September 23, 2023

“Flying Crows”: by the Syrian Writer Kamiran Harsan

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The Other Face of Sweden

The Syrian-Kurdish novelist, Kamiran Harsan, tries in his novel Flying Crows (London: Ramina Books, 2023) to show another side to Sweden, challenging the country’s reputation as a place that welcomes refugees and the displaced. Opening with the Board of Health and Welfare swooping in to snatch children from their father on the pretext that he is endangering their lives, the book uncovers a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly widespread in Sweden, and claiming the attention of the refugees living there.

The narrative begins with a chapter called “A Creepy Visit”, in which the narrator explains his sufferings at the hands of the local authorities, who blindside him with the news that they are going to take his children. They claim they have a court order for this. Jandar, the narrator, is unprepared for this police raid on his house, which is located outside the walls of the city. They tell him the shocking news: he will be taken to a social-welfare centre until his case goes before a judge. He has no choice but to comply.

Jandar attempts to object. He tries to hold on to his son, Deliar, and he tells the officials their actions are not fair. Their behaviour scares the boy. Jandar continues to speak to them. He asks them to reverse their decision and consider its ramifications. However, they ignore his appeals and advise him to comply with the rules, and they take his son from him.

The heartbroken father describes the loss of his children. He portrays how he returns home to weep silently with sorrow and resentment at the status quo. He has been compelled to make a choice that has stripped him of his fatherhood. He fled to this country to save his family, but now he helplessly sees it fall apart.

He mentions his great astonishment at the officials’ arrival. They wasted no time at the door but rather burst into his house without taking off their shoes. They did not bat an eyelid at taking his children on the pretence of saving them. He also talks about how their sudden arrival made his blood run cold until he froze like a statue as they barged through his home, feeling as if they were stabbing knives into his heart and soul.

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