Discussions highlighting club racism and police brutality

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Yesterday evening discussions were held about a subject that too often is sneered at or neglected in the discussions about how we get a better society. It concerned the matter of club racism and police brutality. Since I want things to improve and also the quality in the police work and know that the police force are meant to be there to prevent crime then it’s deeply problematic when wider and deeper structures and situations like those mentioned yesterday appear. In this text I intend to highlight some serious attitude and behaviour problems within the police and the club, disco, restaurant business… as well as the society as a whole. Next week I will come with some suggestions that might help improving the situation for the police force, but also in making the trust better and society situation calmer. What I now write might be read by people in 80 countries all over the world…so far.. maybe more later.

When I came to Tryckeriet/The Print Station at Rolfsgatan 7b yesterday evening I was met by Jallow Momodou from Afrosvenskarnas Riksförbund/The Afro-Swede’s National Association, http://www.afrosvenskarnasriksforbund.se, Charlene Rosander from Café Pan Afrika and victimized Alpha Kanté from Senegal. He had his right arm in plaster as you can see above. More of his story below. In the picture above you see Karin Henrikz from Malmö mot Diskriminering/Malmoe against Discrimination discussing with Alpha Kanté and Jallow Momodou. They want an external association that scrutinizes cases of unnecessary police brutality. As it is now the police investigates the police and almost all cases are closed fairly quickly. A system like the one in Great Britain is wanted, but adapted after Swedish law system. A system where external lawyers, experts and laymen scrutinize these cases. Yesterday several stories came up that highlighted a very dark side of police behaviour which is utterly unacceptable, as well as within the club and entertainment business. The latest victim of this was Alpha Kanté above who was victimized and brutally treated unnecesseraly last weekend, just after the Eurovision Song Contest here in Malmoe.

Karin Henrikzen is a lawyer and she has been working for the association Malmö mot Diskriminering for a year and a half. They deal with all kinds of discrimination, on working places, within the education system and other situations. They can be found at http://www.malmomotdiskriminering.se Some cases might also be taken higher up to Diskrimineringsombudsmannen/the Discrimination Ombudsman (DO) at http://www.do.se on Government level. Karin Henrikz said that it’s extra problematic in cases like this since the law against discrimination doesn’t cover the police work. However Malmö mot Diskriminering has been involved in the case of Alpha, trying to help and support him. Karin told us that they help with legal guidance, writing complains, damages claims and reports. She said that the legal system is moving slowly, that it takes time to change laws. She mentioned the campaign Fight Racism Now and that in Malmoe 50% of the discrimination cases concern ethnic discrimination and sadly enough that many times the police here was the culprit. Malmö mot Diskriminering has existed only for a couple of years and they get loads of cases. 2011-2012 they had 66 cases and less than half way through 2013 already 70 new cases. They are only a few working there and now they have a temporary stop for recieving any more so that they might be able to handle the cases properly. Behrang Miri said that he thought that it was a pity that they had to stop recieving cases, even if only temporarily, but the pressure is too high at the moment, both here in Malmoe and other cities, Karin Henrikz explained. Professor Mattias Gardell talked about how we divide the financial resources.

So what happened last weekend? Alpha Kanté had been to an African party, was dressed in an African shirt and in a good mood. He’s a 34-year old Sengalese and was soon going to start a new job after having validated his competence. He had a contract with the firm and would start on June 10th. He was happy. Together with some friends he went to the club Harry’s. There the guards stopped him and said: “You can’t come in here in your African shirt”. Alpha asked why? Is there anything wrong with my clothes? He wasn’t violent, only emotionally hurt. The guards told him to leave. Then some police officers appeared. They didn’t ask what was happening or if they could help, but instead told him to leave. The policemen suddenly grabbed Alpha and forced him onto the ground, twisting his arms so much that Alpha felt something break inside his right arm. Then the police took him into the mini bus. There they grabbed him, stamped with their feet on his head and back. When he asked why they treated him like a slave they laughed and said: “Ha ha. So we’re in that age again.”  Alpha complained that he was injured and in serious pain and needed to see a doctor. The police officers neglected that and said he only was bleeding a little bit. They stamped on him again and the female police was the worst. At the station they stripped him of all his clothes, while he continued to complain about his hurt arm and hand. They put Alpha in a cell and let him there over the night. He shouted that he was in pain, but nobody listened. The next morning he was taken out, given his clothes and stuff, still maltreated and sent to hospital where the doctor discovered that Alpha’s arm was broken. It will take 8 – 12 months for it to heal completely and the job that Alpha would start in June he won’t be able to take.

When Jallow Momoduo tried to help Alpha and went with him to the police they didn’t want him to be there and support him as a victim. Jallow explained that Alpha didn’t know Swedish very well and needed an interpreter either in his own tongue or in French. However the police never called any interpreter, but instead some officer tried to use google translate. In the police report it said about the evening in question that Alpha had “been waving with his hand” and that he “hurt his hand of unknown reason”. About the later discussion together with Momodou it said that “the plaintiff had renounced his right to victim support”. That was also a lie Jallow Momodou explained since Alpha didn’t even know of that right. Today Friday at five there will be a demonstration at Davidshall about this case and this phenomenon.

Other stories were unfolded last night. Siavosh Darakhti who’s a youth leader of Persian background and positive and prized front figure for Young Muslims Against Antisemitism experienced something similar at New Year’s Eve. He too had gone to Harry’s but was stopped by the guards. Instead of calling him names with African connotation they called Siavosh “black head” and refused to let him in. He too asked why, but the guards refused to answer. He was dressed handsomely in suit and expensive shirt to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Then suddenly police officers appeared. Neither Siavosh was violent, but they forced him onto the ground, took him into the mini bus and started beating him. He asked why they treated him like this when he was someone who tried to build bridges, was a youth leader and had taken initiative to Young Muslims Against Antisemitism. They just laughed and continued to beat him. In Siavosh’s case one of his shoulders were broken. At the station they continued beating him, calling him names like “bloody immigrant” and giving him ear boxes, tore his nice shirt apart and destroyed his clothes. Siavosh Derakhti too was thrown into a cell. For what? For being an immigrant youth who wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Afterwards the police report said that Siavosh probably was a drug dealer.

Entertainer, debater and lecturer Behrang Miri, who’s originally from Iran, said that when he was younger and was stopped by the police his experience was that the female police officers were the worst. They were more aggressive, more hateful, more prejudiced. Jallow Momodou said that it’s important to highlight the problems in a peaceful way and not returning the bad treatment and giving the police reason to treat them badly. Charlene Rosander from Café Pan Afrika told her story. She’s now 28 years old and when she was seven her 14-year-old brother had been stopped by the police without having commited any crime, taken into their car and driven to the beech woods some miles east of Malmoe put there and told to walk home as best as he could. Charlene and her parents hadn’t believed him when he told them what had happened, but over the years she has heard similar stories and gradually realised that these things happen on a fairly regular basis. Actual racism does exist within the police and a couple of years ago a female police officer Jeanette Larsson reported her own working place Malmöpolisen for racism and told us that in internal education material nicknames like Nigger Niggerson had been used about fiction characters.

When it comes to the club environment Jimmy Touré who has been working in that business for many years was very upset. It’s him you see here below. In the late 1960’s he was working on clubs in Paris, France. He told us yesterday about an incident in Paris from 1968. The artists Sidney Poitier and Miriam Makeba were going to perform at the King Club, but were stopped by the guards who didn’t know them and refused to let them in because they were black. The audience were waiting for Poitier and Makeba, but they had to go back to their hotel rooms. In 1970 Jimmy Touré came to Sweden. He has been working as a DJ and a club owner. He says that he has seen the blatant racism among club owners and guards. How often guards actually abuse and seriously beat guests. Often the guards are told to reject different kinds of groups based on actual looks and racism. Jimmy stopped working in this business because of that. The worst places in Malmoe when it comes to this are said to be Privé, Étage and Club F, but here now also Harry’s.

There has to be changes in attitudes and laws. When people are badly treated they sooner or later rebel. To avoid social turmoil and society problems these things have to improve. These are not the only factors involved or the only reasons for the problems we see in society, but they are most definitally contributing. Things have to improve and change now.

Anders Moberg, May 31st 2013

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A Scanian Swedization process in the 17th century

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In the middle of Scania you find places like Höör and Hörby, and a few kilometres south of Hörby the small village of Östra Sallerup/Eastern Sallerup. The landscape is beautiful. There are green pastures, fields of yellow rape, trees, groves, ponds, a park, houses here and there and the local church from the 12th century. When I came there yesterday The Association Jöns Henriksson’s Memory had just put up a sign on the church wall. This is what it says: “Jöns Henriksson 1622 – 1689. Vicar in Eastern Sallerup 1648 – 1689 in a troubled time when Scania became Swedish. Here he was buried, here stood his sarcophagus, remnants of that are now placed at the northern wall of the church. Jöns Henriksson founded the Vicarage Park with Charles XI’s stones… The Association Jöns Henriksson’s Memory 2013”. Yesterday that association had arranged a 17th century day in reminescence of that vicar. They did it in co-operation with Frosta Härads Hembygdsförening/The Local Association for Frosta Jurisdictional District, Hotspot Kölleröd, Skånes Caroliner/The Scanian Caroline Soldiers and from Denmark Christian 5s’ Drabant Garde/Christian V’s Henchman Guards. You find information about them here: www.karlxistenar.se,http://www.hotspotkollerod.se, skanescaroliner@bredband.net and http://www.facebook.com/Skanes Caroliner. For the Danish contribution it’s http://www.chr5drabantgarde.dk.

I had trouble getting to the place in time and missed the first part: the 17th century sermon led by vicar Jan-Olof Jansson, the performance of the Danish guard and the introduction of the sign. When I came to Eastern Sallerup I talked to the different people involved though. One important person who had taken the initiative for this day was Harriet Olsson-Strange who participates in this project and who moved to Östra Sallerup in 1988 from Eskilstuna in central Sweden. Another dedicated person was the project leader Eva Grip who was our guide later in the Vicarage Park. I will describe the park below. Skånes Caroliner led by Captain Alf Prytz showed us some marching outside the church and in the park later. Inside the Culture House there were objects presented with local importance from various epoques.

So what is the background story? What did we commemorate yesterday? The church was founded in the 1180’s by the Danish Arch Bishop Absalon in Lund in South-Western Scania. Absalon had lands here at Saxulftorp in Ruma as it was called back then. Over the years the church has been added to and rebuilt to harbour the growing parsonage. During the first half of the 17th century Skåne/Scania was still East Denmark and the priest prior to Jöns Henriksson was called Baltsar Hansen, vicar here 1620 – 1648. One of his sons remained on the spot as church bell-ringer.

These were the days of the 30-year-war in Europe. Denmark was involved and had armies in Germany fighting. Sweden also got involved a few years after Denmark and Sweden was growing into a regional super-power during this era. King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden was called the Lion from Scandinavia, but he was killed at the battle of Lützen in 1632. The Danish king Christian IV was just as active and there was a strong rivalry and enmity between Denmark and Sweden in those days. The power-struggle was immense while the local people everywhere had to suffer the consequences of that fight.

In a cottage near Frederiksberg Castle on Zeeland, Denmark the boy Jens Henriksen was born in 1622. He grew up probably as son of the royal gardener and these skills would later become useful. At the age of twenty Jens Henriksen began his priest studies in Copenhagen under his Latinized priest name Janus Enrici. Six years later on May 14th 1648 he had travelled over the water Öresund to East Denmark, Skåne and become the new vicar at Östra Sallerup and Långaröd. The war in Europe and famine made the local life as priest tough. But Jens Henriksen was resourceful. In 1651 he and some other priests wrote to the Bishop and asked for respite for payment with the taxes. In a few years the national history would make the life even more tricky for Jens Henriksen and his vicarage.

In 1654 Carl X Gustav became Sweden’s new king after the abdicated Queen Kristina who had turned Catholic and moved down to Rome. The Swedish king had his eyes on East Denmark and wished to invade. The winter 1657-1658 was harsh and very cold and the king marched over the ices with parts of the Swedish army and put a siege on Copenhagen. The war between the two neighbouring countries raged on. At the peace treaty in Roskilde Cathedral on February 26th 1658 Denmark had to leave Skåne, Halland and Blekinge to Sweden. The war broke out again in the summer and a new treaty was signed in Copenhagen in 1660.  That same year Carl X Gustav died and was replaced with his five year old son Carl XI who because of his tender age was led by a regency until he came of age.

The new national belonging was not taken lightly and the farmers, the bourgois merchants and many other locals were used to the Danish rule. Now they suddenly were expected to become South Swedes instead of East Danes. Both the Danish and Swedish armies burned, violated, threatened the Scanian population and sacked the region. Partisan forces grew up, so called Snapphanar. These partisan bands were often a mix of local patriots, rebellious farmers, unfortunate people who had come in-between, wild teen-age kids and thieves. The Swedish army retaliated fiercely and I have in January written a little about The Göinge Chieftain Svend Poulsen in my text “A balanced national pride”. He was one of the more famous Snapphane leaders in that era. Everyone who was suspected to support these bands or the Danish crown was punished harshly, often with both torture and death. A Swedish university was founded in the archbishopric of Lund in 1668. The foundation of Lund University was one way of securing the Swedization process of the province. Swedish school books, Swedish church, priests, teachers, corriculum and language. Everything had to be in Swedish.

Being a vicar in a province like this can’t have been easy, but Jens Henriksen was diplomatic and used various ways to save Östra Sallerup and his congregation. He changed his name from its Danish form into the Scanian-Swedish Jöns Henriksson and he managed over the years to keep a diplomatic attitude with both sides in the power-struggle. In 1675 the so called Scanian War broke out which lasted until 1679. The most fierce battle was the one north of Lund on December 4th 1676 led by the now adult Carl/Charles XI. The Danish king Christian V tried to take Scania back, but didn’t succeed. A new peace treaty was signed at Lund in 1679. The year after Carl XI of Sweden married Ulrika Eleonora of Denmark. In 1681 the bishopric of Lund began replacing the old Danish Bibles and psalm books with Swedish ones. That was completed in 1686.

Vicar Jöns Henriksson was outspoken, but being too critical of the new rule could be dangerous. In 1684 his congregation got new inhabitants. Charles XI didn’t trust the Scanians and sent troups to Skåne to safe-guard the Swedization process. The newcomers were cavalry captain Johan Orrfeldt from Åbo, Finland (then part of Sweden) and his men from the county of Småland and other parts of the Swedish realm. They all were part of Southern Scania’s Cavalry Regiment. Orrfeldt moved into a house north of the church. During the 1680’s Jöns Henriksson also founded the Vicarage Park in its vicinity. The park contained ponds, groves, plantations, a Swedish and a Danish side, an observatory where he might watch the stars, a perspective path through the park towards the church. In the south-west corner of the park Jöns Henriksson had a big sign made in capital letters. The letters were made of stones in two lines and eight to nine metres each. The text said: “CAROLUS XI MONARCHA SVECIAE” = “CHARLES XI MONARCH OF SWEDEN”. We can’t be sure, but it’s not unlikely that Johan Orrfeldt and his cavalry men had an influence on that decision. When I visited the park yesterday one could still see small pieces of remnants in the ground from those letters. Eva Grip who guided us showed us where to look. Before his death Jöns Henriksson had a sarcophagus made in his own honour and in which he was placed after his passing away in 1689. Soon after his death the park was abandoned and has been neglected through the centuries. Jöns Henriksson’s sarcophagus was destroyed in the 1800’s, but during the 20th century he was notified again and in the 1990’s they began restoring the Vicarage Park. We don’t know what this vicar looked like, but probably he had a beard. A few of his letters remain, pieces of his sarcophagus and a few comments about him from later local priests.

The Scanian population began realising that they now were Swedish, but the local patriotism has never died. Here in Malmoe we have a statue of Carl X Gustav on his horse in the middle of the Major Square and in the late 1990’s the debate was fierce in the local papers and other media if he should remain there since he also was an invader and killer of Scanians. His son Carl XI died at Stockholm Castle in 1699 and was replaced by his son in turn Carl XII.

In 1701 the Sallerup Cavalry was called out in the new war abroad to defend the borders of the Swedish super-power. Johan Orrfeldt fell at the battle of Kissow in 1702 and at Poltava in Ukraine in 1709 Zar Peter the Great of Russia defeated the Swedish army. The Swedish king Carl XII and some of his troups fled to the Turkish Sultan. The soldiers from Sallerup however were either killed or taken captive at Poltava. A small group of the Sallerup Cavalry under their new captain Olof Rudbeck returned to Eastern Sallerup in 1722 after 13 years of captivity in Siberia.

When the Swedish army was defeated at Poltava in 1709 the Danish king saw his chance. He had recently renewed his pact with Poland and Russia. In November 1709 the Danish troups marched into Western Skåne/Scania at Råå and put a siege at Helsingborg. General Magnus Stenbock, governor of Scania retaliated. A battle was fought on February 28th 1710 which the Danes lost. About 5000 Danish soldiers fell and 2000 were taken captive. This was the last Danish attempt to take Skåne back. Now it was part of Southern Sweden for sure. Since then many things have happened and the region flourished in many ways. Jöns Henriksson can’t have had an easy task in such a problematic era of violence, wars, civil wars, famine and new rules. I can understand why the sign has been put up on the church wall in his memory.

Anders Moberg, May 27th 2013

 

A struggle for Romany recognition

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On May 19th I had been invited to the Victoria Theatre/Victoriateatern in central Malmoe to experience En Resandes Paus/A Vagrant’s Pause. It was arranged by Christian Glasnovic and RGRA, i.e. The Movement The Street’s Voice and Face. It was hosted by Christian Glasnovic, music producer at RGRA, Rasmus Snögren, who’s a RGRA-youth leader and Dusan Marinkovic, a Romany youngster and hip-hop artist in Malmoe. You find more information about them on http://www.rgra.se. The evening was beautiful and when I arrived some Romany teenage-boys in handsome suits were standing outside the theatre together with Rasmus Snögren. It was dress-code, suits for the men and dresses for the ladies. This was an evening to commemorate the Romany struggle for recognition, but also to party. Inside I saw some families who had placed themselves by tables at the back of the salon and I discussed the Romany situation with a couple of middle-aged men. One of them explained that he had an illness, but that he was neglected in the health-care system and he was convinced that his Romany identity was a contributing factor. That saddened me a lot. More and more people arrived, people in all ages, families, handsome men and beautiful women. Felicia Fredriksson who’s organisation leader at Victoriateatern was preparing things as usual.

The Victoria Theatre opened up its doors originally on September 9th 1912. It was built by the architect Axel Stenberg and until the beginning of the 1920’s it was a salon for silent movies. When the silent movies disappeared and the sound-movies came instead more movie theatres opened up, and Victoriateatern had a tough time surviving. Around 1945 they changed the direction and the theatre became an arena for comedies and revues. So it was for about ten years. In the mid-1950’s Victoriateatern once more became a movie-theatre, but the competition was tough and they had to shut down in 1974. The year after the building was threatened by plans of tearing it down. However in 1976 the theatre building was occupied by some left-wing artists, among them the singer Mikael Wiehe. In 1981 Victoriateatern opened up once more with its present agenda and has so far survived the last 32 years. Now Victoriateatern is a place for music shows, films, theatre plays and stand-up comedians. You find their programme on http://www.victoria.se and you may also reach Felicia Fredriksson at felicia@victoria.se.

En Resandes Paus was a nice show and I enjoyed it. I took a seat by a table and discussed with some women and men nearby. It was interesting and also another Swedish guy who was involved in these issues sat opposite me. Dusan Marinkovic presented the evening well. He’s only 15 years old, but already a famous person in town. You see him in one of the photos below to the left together with a couple of friends. You also see the salon where we were.

On October 18th 1997 14-year old Dusan Marinkovic was murdered by Serb Neo Nazis in Beograd. The skinheads had seen him when he was going out on his street to buy some soda. They didn’t know the boy, but they killed him. Dusan’s death became a symbol for the Romany struggle against the discrimination. 18 days later the killed Dusan’s sister gave birth to an infant boy whom she Christened Dusan. Now he’s 15 years old and lives here in Sweden. At the age of 12 Dusan started rapping and bit by bit he has become a household-name. It was also when the new series of killings of immigrants here in Malmoe had started in 2010. Dusan began reading what he could of the other serial-shooter called the Laser Man, John Ausonius, in the early 1990’s who had shot immigrants in the Stockholm region. In the evening of November 6th 2010 the Malmoe Police arrested Peter Mangs, the Malmoe equivalent of John Ausonius. Dusan was frightened as was his parents. Dusan said: “I thought that the police didn’t do enough. Even today I believe that they would have looked more for the killer if Swedes had been threatened”. Dusan lives in the southern suburb Lindängen and he also participated in an exhibition at Malmoe Museum. In co-operation with RGRA Malmoe Museum last autumn wanted to highlight the fact that it was 500 years since Romanies first came to Sweden in 1512. According to the sentence “Nothing about us without us” there was the exhibition called Muri Romani Familja, which lasted October 12th 2012 to January 27th 2013. There was material from activists, musicians, painters, photographers who depicted Romany life. Dusan was one of them. The others were Alisa Didkovsky, painter from the USA, Elena Nazare, photographer from Romania, Laura Halilovic, filmer from Italy…and the Malmoe Youth Central.

As the Sunday evening progressed music was played on stage, saxophone, accordeon, drums, horns, clarinette. Many people were dancing, and so was I a bit. The food was good, lots of food and the atmosphere was positive, warm and welcoming. Everyone enjoyed. I liked it a lot, but had for various reasons to leave a little early. As I left Behrang Miri came running after me and said: “Anders. You should know that Dusan venerates you a lot. Take care of his love for you, Anders.” I told Behrang Miri that I will, and I also said that I know what Dusan is doing and that this boy’s voice must be heard. I also renewed my suggestion to Behrang Miri that he and I ought to have lecture together sometime. Behrang and I are different from each other, have different perspectives and skills, different political ideologies and religions, but the fire inside of us is very similar. As I left I heard Behrang Miri say: “Never loose your fire, Anders”. Don’t worry. I won’t.

Anders Moberg, May 22d 2013

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Six days of existential issues

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Last week, Monday to Saturday, there was a big party-tent on the Major Square/Stortorget in central Malmoe. It belonged to the co-operation association Coexist Malmoe. Inside that tent there were panel debates, music, lectures and interreligious meetings all that time. On October 24th 2012 Malmoe Municipality  initiated the interreligious project Coexist together with representatives from the various congregations in town, but also with the Authority for Society Protection and Preperation, (MSB) and the Board for State Support of Religious Congregations, (SST). The intention was to easen the possibility for interreligious dialogue. Within Coexist Malmoe members of the different creeds get the chance to meet each other, discuss potential co-operations over the religious borders, similarities and differences in a peaceful and structured way. The tent on Major Square/Stortorget was one way of presenting themselves while many people were in Malmoe for the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. These six days were one way, but the work continues of course. The congregations which are involved in Coexist are The Swedish Church, the Jewish/Mosaic Congregation, the Muslim Congregation, the Bosniak Islamic Association, Shi’a Islam, the Salvation Army, the Pentecost Church, the Missionary Church, the Evangelic Free Church, the Slavic Macedonian Congregation and Karma Yönten Ling Buddhists. The association Coexist Malmoe will be a neutral arena for these talks and co-operations.

Andreas Wessman, reverent in the Pentecost Congregation says: “In Malmoe there are many tensions between religious groups and that’s why it’s important that we stand up together, Jews, Muslims and Christians”. Ibrahim Gicvan at the Muslim Congregation adds: “It’s just that we have better understanding for each other, hence the name too: Coexist. We are here, it’s as simple as that”. “For me Coexist Malmoe means meetings and talks. I hope they will spread all over Malmoe”, Cecilia Larsson at the Jewish Congregation states.

One important person for Coexist Malmoe is also the journalist Lena Friblick who also is the leader of the company Xenofilia, which means “Love of/Acceptance of Strangers” in Latin. The opposite is xenofobia.

Last Monday, May 13th they discussed topics like: The good Malmoe – The picture of Malmoe is sometimes dark, but there are many good forces. Another discussion was about the power of religion – How can religion contribute to a better society? The main theme the following day was Religion, Culture and Stereotypes. They started with discussions about if it’s okay to be religious in school or not. Several teen-agers appeared belonging to the different creeds and the discussions were intense. Tarraband then played some music, a mix of jazz, Latin and Arab folk music. At six o’ clock the topic was “Antiislam, Antisemitism – Why are we so anti? And what are we pro? I listened to that discussion and it was quite interesting really. The picture below this text was taken during that debate, the one above is from the Saturday talk “We are all Swedes”. The Tuesday panel consisted of Professor Mattias Gardell, Kristian Steiner from Malmoe University, the Turkish young woman Aslihan Ekinci Kaba from Alhambra, Jehoshua Kaufman from the Jewish Congregation, Kjell Persson from Karma Yönten Ling Buddhist Association and reverent Ferro Mehmedovic from Hyllie Park Church. Gardell stated that we have a tendency to divide ourselves in groups and dualistic pictures, good-bad, black-white etc and that we always think in that way. Kjell Persson who is a buddhist protested and said that he didn’t recognize that view, while Kaufman and Ekinci Kaba described their views. Kaufman said that he didn’t have to be anti- anything to be pro- something else. The discussions were interesting and Lena Friblick did as usual an excellent job as moderator in a relaxed and respectful way.

Sex was on the agenda during the Wednesday: Religion, Gender Equality and Sexuality. Youngsters were invited and they discussed sex with religious representatives and Ligga med P3/Lay with P3, a radio show for youngsters about sex. This topic was also a hot one and important to ventilate trying to understand different points of views and interests. At four o’ clock a Andreas Jonsson told the audience how it was to come out as bisexual in a religious environment and his struggle for being who he was. In the evening the discussions concerned gender equality.

The discussions continued during Thursday and Friday: Who is throwing the first stone? Is religion a blockation for making a career? Religion in crisis and ask the religion. Kids from upper-secondary schools in town had written down questions that Lena drew from a small box which she read to the panel last Friday. After that Patrik Olterman from the Salvation Army told his life story of how he as a young teen-age boy in upper-secondary school and then as a young adult had been drawn into a fundmentalist religious free church and become an extremist, but how he with time easened up and became more tolerant. It was interesting to hear it, and at six the talks concerned Heaven and Hell, Life after Death. Here there were some similarities, but the Buddhists had a different angle on their belief with Nirvana.

Three days ago there was the final discussion this time: We are all Swedes. Who is a Swede and when are we counted as Swedes? There are many born here who don’t feel Swedish because they are always denied that identity and feeling by people who refuse to see them as such. The panel that day held after the kippa-walk consisted as you can see above of Peter Weiderud from the Social Democrats for belief and solidarity, the writer Qaisar Mahmood, Swedish-Pakistani, Aslihan Eknci Kaba from Alhambra and Turk-Swedish, Ferro Mehmedovic from Hyllie Park Church and as usual Lena Friblick to the right. Being denied the right to be called Swedish if you are born here creates a stigmatizing trauma. Ferro said that he had spent his last 20 years here in Sweden and was just as much Swedish in his soul as many other Swedes. Aslihan explained that as a young Muslim woman she had experienced many things and that she saw herself as Turk-Swedish when it came to nationality. After the talks the Marimba Group played music from Zimbabwe. A joy for the ear. The existential issues are important to create bridges between people and for the personal development for us as humans. We have so much to learn and be.

Anders Moberg, May 21st 2013

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A walk for acceptance

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A walk for acceptance and diversity you might call “the kippa-walk”. During the 1970’s Malmoe had ca 2000 Jewish inhabitants, but now the number has decreased to about 500. One very destinct reason is the sometimes equally distinct anti-Semitism. Here in Malmoe the most evident anti-Semitic expressions come from people on the political left-wing and from some Muslims. Sometimes also from others. Does this mean that everything is bad? Jews in Malmoe are being harrassed and threatened. They are insulted, receive intimidating comments and death threats. Rabbi Shneuer Kesselman is one who often is victimized in this way, but also members of the Mosaic congregation and others who show their Jewish identity.

Also during this week leading up to the big finale yesterday evening of the Eurovision Song Contest Jews have been intimidated. Israeli journalists and delegates have been insulted and threatened on more than one occassion. Some have said that they wanted to know where they were living so that they might bomb the place. This last Wednesday 300 Palestinians demonstrated against the Israeli participation in the ESC, and also Daniel Sestrajcic from the Left Party, and head of the Section for Culture participated in the protest against Israel and the Israeli participation in the ESC. Now it’s also 65 years since Israel in the modern form was founded on May 15th 1948, which the Palestinians refer to as An-Nakba/The Disaster, since 700 000 Palestinians were driven from their homes. The killings continue on both sides. Sestrajcic said: “A cultural boycot is just as important as an economic one”. Two days ago the Conservative Party attacked Sestrajcic for his anti-Semitism, and he then reported them to the Police.

Yesterday there was a new kippa-walk in protest against these hate-crimes. What is a kippa? The kippa is the small Jewish cap which you see on male Jews sometimes, especially when they celebrate Jewish holidays, visit synagogues or Kotel ha-Ma’aravi/The Western Wall in Jerusalem. The first kippa-walk here in Malmoe was held in December 2011 when 10-15 Jews took a walk through town with kippas on their heads after Shabbat service to show their identity in protest of all the hatred they meet. That was the first time. All in all seven kippa-walks have been held, of which the last three have been quite big and grown into a movement for tolerance of minorities, for acceptance and against all hate-crimes. Now the kippa-walks gather Jews and non-Jews alike: atheists, agnostics, religious people from different religions, men and women. We also have to remember that we have had Jews in Sweden since the 1780’s and that the Jews are one of Sweden’s five official national minorities protected by Swedish law.

The kippa-walk yesterday had been threatened by Islamists and the first route had to be changed. The Malmoe Police had called in colleagues from other parts of the country because of the threats and the security yesterday was immense. I saw police officers and police cars everywhere. When I came to the synagogue at noon people had began to gather. The Shabbat service had just ended and Barbara Posner and Jehoshua Kauffman from the Mosaic Congregation, Willy Silberstein from the Swedish Comittee Against Anti-Semitism, (SKMA) in Stockholm talked to those who showed up. Also Sofia Nerbrand from Malmoe Municipality was one of those who had initiated last day’s walk. I took out my own kippa and put it on my head. A reporter from Finnish Radio came up to me and asked me about the importance of and meaning with this kippa-walk. I told him so and gave the interview.

When we started walking at 12.30 about 300 people had gathered and participated in the walk. The sun was shining brightly from a clear blue sky and summer Malmoe was showing itself from its best side. It was only when we reached the square Triangeln that I heard someone there shouting some angry insult, otherwise there were no incidents. We continued our march up to the central parts in the Old town and ended at the Major Square/Stortorget where speeches were held by Jehoshua Kauffman, head of the Malmoe Mosaic Congregation, Barbara Posner, a Jewess born and bred here in Malmoe, Olle Schmidt and Sofia Nerbrand. They were pleased to have gathered people from Malmoe, Landskrona, Lund, Helsingborg, Stockholm and Copenhagen, Denmark to show their sympathy for the fact that we must be able to be who we are without being harrassed. Even if the focus yesterday was on antisemitism and the treatement of the Jews here in Malmoe also other forms of fobia were mentioned; islamophobia, afrofobia, antiziganism and homofobia. Among the participants yesterday there were also Muslims and it warmed my heart to see Jews and Muslims, Christians and Atheists walking side by side – and to be one of them. Jehoshua Kaufmann said that he was pleased to see so many gathered. We were on the same spot as where a delegation carrying Israeli flags was attacked in 2009. He also said that even if the hate crimes do exist he also pinpointed the acceptance and the good efforts made that also is part of our wonderful city. Barbara Posner said that if she had been younger she probably too would have left Malmoe for all the attacks, but Olle Schmidt said she shouldn’t have to. “We want you here and we need you here” he said to her. Just one hour after the kippa-walk Adrian Kaba, Social Democrat had yet another anti-Semite manifestation. Always this hate. Tragic. The acceptance for our diversity is vital and that’s why I so often write about it. Tomorrow I will write about the different discussions between the religions Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism that have been an important part in the Coexist tent this week. Now the ESC is over, but the efforts in Coexist and Malmoe in general will continue. That is just so important.

Anders Moberg, May 19th 2013

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Meeting the Georgian ESC-artists

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Tonight is the night for the big finale of 2013 year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The contest will start at nine pm and Malmoe has had many different parties, events, minor performances, interviews and talk-shows during the last two weeks leading up to this year’s competition. A few of them remain.

After World War II the Europeans were so tired of war and fed up with its consequences. In the 1950’s a certain Marcel Bezencou came up with the idea with an international song contest in order to build peaceful bridges between the nations instead of military struggles. The European Broadcasting Union, the EBU arranged it and has done so ever since. The first Eurovision Song Contest or Concours Eurovision de la Chanson was held with seven participating countries in Lugano, Switzerland on May 24th 1956. Back then all participants came from Western Europe, but in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union the East European OIRT began a co-operation with the EBU and the competition grew with countries from the eastern part of our continent.

In this year’s competition Georgia competes with a ballad duet composed by Swedish Thomas G:son. He has competed with his songs eight times in the ESC, of which three times for Sweden. Last year he won with his song “Euphoria” performed by Loreen. The Georgian TV called him and asked Thomas to write a song for the Georgian team. He went listening to them and wrote their number “Waterfall”. Georgia will compete at the end as number 25. I saw them perform on TV two nights ago in the second semi-finale and they were good. Both artists Sophie Gelovani and Nodi Tatishvili have great voices and the song is a nice ballad performed with intensity and class. Definitally a worthy act to reach high in the competition or even win.

In Malmoe about 150 different languages are spoken and the EBU had difficulties finding someone that spoke Georgian, but one day Irma Jämhammar from Georgia who lives in Lund was contacted and asked to become leader of the Georgian team. When Irma was a teen-ager an older sister had fallen in love with a Swede and moved here. When Irma visited she too fell in love with a Swede and moved here in her early 20’s. Now twenty years later it’s the first time that she finds her skills in Georgian useful. It’s Irma Jämhammar you see here above. I came in contact with her a few days ago and I also got a short meeting with the Georgian artists. Irma also taught me some Georgian phrases: “Hello. How are you?” “Gamardzjoba. Rogorhart?” The entire group consists of 17 people, artists, chief of delegation, chief of press, stylists and a Georgian TV-team. I met them all at their hotel yesterday. The two artists Sophie Gelovani and Nodi Tatishvili both come from the capital Tbilisi and began singing at the age of six. Sophie told me via her interpreter that music is her life and her inspiration. She lived in S:t Petersburg, Russia, for four years and she has participated in many international concerts, festivals and also has had solo concerts. Her co-artist Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie are good friends. They have known each other for some years and have performed together on several occassions. Tonight they will compete as number 25.

Georgia/Sakartvelo is 69, 878 square kilometres big and situated in the Caucasus area. The neigbouring-countries are Russia, Azerbadzjan, Armenia and Turkey. The Georgian capital is Tbilisi. Ethnic Georgians call themselves Kartvelbi, the name of the country Sakartvelo means “A place for Kartveli” and the language is called Kartuli. According to the old chronicles and local legends their ancestor Kartlos was great grandson of the Biblical Japhet. In Antiquity the region was called Iberia by Greeks and Romans. Eastern Georgians were Iberoi and the western Georgians were Kolchi. The ancient Greek hero Jason and his Argonauts who went looking for a golden fleece (oqros satsmisi) sometime 3300 years ago came to Kolchis east of the Black Sea, today’s western Georgia. The language Kartuli/Georgian does not belong to any of the larger language families Indo-European, Turkish or Semitic, and the Georgian ancestors are believed to have been a mix of original Autoktont inhabitants and immigrants from Anatolia. The Georgians were Christened during the 4th century A.D. and have been Christians ever since.

During the Middle Ages European scribes began naming the Iberians and Kolchis “Georgians” and the region “Georgia” because the people there venerated Saint George very much. In 2004 Georgia started re-using the old Five-Cross Flag containing also the S:t George Cross. That symbol was also used during the Middle Ages. In the 700’s they had a period of local superiority, but in the 1300’s the Asian war-lord Timur Lenk ravished their country. During the 1800’s and 1900’s they were under Russian rule, first under the Zars and then as a Soviet Republic. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 Georgia became independent in 1991. The regions Abchasia and South Ossetia try to break loose from Georgia though and sometimes it’s quite tense. During the Rose revolution in 2003 the former president Edvard Shevardnaze was forced to abdicate, and since the election in 2004 the republic is led by President Michel Saakashvili. He was re-elected in 2008. A short war between August 8th and 16th 2008 was fought against Russia. Since it’s better to create peaceful ways of building bridges between people, various forms of co-operation, listening in people’s needs, building of health care and infrastructure the ESC could be one way of showing the positive aspects of a country. We just mustn’t forget to continue building co-operations and platforms for companies, individuals, creating jobs, taking care of our world, ourselves and each other when the party and competition is over. We all ought to remember this when the ESC is over for this year tonight. The Georgian act is good. They sing well, it’s good music, have a nice appearance and I will enjoy. Then we should continue creating and building… For the sake of our world.

Anders Moberg, May 18th 2013

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Film Centre South visited by Margreth Olin Myklöen

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At Monbijougatan/Monbijou Street 17e in a building of red bricks in the vicinity of Möllevångstorget/The Mill-Field Square and Folkets Park/The People’s Park an interesting national association has its premises. They are Filmcentrum Syd/The Film Centre South. Filmcentrum is a national association started in 1968 working with distribution of short-movies and documentaries, technique props and guiding. The southern division of this association have their activities here. See http://www.filmcentrum.se or google Filmcentrum Syd. They have courses and education of new film-makers, lectures and other activities such as Filmbar together with Film i Skåne, a window for Scanian short-films four times a year. Part of Filmcentrum Syd is also ARF The Anti-Racist Film Days. Filmcentrum Syd also supports and co-operates with Folkets Bio, Auto Images, Film i Skåne and Boost Hbg.

When I came to their premises yesterday evening they were visited by the Norwegian film director Margreth Olin Myklöen.  She was born on April 16th 1970 in Stranda, Western Norway and after studies at the University of Bergen and Högskulen i Volda she became a professional film-maker. Margreth Olin began with telling us that there are always key events in a person’s life that will be extra important for us and make us become who we are and trigger our personal development. When she was a young student she had had a Swedish teacher that she looked up to and really liked, a kind of father figure. She also told us about her film about her uncle Reine whom had Down’s Syndrome. He had a warm and loving relationship to Margareth and he always saw her, the entire her in a good way, despite his handicap. The prejudiced ideas of people around them however was the big problem and how he was treated by the Norwegian society. When Margreth had made this film about her uncle and her family she was afraid that they would protest and during the première rise from their seats and leave. During a key scene with Margreth’s mother her mother was sitting in the cinema with her head down. Beside her sat Reine who put his arm around her and simply said: “Relax. It’s only a film”. This film from 1997 was seen by thousands even though some critics didn’t think it suitable to make a film about a man with Down’s Syndrome.

In 1998 Margreth Olin made a documentary called Dei mjuke hendene/The soft hands. It was a film about a group of elderly men and women at a home for senile people. When Margreth showed us some clips from her films I was struck by how beautiful they were. She said that it was important for her to have respect for the people she was depicting, and I believe her. Margreth Olin Myklöen has an approach that make people feel comfortable with her and open up. The movies were made with such dignity for the people shown in them that it was just amazing. Margreth also works with a small crew and excellent photgraphers who really know their profession. In 2002 she made the film Kroppen Min/My Body which became something of a break-through. She has also recieved several awards and prizes both in Norway and internationally. She recieved for instance the Golden Chair at the Short-Film Festival in Grimstad. She also was awarded Best Foreign Language Film at the 83d Academy Awards and in 2010 the Amnesty International Norway Award.

In 2004 Olin Myklöen made Ungdommens Råskap/Raw Youth which was seen by 60 000 people in Norway. Two years later she released an action movie called Nestekjärlighet.no/Love of Neighbour.no, and then in 2009 she relased her fiction story called Engelen/Angel, in which she describes the destiny of a young woman, from her infancy to her days as a young adult. She showed us some clips and told us about the amount of viewers.

Margreth Olin Myklöen is very much concerned about human dignity and human rights. She has in her documentaries shown us not only her uncle with Down’s Syndrome, elderly senile people with dignity, but also a young woman who was a drug-addict and sold her body, as well as refugees without papers. She has been abroad and met law-officers and smugglers of humans, she has met and interviewed a young man who later from frustration took his own life by hanging himself from the ceiling. Her dedication for telling us stories that are important for our human value has made her an important voice in Norway whom also the Norwegian Parliament listens to. Now she’s making a new documentary about refugees without papers. 

It was interesting listening to her and hear her telling us of the importance of having respect for people we meet and for our human kind. We who sat there yesterday were moved by what we saw and heard, even if we only saw short sections of her films. All in all an important lesson to consider for our present and future lives. We learn and develop as long as we live.

Anders Moberg, May 16th 2013