Rabih Azad-Ahmad

Soura

When are you foreign and in relation to what? I am not a foreigner to myself and think it is an enrichment being able to draw on several cultures.

People have their own definitions of Danishness. For me it is Danish to create and make room for each other. When I arrived in 1989, I was greeted by a diverse country - people dressed as they fancied, talked freely, listened to each other and could choose to live roughly as they wanted. It is a pity when someone begins to limit this diversity and define Danishness so narrowly that it excludes and alienates.

When I was younger, I cared about how I was perceived by others, and felt alienated when I was tarred with the same brush as the media's refugee-stereotypes. I always had to explain or defend myself.

Today there are Danish dissidents, e.g. criminals, or people who may have attitudes which are far from what is Danish culture, but who still believe that I am more foreign than they are, just from my appearance or ethnic background.

I went into politics because I was frustrated with the school system. All children should be given a chance, regardless of background, colour of skin and name. I went to Nordgårdskole, where there were only immigrants. When I was 15, a friend asked: What about you? What are you going to do? I wept, because I could do nothing and had no hope. I set out to create a future and it became a long struggle to get a proper education. I became a lawyer and have been a member of Aarhus City Council since 2007. As long as I can contribute something, it is a perfect place to be.

I love the bay of Aarhus and find peace in my garden where I grow vegetables. As a surprise, I’m going to take my mother out travelling for Easter, just the two of us. I'm looking forward to it. My family means a lot to me.

Rabih Azad-Ahmad / 43 / married / children / Counselor for Culture and Citizen Services in Aarhus Municipality / born in a refugee camp in Lebanon / came to Denmark in 1989.