After graduating with a master’s degree from the Free University of Amsterdam, Sheher Khan started applying for entry level jobs in the Netherlands. One and a half years later he was still coming up short and decided to do an experiment. Khan would apply for the same job openings under two different names: his own as well as a white Dutch sounding one. Unfortunately, only his alter ego got invited.
Khan, however, was never discouraged. He proceeded to join Young West United, a youth organization representing his neighbourhood, and eventually landed a job through his volunteer work. He now advises refugees, who have had their asylum approved, in their life choices for the Dutch municipality. At the same time, he still volunteers for Young West United, which has flourished over the years. They just opened their own office space and now work with over twenty people.
Khan is also an educated man. He studied economics and political science at the University of Amsterdam, the Free University as well as the Sabanci University in Turkey. ‘’Learning academic skills was useful,’’ Khan says, ‘’but in terms of content you have to do it all yourself.’’ Khan reads extensively on a wide range issues, from climate change to racism and geopolitics. ‘’It started with animal rights,’’ he recalls. ‘’After that everything just started snowballing. So many things are connected.’’
The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a key turning point for Khan. ‘’I actually believed it,’’ he recalls. ‘’Hussein probably has weapons of Mass Destruction.’’ Nearly one and half decades later, Khan maintains his own blog on international politics with a particular focus on the Middle-East. He also writes for media such as Wij Blijven Hier and has spoken at packed events, most recently in Amsterdam for a discussion on Islamophobia and the roots of terrorist networks. ‘’Islamist terrorism is a Frankenstein monster created largely by Western foreign policy during the Soviet-Afghan invasion,’’ according to Khan.
Asked whether Khan has made sacrifices for his sense of justice, he simply shrugs. ‘’Less chilling, that is all. I’m happy with that. I’ve chilled enough man.’’
‘’It’s time to work for the unfortunate,’’ Khan says. ‘’That sums up my attitude.’’