Hassan Blasim: ‘A Refugee in the Paradise that is Europe’

This short text by Iraqi short-story writer and playwright Hassan Blasim, translated by Jonathan Wright, has been circulating again on social media, in the wake of a ban that strips US visa-holders and permanent residents of Iraqi origins of their right to enter the US. And so we re-post:

Blasim reading. Image from his website.

Blasim reading. Image from his website.

You escape death.
They hit you on the border.
They insult you in the racist newspapers.
They analyse your child’s dead body on television.
They get together and discuss your past and your future.
In their pictures they draw you drowning.
They put you in their museums and applaud.
They decide to stop hitting you and set up a military unit to confront you.
Academics get new grant money to research your body and your soul.
Politicians drink red wine after an emergency meeting to discuss your fate.
They consult history in search of an answer for your daughter, who’s freezing in the forest cold.
The neo-Nazis insult you and burn down your house.
The neo-fascists climb their way into parliament on your shoulders.
You are the nightmare of people old and new.
They weep crocodile tears over your pain.
They come out in demonstrations against you and build walls.
Green activists put up pictures of you in the street.
Others sit on their sofas, comment wearily on your picture on Facebook, and go to sleep.
They strip away your humanity in debates that are clever and sharp as knives.
They write you down today and, with selfishness as their eraser, make you disappear the next morning.
They expect to come across their own humanity through your tragedy.
They take you into their paradise, then flog you night and day with their horror at your eyes, which radiate fear and hope.
The past goes to sleep, and wakes up inside you.
The present engulfs you.
You produce children for their paradise and grow old.
You die.

Translated By Jonathan Wright


    1. It was on his Facebook. I’m sorry, I don’t see it right now.

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