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Mohammad Razai: “I’ve heard people say asylum seekers are criminal parasites.”

Photograph: Karen Robinson for the Observer

Mohammad Razai

Asylum seekers have a terrible press here in the United Kingdom. Vilified and demonised for years by sections of the British press Asylum seeker has now become a real term of abuse.

This is despite the facts that Asylum seekers can and do make real contributions toward British economy and have hugely contributed to the making of modern multicultural Britain.

That’s why it’s always a pleasure to report a story that disproves the racist myths often attached to their plight.

Mohammad Razai is one such example and his journey from the war torn back streets of Kabul in Afghanistan to the cloistered towers of Cambridge University represents all that is best about asylum seekers in the UK. Studying Pre Clinical Medicine and expected to pass with distinction Mr Razai is simply defying the stereotype often associated with those seeking political asylum.

Arriving in the UK at the age of 15 some 9 years ago. His story has all the twists and turns of a complex Hollywood movie thriller containing subterfuge, cultural and religious oppression, war starvation and survival. You can read more here.

Adopted on his arrival in the UK he found the generosity and sensitivity of his British foster mother who initially hosted him as overwhelming,

“When I saw this woman, she made us so welcome. I wondered how a human being could be capable of welcoming a stranger like this. I was not used to it. It opened a new world for me, a culture in which a child can be respected and valued as a human being. I was someone who could barely speak English, someone they had never met and they welcomed me into their own family home, where they lived and ate and slept. It transformed my world of anxiety.”

Mohammad has strong feelings about his adopted country,

“I love this country. I feel part of British society. And while I have huge admiration and respect for my own people, I cannot imagine myself owing so much to the UK and not being here in the future.” He says: “I really want to do something useful, to do some good in the world.”

Speaking on the problems faced by people like him seeking refugee, he is determined to prove the popular opinion wrong. What this case and many more like it prove beyond doubt is that discriminatory and abusive press headlines and popular opinion reflects nothing more than ignorance and dangerous prejudice

“I want to show people that asylum seekers are human beings with the same feelings, ambitions and dreams as everyone else. People don’t seek asylum unless they have to – leaving home, family and friends and embarking on a journey to the unknown under difficult and dangerous conditions is not easy.

I have heard people say asylum seekers are criminal parasites and some even call them ‘a threat to our future’, but I hope people realise that asylum seekers want to be active, responsible and self-reliant members of society and that demonisation is not helpful.”

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