Bilal Elfout

At work I am just like everybody else, and when I come home I am just me. I have many dreams for my life in Denmark, but my biggest dream of all is to be able to live in Palestine. I have a key for the house that my grandparents left back in 1948. It has been passed on from generation to generation as a reminder that we, at some stage, will return home.

After September 11 I went to the Danish media to point out that the attacks did not reflect the thoughts of all Muslim people. I wanted to build bridges, but the media just created a divide, and the group of moderate Muslims, who used to engage in debates, got fed up with lining up for the media. Many of us had entered the debate with an expectation of mutual respect, but we were met with a one-sided demand to subject ourselves to the freedom of speech and tolerate that our religion was made into laughing matter. And we were expected to distance ourselves from this and that - hijabs, circumcision, halal slaughtering. We come from a diverse society.

But if we all have to be Danish in exactly the same way, people lose their desire to engage in society. And that is a problem, because if I want to keep the halal meat, the scarf, etc., I have to do something. In the run op to the last municipal elections, I started the initiative “Yalla Vote” in order to get people to voice their complaints via the voting booth rather than complaining from the couch, but it is getting harder to get people to join these initiatives. I want to continue building bridges, but I sometimes doubt if it will be of any use.

48 years / male / in a relationship / children / system administrator / Copenhagen N / born in a refugee camp in Lebanon / Palestinian background / came to Denmark in 1986 / residence permit same year