Words cannot describe how much I love Denmark. For me, it is not contradictory to be a Muslim woman with a headscarf and feel Danish. When I came to Denmark I cried a lot for a very long time. It was so hard to leave my family and come to a new town in a new country where I knew no one. I only coped because I had an understanding and very loving husband. He was my best friend - peace be with him.
All our children were born here, and we have tried to pass on the good traditions from the Danish and the Arab culture. My two sons have completed their university degrees, and are now in work, while my two daughters are still studying at university. When I came to Denmark, I dreamt of studying at the university, but when we had children, I decided against it. You have to have plenty of surplus energy when you deal with children and I do not regret my decision. My own dreams are fulfilled through my children, and I am proud that they use their abilities wisely.
Nobody has ever forced me to wear a headscarf. When I was 12, I chose to wear a scarf myself, although none of my older sisters wore them, but I took it off again when I was 16. When I first came to Denmark I didn't wear a headscarf, but I began to miss it. Not quite sure why: Maybe you look for roots when you come to a new country? None of my daughters wear a headscarf. To be honest, I wish they did, but I can't force them. It's their own choice.
Alia Ismail El-Aynein / 49 / female / widow / children / interpreter and runs the catering company A-Z in the Arab Kitchen / born in Lebanon to Palestinian parents / came to Denmark in 1991 / family reunion same year