How Racism is Becoming Normalized in Sweden


Racism is becoming more normalized in Sweden – in all of Europe, I dare say, and people with xenophobic views who previously kept quiet about their views now feel more free to express them openly. Still, most of them reject the label of being racist.

A young Syrian man in Sweden recorded this woman on a tram in Gothenburg, Sweden, when she verbally abused him and his friends. Check the video out on his Facebookpage.

Don’t speak Swedish? This is the bottomline of what the woman yells about:

She gets 3.800 SEK a month, while “they” (presumably the young man and his friends) are receiving 8.000 SEK a month, to study Swedish for immigrants.

And at the end of her speech, she states that she obviously has the wrong skin colour, white, in Sweden, but even if she does, she still has the right to have opinions in her own country, and she’s not a racist.

Now with this kind of narrow definition, who is really left to be a racist?

Unlearning Hate

If you hate an entire sect, group, community, region, religion, nation etc., then you have surely fallen prey to indoctrination. 

You have been taught to hate, either by your own negative experiences, or by negative experiences/perceptions of others, or by agenda-driven propaganda. 

Yes, true. You can also indoctrinate yourself (self-indoctrination) by leaving your critical faculties unused.

But, don’t worry!

A learned behavior can be changed. Just remain humble; tell yourself repeatedly that you are teachable. 

There’s no shame in unlearning falsehood and embracing universal truths.

Quote from my Pakistani friend, journalist and activist

How to Fuck up Your Kids Using Religion as a Tool

Do you have a hatred inside you that you wish to transfer to your children? Do you channel the hatred by religion? Is hate more important to you than children feeling safe and loved? This piece is for You.

Dear Hater,

This is how You should roll it.

Speak directly the kids that You want to transfer the hate to – Your kids, Your grandkids, other kids that You are taking care of or have an influence over, kids that are dependant on You and Your care in order to feel safe and secure, and therefore have no other or little other reference they can relate to, no other safety net, no other strong role models that they can rely on instead, when You start your hateful indoctrination.

Tell the kids that there is A Certain Religion that is bad, simply bad with no specific reason. Tell the kids that whoever belongs to That Religion is dirty, unclean, unfaithful, greedy, cheap. Any negative adjective You can use – use it for That Certain Religion.

Use a stereotype for anyone coming from That Certain Religion. Tell the children about the certain features of that religion. These people have certain hair colours, noses, facial features. That’s how you can tell they belong to That Religion.

The people from That Religion is all bad. Everything they do, they’re bad. You can never be friends with them. You can never go to school with them. You can never be neighbours with them. You can never work with them. This, the children needs to know. Before they start school, they need to know. They can never accept other people as individuals. Everything should be filtered in the dirty filter that You use for life.

Does anyone in the children’s extended family belong  to That Religion? Did they, God forbid, marry an outcast who belongs to That Religion? Did someone make the unforgivable crime of converting? Tell the children that all these people that have committed that unforgivable sin will be punished for what they did. Family or not, religion cuts through everything. They don’t celebrate the same religious occasions as You and the children do, and therefore, they are bad. They will never be able to enter certain religious places because of their religion. Even when life is over, when they’re dead, they won’t find peace. They will burn in hell. Hell, to children, is scary. Use that fear as an incitement. Fear filters everything. Fear is a useful filter against love. Fear is a useful filter against happiness.

You hope that You succeed. Succeeding in passing on the hate is,  first and foremost, the ultimate goal for the children that You care for.

But wait! Somehow, with one child or more, You were not successful. The children grow up, slowly but steadily along a rocky path, and where fear had it’s way, hate somehow didn’t make it. They could not buy the concept of hate, but they could not resist the concept of fear. Confusion and anxiety took the place where You hoped hatred would be.

You did not succeed. The children are not haters the way You hoped. But they are not secure, happy, grown up persons. Any hateful comments, they flinch and dodge. Any hateful comment, they might attack. Any hateful comment, it hurts them as if a bullet went straight to their heart.

You have made everything poisoned. Any religious holiday, any family gathering, it’s all attached to the fear and confusion, to the hatred You hoped would be planted in their heart.

You have succeeded, but You have not succeeded. You have created a damaged, fearful person where You hoped hatred would have been a part of the child, now the grown up person’s, spine. The hate have stopped, but the pain hasn’t. The pain probably never will. You have succeeded, but You have not succeeded. Where You wanted a strong hate to take place, something else took it’s place.

In the worst case for You, the grown up child recent everything that You were standing for. The grown up child might recent You and Your ways, even long after You have left this life. But the grown up child is still not happy. Still not secure. They are just fucked up. But they won’t carry on Your hate. This means, You have really not succeeded at all.

Regards,

Someone who’s not carrying on with Your hate

“The Existing ‘Us vs. Them’ Dichotomy Has Recently Gotten Extremely Ugly and Inhumane”

Another, as expected, terrorist attack, another round of tensions getting high in all directions.

One of my friends wrote that he won’t add the Belgian flag because of the previous oppression of Congo, and that Belgium had brought this on to themselves.

Some friends were upset that the bombings in Belgium received more attention than the ones in Istanbul.

Some blamed the uncontrolled influx of refugees with terrorist sympathies; the failure of the European intelligence services; the failure of the social policies for integration in Europe.

A Kurdish friend of mine nailed it down like this:

The existing ‘us vs. them’ dichotomy has recently gotten extremely ugly and inhumane.”

Heartbroken, as always, I scrolled though all these comments on social media. Then suddenly, this popped up. My Muslim Syrian friend who I gotten to know in Syria in 2013, a colleague whom I worked with, who has since gone to Belgium as a refugee, still struggling to rebuild his life, posted a public post on Facebook:

For those who stuck in ‪#‎Brussels‬ ‪#‎Bruxelles‬ ‪#‎Belgium‬ after cancelling all the flights, I can offer a place to stay overnight in.

That for me, at least, became my own light in this darkness.

One Down, Many Remains. We Still Need to Learn How to Coexist

Salah Abdeslam is arrested, according to the Belgian authorities. One of the presumed terrorists behind the horrific Bartaclan-massacre is captured, he will be put to trial, will face justice for what he did. This is good. This is how justice should work. I hope that he speaks up in court, give people an explanation to why he did what he did, face the charges he will be on trial for, like a man.

Still – the underlying issue remain at large: there are many other young men like him in the grip of hateful terrorist groups. Marginalised young men, and sometimes women, of immigrant origin in the suburbs of European cities, feeling like they are, and being, looked down upon by many of the Europeans that they meet in their everyday life. Young men and women who will build up an alienation and hate towards the country they reside in, maybe even was born in. Young men and women who will cling to conspiracy theories, conservative/religious values (more conservative than in their countries of origin), alienation, and in worst case, terrorism – because they are not and don’t feel welcome in the country where they reside with a permanent residency or even citizenship.

Us Europeans still seem unable to welcome these people to a full extent in our countries. We still don’t let them have the same rights as us whites: we still don’t accept their qualifications; we still frown upon mixed couples; we still are not interested in making friends with them, citing “we’re different” if someone would ask us.

It’s our fault, the fault of all of us. One terrorist down doesn’t solve the underlying problem: that we still need to learn how to coexist. All of us.

American Jewish Women in Support of Middle Eastern Refugees

After Donald Trump’s horrifying statements regarding Muslim refugees, tensions have been high in social media, and therefore I was happily surprised to see a different kind of action.

A Jewish women’s group in US decided to start a movement under the hashtag #welcomethestranger, with this aim in mind:

“…to counter the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric and corresponding legislative action recently taken by Congress (HR 4038) that would keep refugees in limbo until they are “certified” as not being a security threat. People who are fleeing for their lives. We must not let this come to pass in the Senate. please join us in this action of writing your representatives, and share additional actions you are taking. Now is the time.” 

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It will be interesting to see how far this campaign can reach. In this polarised and intolerant times, I decided to share this small, but for humanity so necessary action, with you.

Photo copyrights: Leah Katz Ahmadi