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Jan Pêt Khorto


I actually felt more foreign in Syria than I do here. In Syria I was rejected not only by the government but also by the Kurds and the opposition. The Kurds hated me because I did not engage sufficiently in the Kurdish cause. The opposition hated me because I did not believe that Syria’s problems could be solved simply by replacing the government. And the government hated me because I was constantly critical of it. As I already lived in exile, returning home is not even an option and it has no meaning. Home is not necessarily where you are born, but where you feel free. Through my literature, I have created a mental space, which is my home, and which I can enter regardless of where in the world I am.

I worked as a journalist in Syria, but I was expelled from university because of my political activities. I spent 107 days in a prison in Damascus, where my fingers were repeatedly broken during interrogation. Those days became the turning point of my life, and I made a pact with myself that nobody would ever use their power to control me again. I am interested in subjects like Islamophobia, Orientalism and Occidentalism. I want to understand these times in the light of history, and I intend to work artistically and scientifically to change the Western view of the Orient and vice versa.

When Nietzsche declared that God was dead, people started talking about things they had never previously talked about. In the same way I aim to inspire a new debate and create a dialogue which can change established world views. I write to put words to the things people are afraid to talk about.

30 years / male / in a relationship / writer and political science student / Copenhagen NV / from Syria / Kurdish background / came to Denmark in 2009 / residence permit in 2010

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