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Safeta ObhodjasSafeta Obhodjas

My Writing in German

Veröffentlicht am 17.02.2021

 Living and Writing as an Author in Exile

 Published in German, in Magazine “Frauenrat” 2007


My native country is Bosnia and Herzegovina. I didn’t want to leave my land. 1992 the Serbs carried out their Actions named “ethnic cleaning” in Bosnia. All Muslims had to leave, or they would be destroyed and executed. I immigrated with my family to Germany. Although it was an unknown culture for me, I was happy to be in a free country, where I could work and at the same time learn a lot. German became my second language; in which I developed my writing.

 My first phase in Germany 1992-95 was a refugee-agony: I worked as a cleaner, (I had 3 Jobs), took care of my family and studied German.  It was the time I couldn’t sleep because of war in my country. I had my parents, many, many friends and colleagues in Bosnia, who suffered hunger and bombardments. There had pillaged death, hunger, misery and there were so many needs in my country. Bosnian tragedy was present in all media; you could see its dieing live on TV every day.

Lot of Germans tried to help the people in Bosnia and collected humanitarian help for them.These Germans needed a person, who had war experience and could speak about that and the problems in Bosnia. I wanted to help with telling the truth about the war in Bosnia in Bosnian language. I couldn’t do it in German language without good Germans skills. Study of German language became my obsession. Few years later I could write in German.

 At this time the publishers were looking for Literature from Bosnia. But they didn’t want to publish my novels und stories. The mainstream of the German publicity had an illusion about life in ex-Yugoslavia before the war. They liked the books of authors, who described Sarajevo’s cosmopolitism and harmony between cultures and religions in Tito’s country. I didn’t have a fairy-tale story with this theme. In my prose I described the complexity of women’s situation in this patriarchal society, especial of Muslims women. Some lectors liked my still of writing and they wanted me to write a love-story. “I don’t write love-novels. I wrote about women in Bosnia, they were exploited in name of love, even of their own families – I answered. “Now we don’t need an emancipation. You should write a book about love between a Serbian boy and a Muslim girl. Such story we can good sell now.”

I couldn’t write about an order theme and I continued working as cleaner. Few years later I found a small publisher, who preferred the literature from the small Bosnian culture with Islamic roots.

My refugee-phase finished with my first published book between 1996-97. After that I was at the same time a cleaner and an author in exile. 1997 I got an invitation to Symposium “Publishing in exile”, where I should talk about my swing between cultures: Islamic, Slavic, Europeans and about my exile in Germany. There was so much discussion about situation of Authors in a foreign culture. At the symposium I would never forget a sentence of a female speaker: Women in exile are the best cleaner of Germany. Most of them are very educated.

I was a cleaner but an author too.

 1997-98 I was a happy writer because of support, which I got from few culture institutions. I had enough money for my existence and first time in my life enough time for my writing. German skills helped me to collect information about the situation of migrants in the German society.  I couldn’t understand, why politics and culture’s authorities didn’t show more interest to find a solution for the problems of migrants. Many of them did the problems identification of not to succeed integration but they seldom established the projects, which could prevent formatting of parallel societies in the German cities.  Women in exile are not only the best cleaner of Germany but they are keeping the old tradition and customs from forsaken land. And they should bear all cruel of this circumstance. The emancipation fighters stay always alone and get hardly support in the German society.

 1998 I met in the art village Schoeppingen a poet from Iraq with same destiny as me. His name was Sargon Boulus and he had roots in the old culture of Babylon. He was Assyrian and Christ from Orient and I Muslim and European. His absolute homelessness touched me, and I was enthusiastic about his knowledge of East history.

Both of as were swinger between cultures and curios about expiries of each other. Through exchanging of stories about our native countries and exile we developed a book project “Legend and Dust – on the Christ- Muslims paths of hearts.”  We finished the manuscript in Bosnian and German. But no one publisher wanted a dialog-book between a Christ and a Muslim. One of them told me, I should take only my story but there must be more sacrifices of a Muslim woman. If I described my suffering in the Family, she would publish our book because of my good writing.

I needed money, but I couldn’t destroy our dialog-idea. Few years late a lector took our manuscript, because he was going to found a book-series “Meeting of Christ and Muslim.” I got no money but the Book “Legends und Dust”. Our dialog- book was published. I continued my job as a cleaner and provided the ridings.

After a while I noticed, that my reader did lot of PR for me. They liked the way of my writing; for them it was something new and important.

And then it happened September 11. The Terror stroke in NY shocked and changed all world. After the painful happening the publicity in Germany had to do confront with the problem “Islam in Europe.” But politics and median forgot again to be constructive. They treated this theme either extreme hostile or extreme political correct. The political correctness scared to make angry the fundamentalists in the Islamic community. The redactions made interviews only with devout Muslims. With them only the Koran-experts got a big forum. On TV few panel discussions ran every day, always with the same actors. Sites of new-papers were fool with the articles of their statements.  Sometimes taught us a young, elegant lady with much make-up, what Muslims woman must to wear, if she wants to be accepted as a decent woman in her community. Second time a man with bard preached about woman’s duties in her family. The self-realization would be a sin for a woman, she should live only for her family. A young social worker with a headscarf admitted, that women in the Islamic communities went through much violence. But she tried to talk to imam. By his predict in the mosque he would admonish the men not to beat their women. You mustn’t beat your wife or sister, because the Prophet didn’t do that.

I was wandered, where this woman lived: in a strong Islamic country with Sharia law or in a Europe’s state, there were all laws to protect an individual?


The hostile medians had at theirs programs only negative themes from parallel societies: forced marriages, honor killing, radical young men, disasters at the schools.Many publishers wanted the manuscripts abut abused Allah’s daughters; with such books you could earn a lot of money.

Again, I didn’t have the suitable manuscripts neither for the political correct nor for the hostile redactors. For the first I wouldn’t expire enough suffering for the second were my thinking und writing to European. I’m going to tell you a cynical anecdote: A Journalist wanted to make a film-portrait of me. After reading hers film-manuscript the redactor derided us: The portrait of a Muslim without headscarf, who wasn’t raped or bad treated. Such stories wouldn’t be interesting for our public.

I don’t know, whether those redactors would ever understand, that they are wrong. During my working as a writer I met so many German people, who were expecting from the media to show the public many different points of view about Islamic issues. The publicity wanted to know Muslim, who are connected with their Islamic culture but at the same time their thinking wasn’t dogmatic. I hope: the voices of Muslims, who wish to live as Europeans and reject every terror and violence, are going louder.



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