Bornean Sabah Farjo in the spotlight in Zwolle



It has been 175 years since the revised Constitution was adopted. Thorbecke’s constitution is seen as the basis of the parliamentary democracy of the Netherlands. For the Province of Overijssel, there is every reason to reflect on the historical event and in particular on Article 1 of the Constitution: “All those in the Netherlands are treated equally in equal cases. Discrimination on grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or on any other basis is not permitted.”

Exhibition in the provincial government building

The artwork ‘On any ground’ was unveiled in the provincial government building last Friday, using soil from all parts of the world to emphasize the diversity of its inhabitants. There are also portraits and personal stories of eleven Overijssel residents from various cultural backgrounds on display. One of them is Bornenaar Sabah Farjo. He attended the official opening by King’s Commissioner Andries Heidema on Friday. Mayor Jan Pierik was also present.

Flee from Iraq

Farjo, now 71, fled the terror of ISIS in Iraq more than ten years ago. As a member of the Christian minority in that country, he unfortunately knows all too well that equality is not self-evident everywhere. “It is wonderful that a ban on discrimination is enshrined in the law here. That is extremely important! There was so much suffering in Iraq. Murders, kidnapping, I have experienced it all.” Farjo still has nightmares and has now been diagnosed with PTSD, for which he is being treated in the Netherlands. “I can slowly rebuild my life here.”

Happy in Borne

Nothing but praise for the Netherlands and Borne in particular. “It’s so friendly here. All my neighbors are fantastic! They take care of us like family. We barbecue together and, what’s that called… play shuffleboard together. We don’t feel alone here.”

Farjo believes that he was extremely lucky that he and his wife ended up in Borne. “The mayor asked me on Friday if I need anything. “Why would I need anything? “I live in paradise,” I said.” Farjo is well aware that it is more difficult elsewhere in Europe. “My children live in the suburbs of Paris and things are really different there.” But in Borne Farjo notices no discrimination. “We feel respected.”

The law and practice

Farjo’s outpatient supervisor, Leon Harmaz (left in the bottom photo), has a more nuanced view about the effectiveness of Article 1 in the constitution. “Unfortunately, this is not always the case in practice. In Iraq, discrimination is common practice and the laws provide no protection against it. In the Netherlands we have at least enshrined the prohibition of discrimination in law. And that is worth a lot.” (AJ/BM)

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