Dealing with attitudes in society is no easy matter. They are often deeply rooted and making good efforts to improve the ways for people to meet, learn from each other, live side by side with respect for each other in dignity and create a society that is acceptable for many is difficult, but necessary. We live in a globalized world and need to find ways where we might live together and create foundations for a human future that is co-operative and wise instead of torturing, mocking and where we continue killing each other. Not long ago I visited Café Pan Africa who had invited the Malmoe Police to discuss attitudes towards Afro-Swedes since they feel badly treated and have done so for years. The Malmoe Police had at first accepted to come and also chose the date, but just three days before the seminar they sent an e-mail where they rejected to come. The photo above of Jallow Momodou from Café Pan Africa and the Afro-Swedes National Association/Afrosvenskarnas Riksförbund was taken during that seminar. That there does exist a racist, xenophobic, macho culture within the police force is a fact, even though there are variations, and some people within the police actually try to contribute to a positive change. I have met different police officers and percieved the variety among them. We must also keep in mind that police officers often meet and see people in trouble. They see the darker side of our society, be it wife-batterers, thieves, scheeming company-owners, gangsters, their “girl friends”, trixter aristocrats, alcoholics, drug-dealers and murderers. This most likely contributes to a cynicism among police men. But no doubt there are attitude problems both among police officers and several of those who for various reasons hate the police. As I see it there has to be improved attitudes on both sides to make our society better.
I have earlier on this blog written about the project REVA, where the border police together with the Swedish Migration Board and the Crime Correction Board since 2009 chase immigrants without papers by using racial profiling and harsh methods to expel mainly teenagers, children and certain adults. Yesterday Ilmar Reepalu, head of Malmoe Municipality and the top politician in town, Social Democrat, criticized the methods used by the police and sent a complaining letter to the Swedish government in Stockholm. He and the Municipality Board dislike that the project REVA chose Malmoe as first pilot city to chase immigrants without papers without telling the local officials. The government have ordered the police to intensify the chase and they are payed 4500 kronor for each person without papers that are sent out of the country. The Municipality Board criticizes the government for going behind their back and fear that this project and the police methods collide with Malmoe’s efforts to include the new immigrants, and their human right to education and health care. Also women who have experienced violence, wife-battering, rapes, forced marriages etc are given protection in Malmoe. The Municipality Board is afraid that they too will hide from the police and see them as an enemy, instead of a help and a role-model to look up to in the new country. Reepalu says: “We are critical to that the state didn’t bother to inform us that Malmoe has been a pilot municipality for REVA. We are role-models when it comes to the possibilities for immigrants without papers to get schooling and health care. In this case the government and the police ought to have discussed with us to find ways not to harm these kids”. The representative for the Conservative party in Malmoe, Stefan Lindhe does not like this letter to the government and he see it as part of a political game. “The police is supposed to follow laws and regulations. When they talk about Malmoe’s work against racism in the letter they insinuate that the police should be racist.”… “If the Municipality Board wants more information about the police work couldn’t they make a phone call?” Does this mean that the Social Democrats are less racist than Conservatives and want all immigrants here? If we look on their politics the answer is no. Most politicians in the largest Swedish party, ca 35 %, are mainly “white” and far from all Social Democrat voters and members like immigrants. Sometimes it’s the contrary. However, Malmoe is from my perspective a role-model in the work for creating a better society for a great variety of people. Mainly thanks to the Social Democrats, the Environment Party, and the People’s Party when it comes to politics, but also thanks to various organizations and good people of various background. The segregation though is a major problem as well as the dichotomized attitudes, the gaps between people, the gangster romanticism and different groups idea that they have the right to hate and pursue their opponents.
Not long ago the SDL, the Swedish Defence League, a tiny group of racist so called “nationalists” had a demonstration here in Malmoe. They want an Arian-Swedish, white-right, anti-muslim, anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-Jewish, ethnic “pure” Sweden. It was a tiny group of SDL-sympathicizers who were met by a large crowd of so called “contra-demonstrators”. I had just been to a multi-cultural conference, but rejected the demonstration. Even if I intensely disliked the SDL message I also oppose the way some of the contra-demonstrators often behave on occassions like these. This was no exception I learned afterwards. Projectiles were thrown, small gas tubes, hateful comments and insults, turning certain of the contra-demonstrators into a counter-productive machine. From my life experience so far some of them like trouble, violence and “the action” and don’t really bother about any high ideals. Others again are nice people who simply don’t like racism and who want to show where they stand ideologically.
Yesterday Annika Henning wrote an article in the free gazette City Malmoe-Lund about how often politicians who are active for the Swedish Democrats are threatened, beaten and harrassed in different ways, like getting crank and unpleasant phone calls etc. Personally I dislike the SD politics and their racist background, and even if the party leader recently rejected some of the most openly and hardened racists from among their midst, their policy and attitude is rather extreme and no better than for instance fascists or islamists. Take away the party emblems from e.g. SD and e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood and you’ll notice that the basic values are very similar, even if they hate each other. They are both misogyn, racist, homophobic, extreme-“nationalistic” and anti-democratic and work for some kind of dictatorship, secular or religious. The article yesterday told about a phone call that the SD-politician Hans-Olof Andersson in Lund got and taped three weeks ago. A young man called Ahmed said on the phone: “Hey, listen, I will kill you. I will kill every… everyone….We’re going to find you, we’re going to fuck you, we’re going to penetrate you. Listen, listen, I will come here, I’m going to take your Swede money, I will take your Swedish daughters. They’re gonna die”. As you can see it’s a very racist (anti-Swedish) rhetoric used that is utterly unacceptable, just as the opposite would be in the other direction. According to the Swedish Democrats they often get harrassed and beaten, while the main society just looks on and accept it. The problem is that their own agenda, behaviour and rhetoric is anything but innocent and democratic. Far from it. Personally I reject all such attitudes irrespective of where it comes from or where it’s headed, since I believe in a democratic society with equal rights and obligations for all women and men independent of background. Does this make all conservatives or Swedish people into racists? Of course not. Does it make all muslims into terrorists, misogyns or oppressors? Of course not. Just a couple of hours ago I recieved an invitation to a peace conference arranged by one of the city’s muslim congregations. Are all Jews dangerous? Are the Hindus or Sikhs? Certainly not. I will continue to write some more articles where I describe the positive efforts that actually are made to create bridges and a better society for more people on this sensitive but so important globe which we all inhabit.
Anders Moberg, April 3d 2013
Hm… Interesting to see the dynamics played out in another country. We certainly have some of the same problems with our own police forces.
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