Sweden and the Middle East Views Receives Blog of the Year Award!

Blog of the Year Award 6 star jpeg

Thank you fellow blogger Idealistic Rebel for this award! On her blog she explains her nominations like this:

My nominees all are bloggers who work hard at their craft, and try to make a difference in people’s lives.  They are kind enough to give me good feedback on my blogs and opinions — by which I do not mean only positive feedback which agrees with me, but feedback that is honest, true and thought-provoking even if we disagree.  I love to read all their blogs, and I hope you will to.

I’m happy someone likes my mission for a change!

“You Need a White Cock in that Mouth” – Emails from My Haters

Do you like my blog and my ideas? Not everybody does.

The experience is new to me since I haven’t been attacked like this before and it’s a different thing knowing about people’s prejudices and to experience them first hand.

A response on Facebook to my blog post “Can I like this page if I date Arab men?” told me I should keep in mind that whites are probably the least racist in the world. I asked the person – no first or last name and the profile picture was the Swedish flag – to back up the statement with some verified research, and received the following answer:

That’s not needed. We let all nonwhites into our country. And now the original population in all the immigrated countries starts to grow tired of the ungratefulness we are given in return. We have the right to become angry and complain. Same thing as if you would receive a guest who didn’t liked the food you cooked and he/she should just demand a lot from you.” (The original population in Sweden is not whites but Sami, but Mr No name might not have been very attentative during his school years.)

Another commenter, self-proclaimed American, found our Arabic-Swedish network’s Facebook group and only the idea of our network seemed to drive him nuts (he’s not the first one). He posted a hateful message on the wall on how Sweden could let in Arabs, which I as a moderator removed. Immediately the reactions came in private emails:

So much for free speech (sic). Fuck you too! 89% of the rapist in Sweden are Arab. Shame on you and all ARab women. No self respect!

Answering and explaining why I had removed his wall post only exaggerated his anger, part of it steemed from the belief that I too am an Arab (one part is translated from Arabic written with Latin letters):

All people living in America Turkish Malay Indian Pakistani Persian… only Arab bastards cause trouble. Also why do you people FORCE your daughter to wear hijab? You can’t teach them modesty first? No wonder they go out and keep boyfriends on the sly. Arab bitch… Are you Lebanese? All Lebanese are bitches Your mother too is an Arab animal. You need a white cock in that mouth. You wish you were white and worship us whites.” (Who was it that was supposedly a rapist by the way?)

So this is obviously the kind of comment you can receive if you belong to an ethnic group not everyone seems fond of. What else could you face as a minority if this is the response I get on my according to me quite harmless commitment?

My reply to the man before I blocked him:

Hello Mukhter! I am 100% white and I suggest you find other people to share your ideas with as I don’t find hate very appealing:)

More comments like these are surely to come, but I won’t let hate set the agenda.

Our Absolutely Amazing Arabic-Swedish Network

I’ve been volunteering for NGOs since my university years but I never thought I would start one myself one day; starting NGOs are for career driven young people, not the former high school dropout whose best day is spent tanning at the beach. But sometimes life takes you crazy places.

Back in 2010 I wanted people to practice my Arabic skills with and I found myself with no close Arab friends in my city of Malmö. Around the world language exchange meetings is a big thing and in Malmö you can for example practice French every other week, but Arabic seemed not to be on the agenda – despite the many Arab inhabitants of Malmö and the huge possibility of exchange. Complaining to a friend, she told me about an Arabic speaking girl she had met.

“I think she would be up for it,” my friend said. “Why don’t you send a message?”

This other girl was up for the idea and slowly me and her started to scrape together people to our language exchange meetings, held in Sunday afternoons in different coffee shops. Sometimes it was just her and I, waiting for people who didn’t show up.  But we stayed put, spread the word among our friends, posted online, and by time more people dropped in. When all the emails and text messages got too much we finally decided to start a Facebook page to coordinate the activities. The Arabic-Swedish Network was born.

We are now more than 240 members in the Facebook group and new people join every week. We have no rules for membership other than that you have to be nice to each other; you don’t need to have speak certain level of Arabic or Swedish to join, if you speak none of the languages you can just join in and start from scratch (hey,  there’s too many rules in the Swedish society anyways). New people who has arrived in Sweden and found the group online, takes the opportunity to introduce themselves on the wall and then shows up on the next meeting. As we are so many members nowadays people set up their own events: poetry and sheesha nights, dinner parties, breakfast meetings. I know of many who think Sweden is a difficult place to make new friends and getting in touch with Swedish people – our network is an exception.

Since November this year the Arabic-Swedish network is a registered NGO, we figured it was a good idea since we spend most of our free time on the network anyways; our homepage you’ll find here. Now where will this unplanned NGO go next? I don’t know, but if you’re around, drop in on any of our events – I guarantee you’ll have a good time.

Photo: Copyright Sweden and the Middle East Views Blog

What Mandela Meant to My 5 year old Me

Can I tell you what Nelson Mandela meant to my 5 year old me back in the early 80s?

Once with our dad in the grocery store he didn’t want to buy the apples from South Africa and we demanded to know why. He told about how there was a country far away where people were treated differently, and how us in other countries shouldn’t buy their things, so that they would understand what they did was wrong. This was a tricky thing to explain for three small girls with one million questions.

“It would be like… if Maria (their friend’s daughter) wouldn’t be allowed to sit on the same bus as you”, he explained, as he trailed us through the store with a shopping cart filled with the boring groceries that characterized Sweden in the 1980s.

The story haunted me and then a few years later the front pages were filled with the news on how Mandela was released. One of my friends’ father explained what the headlines were about as we were going home from an outing, passing by the placards.

These and other stories about Mandela and South Africa must have affected my in a way I didn’t realize. But I’m glad I asked so many questions and grown ups were willing to take time explaining things to me instead of sugarcoating it, even if the burden of knowledge can be difficult for a child. It helped me in becoming who I am today.

What did Mandela mean to you?