I Still Believe in You Sweden, My Country

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The beach in Åhus, southern Sweden, in October

I have fond memories of my native country, a country that I believe is one of the best countries in the world. Here’s a sample of my memories:

I the summers I participated in summer camps hosted by the local municipality, offered to all teenagers in the municipality and the fee based on a sliding scale according to the parents income, where families on welfare paid nothing. In the camps we got to practice creative writing and drama during a few weeks. The youth leaders were young and enthusiastic, we often went swimming, created new bonds of friendship. The summer camps made is feel important, that we deserved these amazing weeks in the countryside together.

In middle school during election time our teacher encouraged us to form our own political parties, with different agendas, creating posters where we formed slogans and after presenting them all we got to vote on the ones we thought were the best. The posters then decorated the classroom for the rest of the school semester, reminding us about the power being in our hands.

My parents often spoke to us children on justice and how it was important to support each other. One Saturday morning when going down to the garage in our building, we saw a young but weathered man sleeping on the ground floor, outside the lift that we stepped out of. Me and my sisters got agitated and said that he shouldn’t sleep there – we had never seen such a sight before – because it wasn’t his home and it was disgusting. Our mom then explained that we shouldn’t say that because the man probably had nowhere else to sleep, and we shouldn’t speak so loud, so that we wouldn’t wake him up. A small thing but it made a strong impression on me, the constant reinforcement of empathy for others.

This country taught me amazing things and made me who I am today. I still believe in you, my country, Sweden. We are still a country that cares about others, where it’s possible to coexist. Let it remain like this, Sweden. Please don’t let me down.

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“When Politicians Failed to Agree on Conducting the Country’s Affairs, the Quartet Helped Them.”

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The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet

Congratulations Tunisia! We were many who were overwhelmed by joy when the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet scored the – Swedish! – Nobel Peace Prize of 2015 a few days ago. Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel!

Now, what does a Tunisian person think of this? My friend Firas, who usually is happy to share his ideas about politics, especially the Tunisian ones, gave me his ideas, in a typical Tunisian style of mixing English with French vocabulary. He was, for once, very optimistic. A trait that is not very common among Middle Eastern and North African people nowadays.

He is happy to say that the quartet deserves it:

“They negotiated for a year in order to take country to the end of the tunnel. 2012 and 2013 were tough years. Radicals were in the government, economy was down and terrorism and unemployment up. The Nobel Peace lauréates managed to make a deal, through dialogue that allowed peaceful power shift.

They lobbied and conducted a dialogue that almowed power shift from mainly islamist government to a next one made of technocrats. This lowered social tensions… Each part of this quartet represented a part of the society. When politicians failed to agree on conducting country’s affairs, the quartet helped them.”

Firas says that the quartet helped in avoiding dictatorship and power vacuum, and points out that they negotiated around nine months to facilitate the power shift to a technocrat government and to prepare for the first democratic election:

“They negotiated around nine months the power shift to technocrat government, a non-politicised one whose mission is to keep the government afloat, and prepare for the first democratic election that will bring first democratically elected government.”

I share Firas’ hopefulness too. This quartet helped Tunisia in avoiding the fate of Egypt and Libya: where sectarian tensions has taken over and terrorism replaces politics. These days I think we should celebrate the victory over terrorism, or as the player would put it: Dialogue vs Conflict: 1-0.

Photo credit: cnn.com