or been with a Dutch family. But, first time was a bit difficult, but after that, it became a bit easier. And I’m also a bit easy. I can easily accept other cultures. I can eat other, for example, or other things we don’t have in Iraq. And I have, I think I’m different from other people. To accept the difficult things. I’m a little flexible. I accept almost everything. Not everything, but almost everything.
[i] You can handle people easily.
Yeah, I can easily get in touch with people. With people different culture, for example, walking, or eating, I don’t know. I don’t have a taboo or a haram, they’re not, they’re not important to me. And that’s why I’m a little flexible. That’s just easy if I go to church or mosque or don’t know any other temple or with Dutch family meat or for example pork or I don’t know the others that are with our haram, pork, yes. For me it is easy. I don’t find that a problem at all.
[i] But not with culture either?
[r] Not with culture either, that some, yes, I really like Dutch culture. That’s completely different from, say, us. We have a lot of taboo and haram. But here I find it very easy. Not here.
[i] Lots of freedom.
[r] Lots of freedom, certainly yes, freedom of opinion, freedom from before everything, for women, for young people, for men, for ladies and gentlemen, for everything, yes. And that’s why the Dutch are called I have never been with that family for a year, two, one and a half. I never ate any Iraqi Kurdish food.
[i] Can you easily eat Dutch?
[r] Yes only Dutch I think, I was really good, I really liked it Because, yes, almost every day we had a healthy … … we make, for example, we make a heavy food, I think, I don’t think that’s easy for us. For your belly or for your health. We use a lot, yes in Iraq, we use a lot of oil and rice and meat. Yes, but here, when I was with that family, I had more orega [?] Had I eaten less with food. Yeah, I usually had fruit, um… fruit and…
[i] Vegetables too.
[r] Vegetables, yes. Vegetables too we ate, yes. There I also learned, how to make a Dutch recipe or a Dutch food. Here I make sometimes.
[i] Hut spot, or?
Yes. For example, um, asparagus. How to make an asparagus. And yes, how do you make a, for example, a… those little green things I don’t know, but here, the kids don’t like it.
Brussels sprouts?
Brussels sprouts, yes, exactly, yes. How to make their Brussels sprouts with chips and cauliflower meatball. Yeah, I find that…
[i] Chicory too?
Yeah, chicory too, yeah, yeah, exactly.
[i] So you’re integrated?
[r] Sure, yeah.
[i] Do you feel you’re integrated yourself?
[r] Yes, I have a lot of experience now. I got a lot of experience through that family. That was a completely different life for me. I learned and got everything through that Dutch family. Dutch language books and about Dutch history about Dutch people, for example, yes. We also keep in touch with the other family, yes, sometimes we had dinner with the other family at the table. We also went to the other family, yes. I’ve learned enough, yes, fortunately. If I hadn’t been with that family, I would have been in one piece right now, I wouldn’t have had anything about the Dutch. Because that’s really, really important to me. Every, for every foreigner or refugee, how, yes, I don’t know, that’s really important to me. Contact, if there’s no contact with the Dutch, you don’t learn anything. That’s the way you are in Iraq, in Iraq yes. But that is very important. You should try it. Everyone should try to make contact with a Dutch person. Sometimes contact is difficult, but you have to try yourself. You can’t easily make contact in the city, or I don’t know. At the market, or something like that, you can’t make contact easily. But you have other ways. Can you just, for example, go to church. And there are a lot of sweet people there. They’re going to help you. That’s where they’re going to help you. And for example, about Dutch culture, about Dutch history, about the Dutch, um, food, about everything about the Netherlands. And that’s why everyone should or may have contact, in my opinion.
[i] There you learn the codes.
[r] Yes, yes exactly, yes.
[i] And, what are your activities or what are your hobbies?
[r] Yes, my hobbies are, I’m very good at swimming. And my hobby is swimming and reading. I read here, yes I’m here in Amsterdam for 9 months. I went to Dutch for three months, no, one and a half months, to Dutch language course also here. I passed NT2 exam. Yes, and now I have, and now I am prepared for HBO. But right now, I’m not doing any work. I don’t do anything and that’s why I read, I read, I always read at home when I don’t have an appointment or something. Or when I’m not busy. Then I read here at home about the Dutch language and about yes, with my own language, Kurdish, I read about home, I also read.
[i] What kind of books are they?
[r] Those books are, those books are mostly about history. Dutch history or Kurdish or Iraqi history. About the Iraqi people, for example. How do Iraqis think. Why has so much trouble. Like Iraqis in Iraq. Why don’t we accept each other? Kurds, Arabia, for example Sunnis and Shiites And there I’ve read some books about society, Iraqi society And those books by professor [unintelligible]. And that’s an Iraqi professor. He has tried a lot to change the Iraqi society, or wise men. That’s possible, that’s not possible. Because Iraqi society, religion plays a very important role in our society, and that is why we cannot reform easily. Or reform, not reform this. Yes, we have a lot of problems. And about history, those books are also about history. Kurdish history. Or about the former revolution, against the Iraqi government, for example. Since, or from 1921, or before that date as well, I have tried a lot to make our country, our own country, Iraq and the other part, in the other countries as well, for example in Iran, Turkey, Syria as well. And sometimes I also read about that history, about that revolution. And those people, they tried to build our own country. But they can’t, But, yes. Fortunately, we now have federal autonomy in Iraq, Kurds. Because we now have one, we now have our own territory. And our financial, uh, money, our oil. Yeah, we’re better than the other Kurds in the other countries. The other, yeah, our neighbors. We’ve had a lot of trouble, but finally now we’re a little better than we used to be. We had, for example, Saddam’s used chemical gas against us in 1988, in Halabja. There, Ba’ath Party killed 5000 people and some campaign also razed 4000 villages to the ground, yes. Raised to the ground. And killed 182,000 people in the mass graves. Yeah, we had problems before, too, but it’s all right, it’s all right, yeah.
[i] Do you often think about that, about the old days?
[r] Yeah, yeah, I always live, or I always think about the old days, yeah.
[i] Are you homesick a lot?
Very homesick, yes. Cause when I was, you know, a kid, I had a very difficult situation in northern Iraq. Our family and our society, like Kurds. We had, for example, from, since 1988, after the attack campaign they had to, we had to go to Kirkuk. We lived in a village from Kirkuk. But there, yes, we’re there: We moved to Kirkuk. And then we just, uh, had to try to build for our lives. But we couldn’t either, because the Ba’ath Party regime wanted to make us Arabs. How can you say that?
[i] Arabize.
[r] Arabize? Yeah, that’s right. And we have, yes, our family, they have Ba’ath Party changed our file to Arabs. Because they wanted fewer Kurds in Kirkuk. And, yes, we can’t easily live there. For every Kurd, but mostly for us. Because we had, my father was invaded by the Ba’ath Party regime. And that’s why they’d always said to us, your dad is a smuggler or your dad was, yeah, your dad was, your dad was Peshmerga, for instance. And they’re lying to us, that’s why they have to leave here, they have to leave. Yeah, too bad. And, yeah, our, my grandfather they had, bit, they had a tough situation, too. In 16th, 17th and 18th years, we all had problems everywhere. Yeah, political problems. I don’t know why, but they did that to us. But luckily after that I could go to university. My three sisters and I went to school, primary school. But my sisters can’t study anymore, because we didn’t have any money. And we can’t arrange everything for four students. And that’s why my sisters didn’t have to go on studying, just me. And, after that, I went to college and I finally studied college political science.
[i] Well, that’s all right, fine.
Yeah, but it’s all because of my mom. Hey, she’s tried a lot with me, mostly.
Means a lot to you guys.
[r] Yeah, yeah.
And do you still have contact with your friends there in Iraq, or?
In Iraq with friends, very little. But with my family, yeah.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m a… I’m a flexible man and helpful. Helpful, here I have learned by the Dutch people. Because here I got a lot of support from the Dutch people. Mostly by that family. That’s why I want to help everyone when I can.
[i] So you have learned, I also wanted to ask: what have you learned here, actually, in the Netherlands?
[r] Oh yes, I learned a lot here. Yes, if I didn’t come here, then… I’d be completely different than I am now. Now I’m completely different than I used to be.
[i] And how?
Cause, yeah, here’s… yeah, like when I used to tell about family, huh? I used to have to wear my, uh, my clothes, my mother was hand or my sisters. They had to wash for me. But, if I live with my family now, I won’t let my mother wash my clothes. I would do it myself. Or, about freedom. About the easy living with the other cultures. I didn’t accept Arab [Arabs] at all in Iraq, in Kurdistan. But now you do, here. Not the criminal Arab or the criminal person, but just person. And, yes, and about freedom, for example, women’s freedom: now I’m completely different than I used to be. Yeah, I used to, I used to have such a narrow, narrow way of thinking about women. And now…
[i] Now you’re more open.
Yeah, now I’m open or now I’m open about women’s freedom. Women should have freedom. Our women have no freedom at all. Nothing at all. And that’s why they have to be free. Yeah, they should have their own jobs, they should have their own money, they should be able to go out, because with us in Kurdistan is a little different from the other parts of Iraq. But it’s still not like the other countries, for example. Not like here in the Netherlands, that’s not like the Netherlands. But I mean that must be more, the women must have more, yes more women must have more freedom by society or by the men or, yes, government. Yes, our society in Kurdistan is… a little easier or open than it used to be. But religion or Islam-religion still plays a big role. Because of the imams and mosques. People still go to the mosque every Friday, one and a half million. And young people and that’s why they go to hear about the, some things I don’t like. About, for example, women and about freedom. About the, yeah. I’ve learned that way.
[i] Some extreme thoughts are not good.
No, I don’t like that. Yes, and that’s why, yes, I am, I’ve learned so much here. And I’ve changed so much. I like that. Yeah.
[i] And do you feel healthy?
Sure, yeah, I’m…
[i] You’re still young, so.
Yeah, I’ve been here since 2008. I’ve never been in hospital. Just a, yeah, some acne or something, I don’t know, what’s it called, on my back. I’ve been there once and gotten pills. Or tablets or something. Or sometimes I get the flu, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m perfectly healthy here. But in Iraq is, was also different. About healthy was different too.
What was…?
Usually now, I see a lot through the internet or TV… dying…, what’s it called, that wind coming from the desert, from Sahara.
Yes, desert.
Is very dark, the wind, I don’t know, with …
[i] Sand? Storm?
Yes, sand. Yes, storm with the sand. Yeah, then you get a lot… sandstorm, yeah. Get a lot of people, get a lot of people cancer and can’t drive a car. And yes, that’s very tricky.
You get all yellow and stuff.
Totally, yeah, totally yellow, yeah. And, yeah, here’s different. We had, we have less green there, less trees. And that’s why the trees are really important to me. We have a lot of mountains in Northern Iraq or Kurdistan. But the government has no plan at all. They have to plant flowers, trees everywhere. But they don’t. And when they do, people get healthy. Because of the chlorophyll or something, I don’t know, from the leaves of the bloom… of the trees.
[i] Stops sand too, you know, right?
Yeah, sand stops too, mostly on the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. That storm comes there, among other things. Yeah, they must have a plan there, but they don’t have a plan at all, for nothing. They don’t have a plan at all.
Maybe later when you’re studying and all, you’ll have a plan to…
Yeah, I hope so, but a lot of people tried. And they can’t change Iraq. But I hope so. Could do something in the future, something for Iraq or Kurdistan. Are you it? Yeah. I’ve chosen public administration, because you can govern a lot of public administration and a big city, big city like Arbil or Mosul or Baghdad. For example, if you have a good civil servant in Baghdad or Arbil, or what’s it called, mayor, then you can change a big city. With a good plan, with a good idea. Yeah, but the government there, they don’t do anything. They only do for their tribe and their families. That’s why, like I said, they didn’t accept. Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, I don’t know.
[i] A lot of trouble.
Many problems, yes. They didn’t accept anything. They live in Ancient Greek mythology. They can’t. They can’t.
[i] So old
[r] Yeah, now the world is completely different. You shouldn’t think so narrowly about the little things Yes, you should change that. Change individually, change personally, change government, change cities. Not every day or every year. A very long history of war. Why is that? We don’t know why.
When you were in Iraq, what was your fantasy about the Dutch? I mean, you fled, but what about Holland? Did you know you were coming to Holland?
[r] I did, no, no. All I heard about Holland was cheese and cows.
About cheese, about…?
[r] Cows. Dirty cows. Otherwise I had very few ideas about Holland. No, nothing at all… … …and flowers, too. About flowers too, yes. I read about tulips in Iraq. When I was in Iraq I knew: Holland is a country of flowers.
[i] And you’ve heard about Amsterdam, right?
Yes, Amsterdam too. Amsterdam is a European city. Not just a Dutch city, yes.
[i] What’s the important event alive? I mean there and also here.
The most important thing, yes, when I… then, yeah, in Iraq when I went to college. That was one, the most important event of my life. Because I used to have, I was a strong… not very much strong but, I was a strong Muslim. If I’d gone to mosque every day,listen to imam,or so I don’t know,things like that in islam. But… when I went to university mostly in Arabic, I totally… different, different things. Because I chose political science. That’s where you learn about everything, about every ideology. About every system, every political system. That’s why I became open, not strong as I used to be. I’ve, yes, read a lot of books. And the other people I’ve learned. And, yes, I got to know the other people. And talked to the other people. I went to the meeting and learned a lot. After that, I never went to a mosque or became a religious. But here, yes, er… That Dutch family was one, I think, the big event of my life. I saw a different world because of that Dutch family. Dutch world or Dutch society, I don’t know, yes. Yeah, that was a big event. Asylum seekers’ centre too. Asylum seekers’ centre, yes, when you come to an asylum seekers’ centre you find it difficult. Because, eh, you have to live there with everyone, with every culture or every person. In a room, two or three people, sometimes four people. I find that difficult. But at the same time you also learn about the different, about the difficulty. Yes, you have to try. That’s where I find, that’s where I find the other event in my life. I also like Amsterdam.
[i] What are you going for, yeah?
[r] Yeah, Amsterdam. Amsterdam is completely different from the other cities in Holland.
[i] What’s it different?
[r] Here I, um, really like a city. Living in a city, in a European city. But if you live in Almelo, for example, if you live in Drenthe, or if you live in the other cities, then … you’ll find something different from Amsterdam. For example, if you go to Dam Square here, you will find people. A lot of different people. Very different, for example, the museum or the other places or other things. The other cities in the Netherlands don’t have one. Yes, that’s why I like here, here too. But my character is a bit quiet. I like always quiet as a place. Yeah, but I’m talking about Amsterdam… lived. Not just for me, but for everyone. If I don’t want to study here, I’d like to live in Drenthe.
Yeah, if you don’t…?
[r] No, yes. Or in Groningen.
[i] Do you ever think you’re going to move there or not?
[r] No, no now in September I’ll start studying. So I can’t.
[i] You’ll stay in Amsterdam.
[r] Yeah, yeah, I’ll stay here.
[i] And you feel safe here in Amsterdam, too?
[r] Yes, mostly here North, I feel safer than the other part of Amsterdam. Yeah. And here Tuindorp, I find very safe. I’ve never felt safe here. I really think it’s very safe. In North and mostly here in Tuindorp.
And the rest you find…?
[r] The rest, sometimes I hear about the killer on the internet or read about the shootings about the other things. No, I don’t want that. And I’ve also seen in program about the safest municipality in the Netherlands. Had Amsterdam, too bad Amsterdam was the worst or the most unsafe municipality is Amsterdam That can happen, because Amsterdam is bigger than the other cities. And, that’s where a lot of tourists or other people come. You can’t check that easily. That’s why you have to have more security, more police, more checks, yes. But if you live in Drenthe, you don’t see any police there.
Don’t you need any there?
No, it’s not necessary.
And do you ever have any fear?
No. I’m not afraid at all.
Are you disappointed in some people here?
Disappointed? Here?
Yeah, I mean are some people not nice, or… do you have any experiences that, yeah, haven’t been fun?
[r] In Amsterdam or all over Holland?
[i] All over Holland. And in Amsterdam, too.
Yeah, in Holland, I think… sometimes I see the or hear the news about racism. I don’t like that. Because the Netherlands is a democratic country. I think one, is in the first, second, third country in the world for democracy and freedom That’s why you shouldn’t go for some things. Mostly about racism. I was, I said earlier here, in Iraq, when I was in Iraq I could do a lot of things against Arab people. With the, for example, guns or with guns or against Arabs always do anything. Whether in Kurdistan, the Kurdish youth can do anything against the Arab refugee. Now we have more than two million refugees in northern Iraq. But the Kurds are very, very sweet with the refugee. With the Arab refugee, because, yes, mostly with the Sunni, those refugees are mostly Sunni refugees. And they used to have a lot of problems with us because of the Ba’ath Party. Well, nothing against them now. We can do that. The Kurdish boys can do a lot of things. But they don’t. There’s almost a million foreigners living here, too, I think. Then you have a lot of different people or different peoples, different nationalities. You have to integrate people the other way. Not with racism, I don’t know, with weird things. I don’t like that. Yeah, I’ve been here, I’ve said, I’ve learned to integrate with the Dutch people. I’ve learned here, I couldn’t accept other peoples or Arabs before. But here I’ve learned. And therefore, some people or some Dutch people also have to accept other peoples or other religions. Not the criminals, I agree. But if you’re Muslim or if you’re Hindu or if you’re Christian then you’re just people. We are, we are not one, we are… I mean, we’re different peoples. Yeah, someone wants to go to mosque. And that’s his religion. That’s not my problem. Or someone wants to go to church. He’s free or she’s free. And yes, only about that racism. But that’s, luckily, not a lot of Dutch people don’t have racism or something. A lot of Dutch people are against it. I like that very much.
Have you experienced this yourself, racism? Somebody said something to you?
No, I’ve never seen, never heard. But I’ve never seen against me, but I’ve heard via social networks, via Facebook, Twitter, yes, via news as well. Yeah, I mean, Dutch has to stay so democratic. Not through the other, for the other system. Like the Middle East system, or… American Latin system, not like that. The Netherlands just has to remain a democratic or a European country. Like it used to be. In the old days, for example, ten or twenty years ago,
[i] Yeah, what was ten or twenty years ago?
[r] Yeah ten, twenty years ago, I think, I’ve read a few articles, was better than now. The Netherlands did not have a party in the Lower House about, for example, or people like Geert Wilders about racism or about the differences between people. For example, in the 19…, in the 1990s up until 2000 or 2001. Until the attack against the tower in New York. After that, the Netherlands and the other countries also changed. You don’t really know.
And what makes you happy? What makes you happy?
Yes, if I… in Holland then, yeah, if people don’t have a fight against the tax or against, yeah, the system. Because now is also a bit different than before. I also hear people arguing against the tax increase for a long time. Or, yes… a lot of things have gotten high. For example, when I was here… I always say: when I came here I, yes, I made messages in ALDI or Lidl. And there I have a chicken for 2 euros and 50 cents or 3 euros. And now I buy for 5 euros, or more than 5 euros. And I don’t like that, but yes, I like the freedom and security here. But, yeah, if my family is safe, in Iraq, I’m happy too. I’m happy too, mostly with my brother. My brother is Peshmerga, fighting the Isis. He’s usually in the first, in the, on the border against Isis. He has four children. And he’s been on the border with Isis for three weeks or sometimes two weeks or fighting Isis again. And 1 week or 2 weeks at home. And yes, sometimes I’m doubtful, or sometimes I’m doubtful about his children. And about his wife.
[i] Are you worried?
Yeah, yeah. If he’s dead or being killed, then who’s gonna take care of his children? I have, yes I have previous… I also have for… for New Year’s one month, yeah, I lost my sister’s husband in December of 2014. He was also Peshmerga He has in, on the border of in the Mosul against Isis fight. But he was killed by Isis.
[i] My condolences.
Thank you. And he is, he has four or five children. And my sister is alone with four children. That’s what I think. Yeah. Sometimes I think, I have to think. Or sometimes I always think about their future or my brother or my mother, yeah.
[i] Those are big worries in your life.
[r] Yeah, yeah.
But fortunately, here you have… there are things that make you happy too, right?
Yeah, right here, yeah.
And how’s your love here? Are you in a relationship, or…?
I had, I had a relationship, one year, yeah, with a… Dutch girl, yeah. I liked that too. Have been together one year in Leiden. And we went to the beach or to the other cities in Holland. Sometimes with her or sometimes with me. And, yes, I also learned with her, but when I was with her I didn’t have a residence permit. That’s why I wasn’t happy. Did I find it a bit, bit difficult about my future, yes.
[i] I heard you about, say,
[r] Yeah.
[i] … about your studies, here, that’s what you’re doing. Is that in the early days?
[r] That’s right, yeah.
And you’ve met family, gotten to know them. And you want to help your family in Iraq, too.
[r] Yeah, if you can. Yeah, sure.
[i] I consider, if those are actually contributions Your contribution in Amsterdam, also in life in general. Is that, is there anything else you’d like to add? Or do you think so, do you need to say more about your contribution?
[r] My contribution … I think I told you almost right. Told almost everything. But my contribution… what exactly do you mean?
I mean, look, I mean we’re interested in contribution. Everyone has a contribution. Doing something, doing something, adding something to society, but also to yourself. So you’ve got, you’re gonna study, or you’ve studied here. And you’re helping your family. And you have other dreams in your life.
[r] Yes I do.
[i] What’s your dream anyway?
[r] Yeah, I’m also a journalist. I sometimes write articles in my own language, for the newspapers or for a website And … I’d like, yes that’s my dream, I’d like to work one, with politics, with the political parties or with politics. Or, in the future, I want to become a famous journalist. And, for example, mayor of a city here in the Netherlands. Or in Iraq I want, yes, how will I, do I want to be …
[i] You want to be mayor?
Yes, if that’s possible. Or join the Senate or the House of Representatives. If I can, I’ll try. Anything’s possible here, sure, yeah. Yeah, but I mean about me. If I have to try, that’s why I have to try. Then, I’m going to try. And, yes, I’d also like to try my… yeah, help my family. And my family’s safe, too. Without war or without Isis or without fundamental Islam, I don’t know. Or radical people. And here, too, I’d like to help steer this country. In the future, when I graduate, I will certainly support the Netherlands here. Support if the Netherlands get into disaster or get into problems like the other countries. Every country gets problems. But I hope not. But if the Netherlands gets into problems like this, then I am ready to help people and help this country. And the, this country’s future construction.
You said you write, what do you write?
I write about politics and religion. Yes, I won’t always, but sometimes I write articles for the newspapers in my own city. And the other cities in Kurdistan, too. And… yes, I’ve also done research on Islam and secularism. How can we, for example, mostly in Iraq. How can we secularize Islam. Or change Islam a bit, reform Islam. Like, I’ve read the theory of Maarten Luther and Jan [unintelligible] and Johan Calvin. How did they make Christianity, religion, reform. In European, in the European countries. We should also, they like to do the same. For there the, in the Islamic countries mostly in Iraq, obliged to remain under a lot of taboo. We shouldn’t go there. Yes, that’s why I did the research, but then I would also have had problems because of the imamen and the radical people. They don’t accept either.
[i] They don’t want the new idea.
[r] No, they don’t want it at all. Yeah, then you can’t write easily there. If you write something about religion or politics or a famous support family of problems or about corruption. Then you get bad luck, you have to go to jail. Or are they going, are they going to kill you. Yes, or the people, society or your neighborhood or the imam don’t accept you. Yeah, and that’s why I find it a little difficult. We can’t change Iraq that easily. I’ve read a lot of books and theory about the reform or the Dutch. The Netherlands also had problems between Catholics and Protestants in the 1950s Yes, I have heard and read the children, Protestant children also Catholic children could not play with Catholics or Protestants. She had… everyone had their own shop. Everyone had their own newspaper. Everybody had their own…
[i] Hairdresser.
Hairdresser, that’s right, yeah. Everybody had their own, own, own thing. But, now it’s completely different. Now everyone can live together. Now you also have Protestant or Catholic church, but they’re not against each other. Everybody’s free to go to church. Protestant, Catholic church, Protestant church go or Catholic church or everyone is free, have no religion. But in Iraq you can’t, the government doesn’t want another one. Because they work for money or for their families. Or for their tribe. In Kurdistan we also have two parties. Those two parties don’t want, don’t want to change at all. They have a lot of corruption. They have a lot … they don’t know many others. Yes, they have oil, they have money, but only under their hand. Their tribe, family, or their tribe. Yes, Barzani and Talabani. They also have, they don’t give freedom to the other parties. Also for the journalists. A few journalists have died because of those two parties. Yes, a few years ago.
And you wanted to change that. Or that’s your dream, actually.
[r] Sure, yeah, yeah, that’s why I said to you: I want to be mayor of a city, or become, because if I am a member of the Upper or Lower House, or become mayor of Erbil, for example, or of Baghdad, I will change the whole, whole things Or, yes, I will give more freedom, like that freedom I learned here. Why do people have, why are people here, feel free, And why do people here have freedom. Why in Baghdad they don’t have, yes. Should they have, like here. Do they have to accept, why not? This society or Amsterdam. Amsterdam that’s bigger and more famous than Baghdad. Or Erbil, I mean about freedom. Not about the area. But they don’t do anything. They have to look at Amsterdam, at the history of Amsterdam. They have to get experience through those people. They’ve lived here for years. Like the Iraqi people. For example, the Iranians, seventeen or twenty years they’ve lived here. Of course you have experience. And with that job or that ideal, you have a… That’s why if you want to live in Erbil or Baghdad, then of course you have experience. Do you have and do you want to change society. But, if they want to. If they don’t want to, then you can’t do it personally. That’s difficult, yes. And that’s why I’d like to, yes, try, like [unintelligible], first I said. He’s done a lot of things.
[i] You mean the Iraqi professor? Yes, the Iraqi professor. He’s got a lot of books on Iraqi society, on the role of religion in our society, on the…
Iraqi character?
[r] Yes, Iraqi character written. He has written about the problems between Sunnis and Shia. He has tried a lot, but Ba’ath-regime or Ba’ath-party has he also behaved [?] Hasn’t he? [unintelligible]. Behaves?
[i] Cheating.
[r] Cheating. Yeah, cheating.
[i] Threatening, yes.
[r] Yeah, threatening. He’s left Iraq. He had to leave Iraq. But, in 1995, he died. And that’s why he only wrote books. Only [inaudible] he only said about Iraqi society: Yeah, that’s your problem, that’s my problem, we have to change. Why don’t we change? Yeah, but, unfortunately, nobody listens to him.
Yeah, that’s complicated there…
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And you’ve also got, dream here, too. You said it was…
[r] Yeah, sure. Yes, I did. I have dream here too. Becoming mayor, first and second. Or a famous journalist, I don’t know, I got a little old, but that’s not important.
[i] You’re never old to learn. You can always learn.
[r] Yeah, yeah, always you can try or always you can learn.
[i] So your dream of becoming a journalist, too.
[r] Yes, Mayor, First or Second Member, First or Second Member of Parliament, or… Yeah.
[i] Do you have to wait long?
Yes I must, I hope so after ten years For the, I see my future in ten years … very well. Because, I’m gonna start now. And after ten years, maybe I can get a good job and… kind of be the U.S. Member, almost, yeah.
A lot of patience…
Yeah, I’ll just have to be patient and try.
Do you have anything else to add, your life or something. Or the last thing you want to say?
[r] No, last thing I want to thank you for everything. For this interview. I hope, those people who are gonna listen to us or listen to me… yeah, want our, like, want our future or want to help or support the Middle East countries or Iraq. Yeah, I hope that this document, or this interview… is gonna stay good for us. Yeah, I’ve told almost everything I think.
Yeah, well, thank you so much so much for your…
[r] For you too, thank you.
Yeah, thanks.
You’re welcome.