Changing perspectives through media representation:

Ayad Salim, interviewed by Dilara Akarçeşme

Is there anything you want to add?

I want to say something about the society in Salzburg. I have to thank them, really. I know, we are not in paradise. There are some people who are against us, but they are few. I can understand that because the media promotes some misconceptions about refugees. Many people have reacted to us negatively. But in general, society is nice. From 2015 to now it has changed a bit. Some things changed for the better, some for the worse. But in general, people are open. I saw different cities here, but they were not open like Salzburg. With this Verein, I really hope to establish or pass on something to the next generation of Arabs to build on and for Austrian society to get to know more about them. For now, it looks like it will work out. The reactions of the society in Salzburg are good. But there is one big problem: the equalization of degrees.

For example, I have 19 years of experience in media. I am a teacher and have also some other qualifications. But until now, I could not use them. I think it is a pity to lose these assets and to now have to work in something I did not know anything about. It worked out, but it is hard. Why don’t they use our experience? This society does not only need workers. They also need some minds. The company I am working at consists of 95% Ausländer.*4 *(4) But there are different minds. It’s wonderful. If society would open up, they would have access to the areas of expertise of these people, too. It would be much better for society as a whole. The people themselves would learn, and society could make use of their experiences. I think probably more than half of the society in Salzburg were and are somehow Ausländer and now we live in this situation together. Different minds and an exchange of experiences would contribute to a better life for everybody. If I work in my own job, after they approve it, I will try even more because I want to be successful like I was before. It is an arena. It is a challenge and a motivation at the same time. We don’t just want to be working at a Lager*5 *(5) or Keller.*6 *(6) That kills all the potential.

Verein means ‘association’ or ‘club’ in German. These types of organizations are essential for public life and civil society in Austria. Usually they are formed by people who commit themselves to a specific common activity or cause and are run by a specified member structure and statutes.

Servus means ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ in German and is commonly used in parts of southern Germany and in Austria.

‘Bike kitchen’

Ausländer means ‘foreigner’ or ‘alien’ in German. The word is deliberately kept in German, since it is a significant keyword used in discourses of belonging in German-speaking countries (for example, see In the meantime, migrants from the second or third generation have also critically appropriated the term Ausländer for themselves in various contexts.


‘Cellar’ or ‘basement’

Dilara Akarçeşme, Ayad Salim (2020): Changing perspectives through media representation: Ayad Salim, interviewed by Dilara Akarçeşme. In: p/art/icipate – Kultur aktiv gestalten #11 ,