From being bullied to racially abused

If you were blond and blue eyed, you were automatically one of the ‘elite’. We immigrants were always considered as scum, of no worth and no use.

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If you were blond and blue eyed, you were automatically one of the ‘elite’. We immigrants were always considered as scum, of no worth and no use.

Being born in the German city of Essen and being of Iraqi descent sure had its difficulties whilst living in Germany.

I do have many good memories as my maternal side of my family all live in Germany, however it cannot be helped that the bad memories overshadow these memories.

One of the biggest reasons to why I do not think that I will be moving back to Germany any time soon is due to all the racial abuses I have faced while being there. I remember many instances where teachers were not shy of their racial comments to myself and other “foreign” classmates. This was the main label that was given to us even though we all were born in Germany and think, behave and act like ‘them’.

From a young age society taught us to separate different people rather than make us feel as a unified group. Separate yourself from others, do not trust anyone other than yourself, and make sure you use everyone to you personal gain; there is no “common good”.

If you were blond and blue eyed, you were automatically one of the ‘elite’. We immigrants were always considered as scum, of no worth and no use. One of the biggest issues was that teachers were technically able to racially abuse students with no backlash. An example was that when teachers would want to organise a class activity, they would split the classroom in two. I know what you are thinking: “down the middle right?”- no, not at all. They would split the classroom from Germans and non-Germans or “foreigners”.

It would break my heart as I remember vividly my best-friend was a German and he would ask “Sir, can I go to the other team with Hassan?” – “No, you are better than him.” I didn’t realise back then what it meant as I thought maybe he meant that he was academically better than me, even though my grades were always higher.

It was extremely difficult when the other ‘German’ students were encouraged to bully us as the ‘foreigners’. With table tennis, although my friends and I would get there first, we would be pushed and punched aside as they had a right over us, because we were not German enough. For God’s sake, I was born in Germany, I speak German better than Arabic, and all my friends are German. This was not the end of it though, what really made me mad and started to make me brush all the Germans with the same brush although it wasn’t right was the incident that my sister had to go through.

Imagine being 9 years old and in year 4, you start wearing the hijab proudly and can’t wait to show your friends as this is a sign of maturity. To be greeted to the worst fear at that time. So she starts wearing the hijab and goes to school, the day starts with an assembly. The deputy headteacher of the primary school calls you up and asks you to remove your hijab. She was shocked, yet still had the power in herself to stand up to that adult and refuses to do so. What happens then? The Deputy Headteacher forcibly rips off her headscarf in front of her friends, classmates, and year group.

The school calls my parent in for a meeting. They were greeted in a very disrespectful way. “Hello, what do you want?” my father replied: “You wanted to talk to me, not I to you. If it were up to me I would not speak to you.” When they realised that my father was able to not only speak German fluently but also was able to confront them comfortably, they began to look a bit uncomfortable. He started to ask why they physically abused her as they forcibly removed the hijab from her head. They tried to convince my father that she should not wear the hijab at that young age, as this could damage her character whereas the only thing that could damage her character at that time was their actions towards my sister.

She refused to go back to that school but eventually believed that her cause was very important and carried on wearing her hijab in school as my father threatened to go legal. We started to see something very encouraging, in that because my father and sister stood their ground and defended their belief, other young girls started to wear their hijab in school as well which showed that it only takes one small spark of courage to make a change in a community.

All in all, life was like a roller-coaster, with my ups and downs. I’ve learned from them, and they have shaped me into who I am today, and if it wasn’t for those experiences, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to pursue my life dreams. My time in Germany shows that despite the hardships in life, it may well be the very thing that pushes you to appreciate life just a little bit more.

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