â€œMy little cousinâ€™s name was Mario. I loved the kid very much and went everywhere with him. When he got diagnosed with cancer, I tried to spend as much time with him as I could. I took him for ice cream and listened to him talk about Spongebob, his favourite TV show. Mario had to endure seven surgeries and in the end, his head looked like a map with all the stitches and cuts.
Five years ago, he died. I wanted to express my grief by getting a tattoo in his memory. Maybe I should have gotten a Spongebob tattoo; Mario would have liked that. Instead, I decided on a cross and an empty teardrop beneath my eye. It symbolizes the loss of a family member.
I knew that tattooing my face wouldnâ€™t resonate well with many people in Iraq, but I didnâ€™t anticipate how bad it would get. I had always been working out and wasnâ€™t afraid of arguments. But recently, being a Christian became a really bad thing in Iraq. So when I got the tattoo, I started to get into a lot of trouble. Some people told me that one night they would come to my home and remove it with a knife. I couldnâ€™t stay there any more.
I believe in God and in Jesus and donâ€™t want to get threatened because of my religion. When I arrived in Austria, I experienced that people here are much more open. At the refugee camp in Traiskirchen, I got to know some nice people from the Mosque. They did not care whether I was Muslim or Christian and during Ramadan, they handed out food in the evenings… for everyone.â€