Behrang Miri has a heart of gold. I have seen his commitment and how well he deals with the kids from the suburbs as well as with many others. He’s trying to build bridges, discuss important issues in his lectures, in his debates, via his music and by inspiring others to commit themselves as well. Behrang Miri’s message has reached far and wide both within Sweden and internationally. Behrang Miri is a lecturer, hip hop-artist, musician, social entrepreneur and artistic leader for kids at Kulturhuset, House of Culture in Stockholm. He’s a dedicated person who wishes to pinpoint the problems in society and who’s trying to do something constructive about it. Behrang is a hip hop-er, I’m not. I love some of his music and his commitment, even though we’re dealing with these issues from different perspectives. I have a more academic background, Behrang hasn’t. But that is of no real importance if you want to build bridges between groups and individuals, irrespective of social or ethnic background.
At the end of September 2012 Behrang Miri made the decision to move the Tintin albums from the children’s section 9/13 to the adult section at the library, in Kulturhuset. He did it as a statement to make people discuss how different groups are portrayed in the Tintin albums and elsewhere. Behrang made the decision without talking with his boss first, and moved the albums four meters.
In the following debate culture-Sweden and many others became so angry, and Behrang Miri’s decision had to be changed and the books moved back later the same afternoon. “Tintin is no racist and no racist litterature”, many protested in outrage. I am one of the many who grew up with Tintin and can go in polemic with Behrang and say as some other debaters that Tintin made me into an anti racist, but that’s beside the point in this article. Behrang Miri may have made a mistake and exceeded his rights in his role at Kulturhuset, but I have also listened to Behrang and heard the many nuances in his reasoning that many haven’t cared to pay attention to. First he intended to move the albums four meters from the children’s section to the adult one to start a discussion about influences on the young, and not some kind of book burning. He just wanted to make a statement pinpointing the existence of stereotypes and racism in litterature. Okay, those stereotypes exist, even though censorship isn’t the way forward, irrespective of what kind of book or art it is. Behrang also has explained that he realised that the action was wrong, even though the thought behind it was good. He regrets that. His intention was to focus on inclusion instead of exclusion.
As I said in the beginning, Behrang Miri has a heart of gold, is very competent and may have made a mistake, but who doesn’t sometimes. We are all imperfect. To qoute Jesus: “The one who is without sin can throw the first stone”. We have a tendency to jump on others for the slightest thing they do, attack them, hate them, abuse them, while we ourselves or our loved ones are just as imperfect and sometimes even more so.
What happened in the aftermath of this affair? Behrang Miri was slaughtered in newspapers, on blogs and on TV. Old friends attacked him and stabbed him in the back, people in authority position attacked him and claimed to know what he was up to, while they never really had bothered to sit down and discuss with him. There were articles that were neutral and simply stated the actual events as they had happened, a few were positive and understanding, while many were exaggerating, twisted his words and actions into some absurd unrecognizability.
I was reading what was said about Behrang Miri on the web sites Avpixlat and National.nu. I was disgusted by the comments. The content was: hate, hate, attack…spite, spite, blaha, exaggeration, mockery, racism, racism, ignorance, exaggeration, hate, hate, drop dead. I can fully understand that Behrang Miri was hurt and angry. Moreover he recieved death treats, some disgusting, anonymous smartalleck sent him poo, and he got even more threats. He was called Arab, despite the fact that he was born in Iran. Behrang was called mullah and Al Qaida supporter, despite the fact that he has a secular world view. Why? Simply for being who he is and for his committed work.
I’m no Muslim, I’m a Christian, I don’t work in exactly the same way as Behrang Miri does, but we both have a commitment for integration issues, the work against racism and for trying to seek different good ways to make our world a little better place to live in. Behrang Miri and I may not share exactly the same life style, background, views or interests, but I have no problems defending him. The sort of attacks he was the subject of simply proved that what he said to some extent was true. Let’s try to build bridges instead of tearing our hearts in two in hateful attacks.
//Anders Moberg, November 20th 2012