Gay, Syrian, and forsaken by society because of language and depression

by , under Enrique Tessieri


Farid* is a young Syrian who has lived in Finland for the past six years. He claims to have no friends in this country and suffers from depression and spent some time in a psychiatric ward. Farid is also gay.

When listening to Farid’s story, it becomes clear that he is a person without a societal seeing eye dog to guide him through the culture and bureaucracy of his new homeland.

Farid, who suffers from depression, blames his problems in Finland on racism.

“I have never been treated as badly in Syria and Lebanon, where I lived a few years,” he said. “Finland has crushed by life.”

Farid spoke about what happened a year and a half ago to him at the Helsinki Kalasatama health station.

“I was feeling terrible and wanted to get checked by a doctor,” he said. “The nurse turned me away and told me to leave because she did not believe I was sick. I had a fever of 38.8°C.”

Farid tried again.

“I retook another number, but it did not help and they showed me the door,” he continued. “Since I refused to leave, the nurse called the security guards who escorted me outside. I called the police.”

To make a long story short, they locked up Farid in a police van and drove him to the police station.

“I got a panic attack inside the van and started to kick the windows,” he said. “I yelled and asked at the top of my voice, where they are taking me?! Why am I inside the police van?! I got no answers.”

The police then proceeded to administrate pepper spray, which made matters worse.

“I am allergic and was worried that my body would react to the spray,” he said.

At the police station, matters got worse. When he demanded his rights, and to talk to someone like a lawyer, the woman police officer in charge told him that “he could not complain because he is a foreigner.”

Farid filed a complaint a week ago to the prosecutor general after trying, unsuccessfully, to complain to the National Police Board of Finland.

Another problem with Farid’s case is that it happened a while back and moved slowly, yielding no results.

Farid shows the bruises he incurred by in police custody. He claims that the police used a taser.

After the incident with the police, Farid contacted Seta, LGBTI NGO, but they could not help him in offering legal help.

He admits that the incident at the health station forced him to take different types of pills to lower his stress level and help him sleep.

“After the incident with the police at the health station, I could not sleep and saw nightmares,” he added.

For Farid, Helsinki’s social services counseling offices are an utter failure.

In the face of his limited Finnish and English, which he speaks much better, Farid claims that he has gotten very little help from social services. According to him, “the Finnish system has failed miserably” to help refugees that come from war zones.

“The system has failed to integrate [refugees] into society and to help alleviate their psychological problems [likr post-traumatic syndrome] before coming to this country,” he continued.

“The police must also be trained to serve foreigners much better. They should not attack people with mental illnesses, hit them, and make fun of them just because they are foreigners and show their racist behavior.”

Farid admits that he feels lost in Finland.

“I feel so desperate because nobody tells me what I’m supposed to do and what forms I am supposed to fill out,” he said. “Even the manager of the social services office told me a while back that she wanted to kill me but later admitted that she was only joking.”

Once Farid created a commotion at social security when an employee falsely claimed that he had a bomb in his bag.

“It happened after I said that everyone would have to leave the premises,” he continued. “No bomb was in my bag, but they accused me of making threats.”

He alleges that one social worker told him that Arabs are a threat to Finland.

I can deduct two things after listening to Farid’s life in this country: how lonely and desperate he must be, and how the system has failed him to get out of his social and psychological quagmire.

*Farid is an assumed name.