Gabriel Shamoun: The Story of an Exemplary Immigrant

Gabriel Shamoun
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This nice Syrian boy from the photo didn’t slit anybody’s throat, nor did he blow himself up. On the contrary, soon Gabriel Shamoun, an exemplary immigrant will begin medical studies in Sweden.

Gabriel Shamoun is a refugee, who can serve as an example for the process of integration. He is 20 years old and less than two years ago came from Syria with his parents and brother.

In Syria, Gabriel Shamoun graduated from high school. His parents, who are from Al-Kamishli, a city in the northern part of the country controlled by Kurds, encouraged him to study. His mother is a dentist, his father an ophthalmologist. “The worst were daily shortages in power because I couldn’t read. I was worried that I wouldn’t finish my school with the best grades, which would prevent me from studying medicine. Therefore, I woke up everyday at 5 am to be able to read until sunset” says Gabriel Shamoun.

He graduated from high school with the best grades and in September 2014 his family relocated to Sweden.

In Sweden he was told that he could not continue his education without the court granting his family asylum, which takes up to a year. Not to waste any time, he started learning Swedish on his own. He bought books on grammar and read Swedish classics, mainly August Strindberg. “Sometimes one sentence took me a day to understand and memorize, and a page would take a week”, he recalls.

Unfortunately, people didn’t understand when he spoke to them in the classical Swedish dialect, so he resorted to modern literature, for example “The Da Vinci Code” that he had read before in Syria. “My day consists of reading, eating, and sleeping,” he said. After a year, in September 2014, when the family was granted asylum, Gabriel was reading one Swedish book a day.

Immediately after the court’s decision, Gabriel ran to the center for adult education to have his high school diploma validated. He was determined to begin his studies and not lose yet another year.

Gabriel Shamoun waited for an appointment with an adviser for three months. The adviser was very helpful and assisted with the student’s application. The teachers also gave him a hand in preparing for the entrance exams, which he passed flawlessly.

When a letter from the school arrived, Gabriel was so nervous he could only ask his brother to read it aloud to him. He had no reasons to worry, as there were no problems for him to get into the Linkoping University. Today, Gabriel Shamoun, the exemplary immigrant, blames himself that if he had studied harder, he would have been able to study in Stockholm.

It has been less than two years since he came to Sweden, and he already speaks fluent Swedish, and he will study at one of the best universities in the country. In some years following his dream he will become an ophthalmologist treating Swedes.

This story of an exemplary immigrant has been covered by major Swedish newspapers and is known by the whole country.

Gabriel has only one flaw. He cannot be an example to follow by tens of thousands of Muslim Swedish immigrants.

He is not a Muslim.

The Swedish newspapers didn’t mention this fact in their coverage of sucesses of the exemplary immigrant.


Grzegorz Lindenberg

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