Sam Edward - Between home's nostalgia and yearning for freedom
Sam Edward, a Syrian journalist, came to Sweden at the end of 2009 in search of freedom after being arrested by the Syrian regime, because an article he wrote criticizing the situation in Syria. Sam currently lives in Växjö with his wife and their child. He works at P4 Kronoberg. Sam Edward tells us about his life and the circumstances that led to his arrest.
– I grew up in a rural area of Syria, where I learned the simplicity, warmth and love of a family. The family is sacred to me and that is what I learned from my family and my grandfather.
Sam worked as an English language teacher for seven years, along with his work as a music teacher. But he was fond of journalism. It was a hobby, since he was a child.
– Besides my teaching profession, I worked as a journalist. Media has been my hobby since childhood. I loved to hold the microphone and imitate broadcasters. I grew up with talent but I could not study the media academically. That was because of the complexity of the admission procedures that required belonging to the Baath Party, I was not. But I practiced media in my life. I was 20 years old when I wrote my first article in a Lebanese newspaper called Moharer News. Which was allowed in Syria. The article replied on the opening of the editor-in-chief. Who wrote about the minorities in the Arab world. I wrote a historical and legal political argument about minorities, as I belonging to one Assyrian Christian minority in Syria.
Sam received the motivation and admiration of all those around him, after the first experience in journalism writing, which led him to move forward in achieving his dream, and work with media.
– The reaction of the people around me was positive. After the first experiment, which was a Political article in several media, such as the Iraqi newspaper Al Diaa in Arabic and Syriac. I worked also with Assyrian-language television channels that covered events related to social affairs cultural traditions and religious holidays which was allowed. No one dared to touch the political side.
The Syrian opposition began its activism in 2008, and Sam was among the journalists and civilian activists opposed to the suppression of the regime.
– We were writing articles critical of oppression, pressure and confiscation of rights and freedoms by the regime,on the Syrian opposition website. The most powerful article I wrote in 2008 under the title "Third Pests" was critical of the economic situation and the regime's policy of repression. I was arrested for three weeks, and after I was released, the authorities thought that I was a danger to the security of the state. As stated in the justification of the Ministry of Education. The danger came from teaching children the freedom to choose colors to draw letters and color it, stressing this is called democracy.
How was your trip to Sweden?
– I came to Sweden at the end of 2009 as a visitor. After I received an invitation from my sister who lives in Sweden. The Swedish Embassy in Damascus also provided me the necessary facilities to obtain a visa. In addition to the assistance of some Swedish journalists. When I arrived in Sweden I applied for asylum. It was difficult to go back to Syria, because the situation was very serious for me.
What were the difficulties that you faced in Sweden?
– The new community of course but the most difficult thing was my nostalgia for my homeland and family. I have been forced to leave my homeland, which I love and belong to. I left everything, my wife, my family and my beautiful memories. Even though some of my family and relatives live in Sweden and America, I never thought about immigration. I was very lucky because I have some journalists friends in Sweden and there are a large Assyrian community in Sweden. This made it easy for me to get a job on the Assyrian TV in Stockholm six months after my arrival in Sweden. Actually I consider the economic situation the real difficulty that newcomers can face. when they settle down economically, things get better.
How was your experience with the Swedish language?
- I had no difficulty learning Swedish, because God gave me extraordinary ability to learn new languages. As an English teacher, that helped me communicated with Swedish people. Then, I studied Swedish at the Swedish Institute for immigrants, SFI. I was able to finished it in a month and a half, a record period. I received 12,000 crowns as a prize, which was presented to those who finish SFI in a short period.
How did you start at P4 Kronoberg?
- I worked in a political talk show on Assyrian television in Stockholm for four years. This program was for all the Assyrians who followed us around the world. Then I moved to Växjö. I worked initially as an interpreter and a teacher assistant. After that I was a guest of a program at P4 Kronoberg, to comment on the situation in Syria. After Lee's participation in the Geneva talks which was Sponsored by the UN. I was hosted as an analyst for political events in Syria. Then I received an offer to work at the radio station. While working on the radio, I submitted a project as an Arabic section of Radio Kronoberg. The idea of the project was to translate Kronoberg news and broadcast it in Arabic. As well as conducting interviews with migratory characters, successful people in Sweden. There was also an educational program about Swedish society. The project has now stopped.
What do you think about Sweden's cultural diversity?
– Cultural diversity enriches the new society. I have my own philosophy that human values, such as faith in equality, freedom, justice and respect for others, are all human values that we can not say are Swedish or Syrian or belong to one people. They are human values. When one comes from one society to another society, which holds these values, believes in them and is able to apply them, the integration into the new society, becomes easier and more positive. It is a complement of practicing values, not merge. One must take the beautiful values of its society and the beautiful values of the new society and integrate them with one another and make a rich and positive culture.
Do you think there is a gap between Swedes and the newly arrived or immigrants?
– The larger the gap in values between immigrants and Swedes, the more there is a real gap in understanding and knowing each other. The best way to reduce this gap is to promote and clarify common human values. We should work to integrate different cultures. And reduce differences. It is like when one is a guest in a house, and must respect the traditions of the owner. As long as they honor and accept him in their home. One must appreciate and respect their privacy. The same applies to societies. One must respect the traditions of a new society. I say it again whenever there is a similarity in values, there will be no collision.
What is your opinion of the media in Sweden?
– Sweden is one of the countries whose constitution is based on four pillars, one of which is the Freedom of Expression. Sweden is also a very developed country in this field. The media in Sweden is characterized by transparency and neutrality . It does not follow any political authority.
What is your advice to immigrants?
– Some who come here are pessimistic and the first thing they by to their new apartment is a curtain. One imagines that it obscures the vision and the sun only, and forgets that the curtain can isolate them from the world. The Swedes do not isolate themselves behind the curtains, but rather put the nature roses and lights in their windows. One feels happy looking at a windows. Second, for Integration must take the initiative and create opportunities. Do not wait for anyone to knock your door and offer you to work with him. You must be in race with opportunities. Third, to find a job there are three keys, the first one is the language! You must learn Swedish if you want to settle in Sweden. The second key is communication with people, because relationships create opportunities. The third key is the competence, and expertise that you have. Finally, take care of your children, and teach them the love Sweden. teach them that this is their home which gave them a decent and safe life.