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"We are children of war”.. Are we recreating our violent environments in Europe?

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Life Diversity Arab Migrants

Thursday 14 September 202303:22 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

"نحن أولاد الحرب"... هل نكرر خلق بيئاتنا العنيفة في أوروبا؟


Why do Arabs engage in conflicts and among themselves when living abroad..!? Whether these conflicts manifest as workplace disputes, intellectual disagreements, or even escalate into violent clashes and feuds among clans and gangs that end up claiming lives.

It's essential to delve into the concept of Arab fights and confrontations in foreign lands, a topic that demands in-depth discussion.

"We've spent half our lives trying to escape the reality and conflicts that the political and social conditions in Syria have created. However, after we succeeded and arrived here, we now find ourselves recreating them," describes Talal M., a 39-year-old man who often finds himself nostalgic and longing for brawls while living in Germany. He tells Raseef22, "We grew up in environments, neighborhoods, towns, and districts in Syria where conflicts were a regular occurrence. Perhaps these quarrels subsided after the war because people became preoccupied with the larger conflict, but they remain deeply rooted within us."

Talal recounts an incident on what's known as the "Arab Street" in the Neukölln district of Berlin, "I was walking down the street when suddenly a fight broke out among a group of young men, some of whom I knew. Within seconds, I found myself in the middle of the brawl, trying to break it up. When I unexpectedly received a punch, I became involved in the altercation. It was a strange feeling. I felt ashamed of myself after the fight ended, but I was haunted by a strange feeling – a mix of nostalgia and longing for the past."

"I found myself in the middle of a brawl in Berlin's 'Arab Street' as soon as I saw it break out. It was a strange feeling. I felt ashamed of myself after the fight ended, but I was haunted by a strange feeling – a mix of nostalgia and longing for the past"

Psychological specialist Yara Salem describes Talal's experience as a state of contentment he achieved by reverting to a reality he was accustomed to during his youth – which is the state of Syria's alleyways before the war, with all its problems and the recklessness of its youth. This underscores the role of the environment in reinforcing such behaviors, as the environment in which a person grows up and the social interactions they engage in can significantly influence their propensity for violence.

Regarding the reasons behind the prevalence of this behavior pattern among some, Salem, who resides in the Netherlands, states, "Personal psychological factors and life experiences can play a crucial role in shaping an individual's inclination towards violence. Given that a segment of Arabs was born in environments characterized by aggressive personalities and internal conflicts, the desire to engage in violence intensifies. Whether it takes the form of verbal confrontations and constant bickering or escalates into physical violence and assault."

Salem further adds, "Arabs residing in Europe encounter cultural and social challenges when acclimating to new surroundings that starkly contrast with their home countries. These challenges impact social dynamics and interactions, fostering heightened tensions and conflicts with the host community. Some are also exposed to discrimination and inequality in employment, education, and access to services, whether within their own community or in interactions with European citizens. Such circumstances can breed feelings of injustice and anger, amplifying the potential for aggressive conduct."

"We spent half our lives trying to escape the reality and conflicts that the political and social conditions in Syria have created. But now after we've arrived here, we find ourselves recreating them. It seems these conflicts remain deeply rooted within us"

Futile national debates!

Arab communities frequently serve as platforms for political discourse and protracted debates that have become Byzantine in their complexity. These debates often revolve around assigning blame for the predicaments faced by Arab countries. This environment occasionally offers fertile ground for disputes among community members, which can escalate from heated arguments to physical confrontations.

Omar Bahnsawi, a 51-year-old Iraqi, candidly shares with Raseef22, "Regrettably, we hail from nations steeped in conflict, rife with political and social schisms that occasionally take on sectarian dimensions. Arab gatherings in places like Belgium present prime opportunities for these gatherings and, consequently, political clashes. As these disputes intensify, they can spill over into families, neighborhoods, or workplaces, resulting in clashes among us."

"Personal psychological factors and life experiences can play a crucial role in shaping an individual's inclination towards violence. Given that a segment of Arabs was born in environments characterized by aggressive personalities and internal conflicts, the desire to engage in violence intensifies" – Psychologist Yara Salem

Omar recounts a personal incident in which a sectarian political disagreement with his colleague Abdullah, aged 47, led to him losing a crucial job promotion. He explains, "I had vouched for his appointment to the job, and he secured it. However, disputes between us arose shortly thereafter when our non-Arab colleagues at work inquired about the situation in Iraq and the factors exacerbating the plight there. The disagreement escalated to the extent of a complete rift between us."

Omar could not have foreseen that Abdullah would undermine him at work, deliberately impeding his productivity and thwarting his prospects for a promotion to the role of HR Manager. Consequently, the conflict escalated, creating considerable embarrassment within their professional circle.

We are children of war

Arab migrants are the progeny of countries scarred by war and mass displacement, where the very foundations of life were shattered. A substantial proportion of them bore witness to wars firsthand, enduring the horrors of death, destruction, forced displacement, arrests, torture, and grave violations of human rights. These traumatic experiences cast a profound psychological shadow on an individual's behavior towards others. Additionally, the formation of Arab communities provides fertile ground for the exchange of stories, rumors, and narratives, which can inadvertently fan the flames of conflict and animosity, often spreading from the younger generation to their elders, and from women to men, sometimes even enveloping entire families and tribes.


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