By Moustafa El-Fayomee
Denmark has had a calm history of immigration up until recently, when anti-Islamic rhetoric has been on the rise as the number of Muslims in Denmark slowly increases. The cartoons depicting Mohamed in 2005 originated in Denmark and sparked a wide backlash of criticism and boycott towards Denmark, resulting in the rise of nationalistic sentiment and a growing Islamophobic society.
This is the first time I am fasting outside of Egypt and the thing I find the most difficult in Denmark is the fact that the sun sets as late as 10 PM. As a guideline for countries like this, we are allowed to schedule our fast according to Mekkah’s hours, although some Muslims here choose to observe the traditional sunrise to sunset fast. Ramadan is part of the culture in Egypt, but not here. We don’t have the lights covering balconies, the street decorations hanging from roof to roof decorated with lamps or phrases from the Q’uran and no special songs played on the radio. It really makes me homesick. Ramadan is also a very social time and because Muslims are a social people, this is a time where you share Iftar with your friends and family. It is hard to keep willpower here because the social life more often than not involves alcohol, and even if you are a drinker, now is the time to avoid it completely. Living in a small town means that there are very few Muslims here. The larger cities have Muslim communities, and many celebrate together, but it is not the same atmosphere as back in Egypt. Here Ramadan doesn’t exist. And so I celebrate my first Ramadan outside of Egypt alone. I pray and read the Q’uran every day when I can, and break fast in silence.