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22. april 2020- Omid Shams Iran/Århus/London

22. april 2020- Omid Shams Iran/Århus/London

Hvordan er det å være på flukt eller i eksil når verden rammes av en pandemi? 11 forfulgte forfattere rapporterer fra sin hverdag i en digital dagbok. Bidrag nummer to kommer fra Omid Shams, forfatter, journalist og litteraturkritiker fra Iran. Omid var fribyforfatter i Århus fra 2014 til 2016.

“The foreigner of foreigners” I once wrote. - Edmond Jabes

By: Omid Shams

I’ve been always a foreigner, even in my own homeland. My small, narrow, close set and almond shape eyes have sealed my fate. Back in Iran when I was little, among all the boys and girls with big black eyes, I looked like a boy from another world. Bruce Lee’s son, that’s who I was in my entire childhood. The title gradually evolved by time: Toshiro Mifune, Jackie Chan, Steven Segal, samurai guy, the guy from that Korean show, and “I don’t know man, you look like Mexicans to me”.

It wasn’t all about the look. It was also about all the weird things I used to read, watch and say. When everyone was obsessed with Rambo, I was in love with Dirty Harry. “who the hell is Dirty Harry?” my teacher asked.

- He is a detective sir! He catches Scorpio, a really scary psycho killer.

- Which planet are you from Shams? (and the whole class burst into laughter).

It was then when I accepted it. Just like Harry Callahan. I removed the badge of being a native and threw it away. I became a foreigner for the rest of my life. A foreigner doomed with bringing calamity. That’s true. It lives inside me and goes wherever I go. The very day I was born, 10 communists were executed in Iran, Bahman Nikzad, Javad Aghakhani, Ghalom Abolghassemi, Hassan Pahlevan, Fataneh Zarei, Zeinolabedin Sultani, Nasser Mar’ee, Fakhondeh Momeni, Manuchehr Noorafshan, and Keyvan Noori. Among them, Fatane Zarei was pregnant.

In 2011 I went to Italy to study and more importantly to avoid prosecution for co-editing an anarchist website in Iran. As I arrived in Turin, a former faculty member of my new university headed to Rome to become the next Italian PM. Mario Monti took the office, implemented the austerity measures and destroyed the lives of millions of working-class Italians. Even though I got beaten up by the riot police while marching beside my Italian comrades in the streets of Turin shouting “Fascisti di merda”, I knew It was my doing. I did that. I brought the crisis with me.

After finishing my study in Italy, I went back to Iran hoping the new “moderate” president has forgotten about my “sins”. He had not. So, I fled once again and this time to Denmark. When I arrived in Denmark, Social Democrats were in power. You could see posters everywhere that read “Foreigners, please don't leave us alone with the Danes”. About a year after, Danish People Party won the most seats in its entire history. DPP then in return provided parliamentary support for the government that passed the Jewellery Bill to seize valuables from refugees. The legislation reminded many of the Europe’s darkest hours back in 1940’s. It was all me. I did that to Denmark; I brought that dark shadow into that beautiful country. I left Denmark for the UK after I realised what I did. The crisis came along and took a new guise: the Brexit. I took the UK away from the EU and as if I haven’t done enough, I caused this: Covid19 outbreak.

I must confess it has never been this difficult. When Covid19 outbreak started I was once again marked as a Chinese. If you look Chinese, you DO NOT cough in public. You do not talk but English over the phone. The only difference is that now both of my forced identities are toxic. It’s not safe to look Chinese these days and it’s not healthy to be an Iranian any day.