BIRGITTE VESTERMARK, born 1965, author, holds a MA in Middle East studies and is a foreign affairs journalist with focus on the Middle East. Today, living in Denmark after three years as a correspondent in Eastern Europe and three years in the Middle East.
Himlen over min fars tag
Louise Langhoff Koch
+45 2265 5368
"TOMORROW I GO TO SCHOOL WITHOUT A SCARF," I SAID SERIOUSLY.
MY VOICE WAS CLEAR AND CALM" WHICH DID NOT REFELCT THE CHAOS OF FEAR AND JOY, EXPECTATION AND UNCERTAINTY THAT RAGED WITHIN ME.
MY MOTHER LAUGHED NERVOUSLY: "WELL, THAT'S NOT FOR YOU TO DECIDE."
"YES, IT IS," I REPLIED.
"YOU CAN'T DO THAT! WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY." HER VOICE HAD RISEN TO AN ALMOST HYSTERICAL LEVEL.
"IT IS NOT ME TO WEAR A SCARF," I SAID.
"MAYBE ONE DAY I'LL FIND A WAY BACK TO IT, BUT NOT NOW.
Zeinab Mosawi was 16 when her father left her with their family in Iraq - the teenage girl from small town in Denmark, who refused to wear a scarf, had become a bit too Danish.
Five months later she managed to escape from Iraq. She came home to a new life at shelters and residence homes. But she also came home to her girlfriends, to school and to love.
When Zeinab Mosawi is left with her Iraqi family during a vacation and realizes that she has in fact been sent on a rehabilitation journey, it is the culmination of a long period of humiliation, beating and suicidal thoughts in the family home in Allerød.
Zeinab wants to decide for herself. And time and time again it leads to a clash with the parents about everything from clothing to parties and sleepovers and camps. Zeinab does not want to be different from her Danish girlfriends. But her parents fight their independent daughter with everything they have.
After five months of involuntary stay in Iraq, Zeinab succeeds in fleeing. But back at home the struggle to decide for herself is far from over. Zeinab must live at a women's crisis center and in a safe house with other girls suffering a life crisis. The authorities are afraid of her father and of what he can do.
'Heaven above my father's roof' is a story of humiliation, beating and suicidal thoughts but also a book about not giving up, about daring to defy the norms, to oppose the authorities and to never ever give up the fight to become accepted for who you are.
Told to Birgitte Vestermark.