Recently I wrote about violent clashes in the Swedish and the American societies, as well as elsewhere. Malmoe municipality in the south of Sweden, northern Europe, is sometimes a violent city with killings, rapes, bombs, hate crimes, violent combats and acts of revenge among gangsters, drug deals, burglaries, deception, wife battering and honour killings etc. We have it all. Sadly enough my city has become infamous in the national media during recent years for the many bad things that do happen here so frequently.
However, good things are made in various ways to oppose the negative trend of clashes, intolerance, and racist attacks in different directions. Organizations, authorities, companies, the police force, commoners etc. are doing some serious efforts to twist the negative trend into a positive one… at least as much as possible. We have e.g. an intercultural-interreligious council called the Dialogue forum where representatives from various ethnic and religious groups, members from different departments within the municipality, the police, schools, interested and dedicated citizens meet approximately once a month at the City Council to try and solve the conflicts in a positive way through dialogue, co-operation, education and enlightenment. I sometimes join the discussions as well. In many parts of the society, in different parts of the world attempts like these might be helpful to try and solve an even more destructive development and maybe even turn it into a situation of reconciliation and understanding instead.
During late August we have the annual Malmoe festival in town with artists, food streets, music for every taste, and lectures. The company where I now work, People’s Entertainment, a multicultural media and culture bureau, have had representatives on stage. Some young hip hop artists and dancers have performed in the name of tolerance and love.
On Saturday August 18th there was this “kippa” walk, a walk from the Jewish synagogue to the Mollevang square where members of the Jewish congregation, a Member of the Swedish Government, Ulrika Olsson, Liberal, Luciano Astudillo, Social Democrat, Willy Silberstein from the The Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism, and the Head of the Jewish Congregation held speeches against the existing hate crimes aimed at all Jews in Malmoe. Jews are frequently mocked, attacked and threatened, among them the nice Rabbi Kesselman. The speeches included not only the Jews, but also Islamophobic and Anti-Gypsy hate crimes. To demonstrate the resistance the many gathered citizens could put on a Jewish kippa. I was very moved by the situation, because I feel a new positive spirit when I walk the streets, a kind of opposition against all hatred and corruption.
During the Malmoe festival which ended on August 24th showed another wonderful attempt to oppose the hatred – an association started by the journalist Lena Friblick. It’s called Xenofilia, which means Loving Acceptance of Strangers. Xenofilia is an organization for co-operation between the Swedish Church, Islamic Centre and the Jewish Community in Malmoe. They now also have started a new TV Channel called Agora Malmoe. Xenofilia had a tent in the Great Square downtown during the festival with cooking, Spices from Rosengard, music, panel debates and lectures. On August 22d e.g. Lena interviewed the Iranian women’s and human rights activist and journalist Parvin Ardalan, a very intelligent and nice woman, and on Friday the 17th there was this panel debate with the following members: Susanne Gosenius, process leader for hate crimes, Malmo police force, Willy Silberstein, Chairman of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, Fredrik Sieradzky, the Jewish Community and Siavosh Derakhti, Young Muslims against Anti-Semitism. It was an interesting debate, and I hope that the efforts now made will flourish in the struggle against the destructive forces. It won’t be easy, I know, and because of the financial crisis in many parts of the world clashes tend to increase. That’s why efforts like these are so important. We all have an obligation to do our best.
Anders Moberg,November 9th 2012