Nour Al-Hariri

Produced by: Sharq.Org
Part of the Curated Collection: Peaceful Coexistence in the Diaspora,
Original Interview Length:
Interview Location: Berlin, Germany
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Nour Al-Hariri is 25 years old and currently lives outside Berlin with her husband and children. She is originally from Deraa, and arrived in Germany in 2015. She was helped by relatives to come to Germany, and arrived by aeroplane.

She has a baby girl and is the mother of 3 other children - those of her brother-in-law who died in prison being tortured.

She is now training in computer science having worked in and left the field of accounting, which she did not like. The German working conditions are hard, as are the hours, and with her husband working as a pharmacist all day she felt that it was not possible to work such long hours with 4 children. She studied sociology in Syria but had to flee before finishing her final year.

She says that she has changed enormously since living in Berlin, especially in terms of opening up her life and pursuing interests. She met lots of people at work, and really enjoyed this. She attends free public lectures on diverse subjects including religion, sexuality etc. and discovered that Judaism is very different that the “ignorant, frankly stupid” ideas they had in Syria, and that sexual orientation is not necessarily a choice but nature. She herself gave a talk about masculinity after having attended many lectures on the subject. She now would not be horrified to find out that one of her children was gay.

She also integrated sports into her life and regularly exercises. She wears a headscarf and is content with her religious identity and does not desire to change it. She says many Syrian Muslim women she knows stopped wearing a headscarf because of job requirements. She does not judge them but does not wish to follow suit.

Early after her arrival at Dresden (where she says people hate foreigners), a mentally unstable man hit her with a bottle on a bus, jumped off and got away. She cried in anguish and the bus driver finally stopped and came to apologize on his behalf, saying he was a crazy drunk man. She was most distraught by other people’s passivity and lack of intervention both during the incident and while she sobbed. Another separate time a man shouted at her saying “Germany is for Germans.” She was depressed the first 2 years after she arrived and she felt that she had lost everything, lived in a hostile place and she had too many responsibilities.

She felt relieved to move to Berlin and feels more comfortable here. She started to study, and people were so supportive when she showed up with her little baby to classes and helped her carry the baby outside when she fussed. She gradually started to feel that she was not “finished,” and could do many things with her life. She is very motivated and excited about her life now.

She pursues friendships and a social life with Germans, Syrian and Arab friends.