Today I’m in Stockholm, Sweden, and participated in the memorial service for the victims of the Holocaust. It was cold, wet and dark and I listened to the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfvén, who spoke some quite wise words.
“I refuse to listen to the sound of boots marching”, he said, and the audience cheered.
He spoke of how important it is to stand up to oppression of certain groups everywhere and reminded us of some current examples:
“Jews in Europe, Roma in Hungary and Romania, homosexuals in Russia.”
He spoke of tolerance and the importance of the international community showing support for marginalized groups and efusing to let hatred seep in and become normal. He spoke of the importance of such an extinction not to happen again. I appreciated his speach as I believe the current Swedish government – established after a lot of drama – won’t cooperate with the extreme right, and the Prime Minister’s words on a day like this are important.
A few attendants cried and afterwards there was going to be an official service with invited authorities, where among those the admirable organization Young Muslims Against Antisemitism were to participate. When the service wrapped up and we were to bring candles to the memorial statue of the victims of the Holocaust, it struck me that I recently did particpate in another memorial service. I took part of a memorial service for the 145 victims of the school massacre in Peshawar, Pakistan, a few days after it happened. It was an emotional service where we also lit candles and where most attendants cried floods for the young children who has been slaughtered in their own school.
That massacre no one mentioned today. And maybe it’s not surprising. The Peshawar massacre was an extinction that was mostly forgotten by the international media two days after it had happened. We talk about how it can’t happen again, but it’s going on right now in the time of the information age where we can’t say we don’t know. But when it’s not close to home it seems we can’t relate to it.
When leaving the ceremony today I thought of the quote of Friedrich Hegel that the interviewee Louis Yako once told me:
“‘The only thing we learn from history, is that we learn nothing from history.“
Dark times have been prevailing lately. I have commented on it in previous posts and decided it was time for another type of comment. Let me remind us all of the beauty that exists in the world, that the world is not only darkness but also light. Here are photos of some beautiful places in the region that I like the most, the Middle East.
Iraqi Kurdistan in spring
Iraqi Kurdistan in winter
Jordan valley in spring, Jordan
Kuwait city at night time
Photo credit and photo copy rights: Abdulrahman Ali and Sweden and the Middle East Views
Charlie Hebdo cartoon portraying Nigerian girls taken by sex slaves by Boko Haram to be claiming their welfare benefits
My last blog post received comments wondering if I excused the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Of course I don’t, I’m just very worried with an increasing polarization worldwide.
I think the massacre was horrifying. I have been deeply saddened and upset by the video of Ahmed Marabet raising his hands to the killers to show he’s giving up and them answering with shooting him in the head. I could hardly believe the details from the first massacre and it took time before I could read all the details from it. My stomach turned when I knew about the four innocent people killed in the kosher shop.
I don’t justify any killings of anyone, I believe you can be a dictator, mass murderer or cartoonist drawing stereotypical images of minorities, and still no one has the right to kill you. I also think that the police should have made more efforts to arrest the Kouachi brothers alive together with Coulibaly, so that they would have been held accountable for their disgusting crimes and spend the rest of their lives in prison. Getting away with death was too easy on them. But that doesn’t mean I will agree on the cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published. And republishing them in masses of newspapers in response to the massacres, or using the hashtag #killallmuslims, will probably push more young, angry and confused people into the welcoming arms of extremists.
I asked in the last blog post, written just right after the killings, if the murderers were confused young Muslim immigrant men, and they turned out to be – with the interesting addition that they were orphans. It doesn’t surprise me the slightest. I’ve known plenty of young angry men, and they are never from happy circumstances. If they were, they wouldn’t be so angry. What else is, there’s many of them and they will easily be affected by the increased polarization.
Also me I condemn the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but I won’t glorify the cartoons. They were striking towards already exposed minorities. That wasn’t the sole reason for the massacre, but nothing good comes out of it.
I don’t agree with the caricaturs Charlie Hebdo published and I don’t see the reason for publishing them in the first place. I wouldn’t sign up for the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag because I don’t support this kind of journalism, a journalism that’s provocative only for the sake of being provocative. But I am as shocked with the killings as everyone else.
I don’t know where the attack comes from and I don’t know if we ever will find out. And who was it? Confused young Muslim immigrant men, treated as second class citizens by the Front National influenced France of today, or angry young converts who recently came back from Syria? Did Saudi Arabia fund the terror attack just like we accuse them of funding everything else? Was it ISIS? Or was it loners scraping together for ages to be able and carry out their own little sick plan?
I’m not sure it really matters who was behind this brutal killing. The attack in itself is a sign that we’re on a very bad track internationally, all of us, and that we’re going downhill. KIlling of civilians is becoming so normal our children might think it’s a rational thing to do when you have convinced yourself that you hate someone.
I wish I wouldn’t have to say this, I’m myself irritated at times with all the doomsayers online who critizice politics and the society without wanting to see the good things in it. But 2014 ended with the Peshawar massacre and 2015 starts with 12 journalists killed because of the newspaper they worked for. These attacks sends us back ages in to a dark place where I don’t want to be. Twitter fills up with racist statements and the rightwinged extremist parties are looking forward to an upswing in the next elections. Front National must be shitting their pants with excitement. Us ordinary civilians will lock ourselves in and starting to avoid our neighbours. This attack isn’t just on Charlie Hebdo, it’s an attack on all of us, all over the world.