I have been an immigrant in Stockholm for 20 years and witnessed the major changes that have taken place during that time.
It’s not only that we now have a fine mosque, which we didn’t have then. The changes have taken place across a much broader spectrum and at a much deeper level. In the ’80s, we were strangers in a strange country; now we have firm ground under our feet. We have become used to Sweden, and Sweden has become used to us.
Fifteen years ago, there were 20,000 Kurds in Sweden; now we are 50,000. All this means that various nationalities Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Pakistanis, Iranians have been able to form regular immigrant communities, and we have become visible. We have established associations, become organized and entered political life.
In the current Swedish Parliament, 28 members are immigrants or children of immigrants. Our mosque makes me proud. It is a gathering spot, a wonderful place to go on Fridays to worship and to meet friends. The Swedes also come to visit. They don’t see it so much as a house of God than as a house of culture. For me their coming here is acceptance, what I call integration.
Rohat Alakom is a Turkish Kurd author