Fatima Osborne: ‘It is important to talk about internal things within minorities’

Fatima Osborne works as an optometrist, she lives in Copenhagen and moreover, she is a Danish citizen with Somali background. We met at the Minority Talks event, held by the organization Mino Danmark, which brought people from different ethnic backgrounds together to discuss about the discrimination within minorities in Danish society. Fatima was one of the participants of the debate and as long as the debate was held in Danish, I have asked Fatima for an interview in English concerning the same topic which was discussed on the 12th September at the Copenhagen’s main library.

By Tereza Dornakova

Participants of the debate Minority Talks, from the left to right: Sara Aisha Von Magius, Fatima Osborne, Ibis Osmani.
“There is a lot of discrimination within the minorities in Denmark, basically the darker you are the lower you are on the hierarchy,” said Fatima. (Photo credit: Mino Danmark)

What is your personal experience with the discrimination within minorities in Denmark?

I have experienced a discrimination from the men coming from the Middle Eastern countries because they basically think that the black women are just prostitutes. For example, I was walking in my neighborhood, minding my own business and somebody spat on me and I looked up and there was a Middle Eastern man. He was just laughing.

So do you feel racism and discrimination towards you comes mostly from the Middle Eastern minority in Denmark?

Yes, because I am black but also Muslim and I have a lot to do with them. Unfortunately, the most horrific type of racism that I have experienced was in the house of God. So my whole life I have been at the mosque, in the place of worship, with Arabs who consider black women as prostitutes.

Do you have any idea where these stereotypes come from?

I do and Arabs do know where it is coming from but nobody talks about it. It a consequence of the Arabic slave trade, but nobody talks about it because slavery is mainly contextualized with America. However, between 10 and 17 million people, primarily women, were brought from East Africa to Arabia and sold to Spain, China. Some of them were kept as sex slaves in Arabia and this is the reason why they have so horrific view of black people, and mainly women, because they always have had that.

Is the view of black people in Arabic world still the same?

Yes, it is still going on, for example in Libya and Saudi Arabia, the black people are treated really badly as well as in all the Middle Eastern countries and the countries with Arabic background. We have to address that they are the whites for us.

Do you feel like the topic is discussed enough within the Danish society?

No, absolutely not and it should be discussed, even worldwide. We are used to look at the bigger issues but right now I am thinking that we are moving ahead and it is very important to talk about the internal things within the minorities, about the dirty laundry in the house.

So I decided to speak about it because in this country we are already viewed as the people who don’t have white colour, so we are already categorized in a very bad situation anyways. The Arabs don’t have it easy either but obviously, the darker you are, the less power you have.

This article was written for a British audience as a supplementary interview for the feature article “Danish debate: Are religious people happier?”, and could be published on https://www.theguardian.com/world/europe-news.