Wallenberg, King and Derakhti – Three important heroes

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“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character! I have a dream… I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers”. These are the most famous words taken from the middle of the speech called “I have a dream”. It was held by Martin Luther King Jr on August 28th 1963 at the Lincoln monument in Washington DC, USA. About 200 000 people had gathered there during the so called “March to Washington for work and freedom”. It was a march of mainly Afro-Americans who protested to get the same civil rights as the Caucasians. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr led it all. Who was he?  Martin Luther King Jr was born on January 15th 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His father was a Minister in a Baptist Church and also a fervent civil rights activist.  Martin Luther King Sr took his son to church and raised him in that sphere. His son grew up and began a similar career as his father, but he learned the hard way during his childhood and adoloscence the injustice of being Afro-American and the racist structures in society.  In 1948 Martin Luther King Jr took a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Morehouse College, Atlanta. Three years later he got a Bachelor of Divinity at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. Then finally the young man studied more theology at Boston University from where he graduated as Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology in 1955.  That same year he led the boycott against the busses in Montgomery, a boycott which lasted for 13 months when Afro-Americans refused to travel by bus. The reason was that the Afro-American seamstress Rosa Parker had refused to leave the seat on a bus for a white woman, and then been thrown out. This was a country segregated by law.  King’s boycott against the busses in Montgomery was successful. In 1957 Martin Luther King became the leader of Southern Christian Leadership Conference in which he continued struggling for the emancipation and civil rights of the Afro-Americans.  In the beginning of the 1960’s he was challenged by other Afro-Americans who thought that Dr King was too humble and weak, and instead wanted a harder fight. One such activist was Malcolm X from the Black Muslim Movement.  However Dr King struggled on and arranged a march to Washington which I’ve mentioned above was held on August 28th 1963. His speech had an enormous impact and did influence the creation of the Civil Right’s Act for example. But it was a harsh and violent struggle to get there. By 1963 he got married to Corretta Scott King and got four children with her. In 1964 Martin Luther King Jr recieved the Swedish Nobel Peace Prize, which is handed out in Oslo, Norway. (The other Prizes are handed out in Stockholm, Sweden). In 1964 Dr King also was given the title “Man of the Year” by the Time magazine.  On April 4th 1968 Dr King was preparing a demonstration in Memphis Tenessee. He was standing on his balcony to his hotel room at Lorraine Hotel talking to a couple of friends when a shot came from a house on the opposite side of the street. Dr King fell down dead. Later a man called James Earl Ray was arrested in London for the assassination of Martin Luther King. Ray was sentenced to 99 years in prison. It has been said though that Ray only was a patsy and that the CIA, FBI or the American Maffia was behind the murder. From 1988 there’s a day in memory of Martin Luther King Jr to commemorate his legacy and struggle in the American calendar. This last Wednesday on August 28th 2013 it was exactly 50 years since Dr King held his “I have a dream”-speech in Washington DC.  That fact has been commemorated in many parts of the world and it is today evident that some improvements have been made since his days, but not nearly enough.  The struggle for human dignity and fairness still has to be fought in many parts of the world and is a vivid part of human care and heroism.

King’s speech was held on August 28th and the day before we cemmomorated a Swedish hero, Raoul Wallenberg.  In my drawing above you see both Raoul Wallenberg and Martin Luther King Jr, a picture which I made  yesterday.  Wallenberg’s courage has been celebrated all over the world and many squares, streets, monuments, schools etc have been named after him in various parts of our globe.  Here in Malmoe for example we have Raoul Wallenbergs Plats, a small square between the southern canal and Gustav Adolf Square. Behind Raoul Wallenbergs Plats just by the canal there’s a small statue showing his brief-case with the letters R.W. on it. The statue was made in 2005 by Ulla Krantz and exist in two copies, one here in Malmoe and one in New York. The statue is placed on street-stones from Budapest, Hungary.  You see the Malmoe statue below.

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Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg was born on Lidingö, Stockholm on August 4th 1912. He was the son of Lieutenant Raoul Oscar Wallenberg and Maria Sophie (Maj) Wising. Three months before Raoul was born his father died from cancer, and his grandfather Gustaf Wallenberg took care of the boy’s upbringing.  Raoul was a mediocre student in school, but had linguistic skills. His closest kin wanted him to become a banker like them, but that was not really in Raoul’s character. He went to  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor between 1931 and 1935.  There Raoul studied to become an architect, even if he didn’t really work that much in that profession.  After a short stay in Sweden he was sent to new studies in South Africa where he worked as a salesman. Then he went to the British protectionate of Palestine and Haifa in the late 1930’s. There he met Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Raoul’s mother was half Jewish and maybe because of that he began to sympathize with them.  Raoul’s mother and grandfather wanted him to work for the SEB, their bank, but another relative Marcus didn’t think he was suitable.  Raoul got temporary jobs and in 1942 he was the middleman for their associates in Berlin, Germany.

In August 1942 Raoul got a job with a small firm, the Central European Merchant Company/Mellaneuropeiska Handelsbolaget which was dealing with export and import of food. Raoul was in charge of foreign affairs. The company was owned by the Hungarian businessman Koloma Laver. Wallenberg went to Hungary for three weeks in February 1942 and then again in the Autumn of 1943 for a little more than a month.  In March 1944 Operation Margarethe I was started by the Germans. The Hungarian Kállay government was taken from power and a new marionett pro-German government was formed under Döme Sztójay. They decided to implement the Nazi “final solution” of the Jewish population in Hungary. Between May 15th and July 8th 1944  The Hungarian fascist  Arrow-Crossers  and Adolf Eichmann deported 434 351 Jews to the death-camps.

The American Government decided to intervene and their War Refugee Board in Scandinavia decided to send a man to Hungary from the neutral Sweden.  The Americans persuaded the Swedish government, after suggestion from Wallenberg’s Hungarian boss to send Raoul to Budapest.  The Jewish Chief Rabbi in Stockholm, Marcus Ehrenpreis was reluctant, but decided to agree.  In Budapest Raoul Wallenberg became a key figure for the Swedish delegation, otherwise led by Ivan Danielsson and Per Anger.  In the summer of 1944 the Swedish delegation arranged protection passes for the Hungarian Jews who flocked to the Swedish delegation.  So called “Swedish houses” were arranged and Wallenberg talked to the Hungarian authorities and government that the Jews now were “working” for the Swedish delegation and therefore was under Sweden’s protection and also had diplomatic immunity.  During some months ca 50 000 – 100 000 Hungarian Jews were smuggled out and saved from the death camps.  The International and Swedish Red Cross also participated in the action.

On October 15th 1944 Ferenc Scálasi grabbed the power, but the Swedes under Wallenberg still succeeded to keep many refugees under their custody. In December that year Sweden expelled a Hungarian representative for the Arrow Cross-cabinet from Stockholm which enfuriated the Hungarians, and things got worse. The government was evacuated from Budapest and the Arrow-Crossers began harrassing Jews and Swedes. The Arrow-Crossers burst into Swedish houses and during a couple of weeks they executed hundreds of people. When the Soviet Red Army invaded Budapest there were ca 4000 Jews in the Swedish houses, 600 employees, while the Swedish Red Cross had 2 500 people more under their protection.  On January 11th 1945 Raoul Wallenberg visited the Red Cross office. He recieved 200 000 pengö and told the clerks that he was going to Debrecen. Two days later the Russians took command of the Red Cross office. They were civil to Wallenberg and he suspected no foul play. He gave them a telegram which he wanted them to send, (which they didn’t). He followed with them for a diplomatic meeting.  Then he “disappeared”. On January 17th the Soviet authorities arrested Wallenberg for espionage, sent him to Moscow and put him in the Ljubanka Prison. According to the so called Smoltsov report, written by the jail doctor Smoltsov Raoul Wallenberg was executed in jail probably on July 17th 1947.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry has kept a file about the Raoul Wallenberg case since 1944.  His family has over the years fought hard to get information about his destiny, which the authorities have been reluctant to participate in.  In 1981 the US  Congressman Tom Lantos who had been saved by Wallenberg presented a proposition which made Raoul Wallenberg citizen of honour in the United States of America. Wallenberg is also pronounced citizen of honour in Canada, Australia, Hungary and Israel. The Israelis also have given him the title of “One of the Righteous”.  Also in 1981 the USA founded the Raoul Wallenberg Committee to vitalize his legacy and work. They hand annually out rewards in his name to people who have lived up to Raoul Wallenberg’s values and efforts. In 1997 a post stamp with his name and picture was made in the USA and in 2012 he was given the Congress’ Gold Medal as a recognition of his feats during the Holocaust.  Here in Sweden a commission to find out what really had happened to him was founded in 2001. The Government under the Prime Minister then Göran Persson then published their report two years later. Four days ago on August 27th 2013 the first Swedish Raoul Wallenberg Prize was handed out in his legacy. The first one to recieve it was a young man from Malmoe, Siavosh Derakhti.

Siavosh Derakhti is a 22 year old man from Iran. He is a devout Muslim, belongs to a group in Iran which is persecuted there, but he has grown up here in Sweden. His family has taught him to look to the good things in humans, to be humble and just. That Siavosh has taken to heart. When he was 19 years old and student in upper-secondary school he noticed that the Jews, Romanies and Muslims in Malmoe were harrassed in different ways, but also that there were much hate and prejudiced notions against the Jews among his own friends. So Siavosh decided to learn more about the Holocaust and he managed to contact the Jewish congregation for his studies, and also to gather money for a journey to Auschwitz with his class-mates who were 90 % Muslims. They made the journey and learned a lot. Afterwards Siavosh, also called “Sia”, started the association “Young Muslims Against Antisemitism”. Since then they have had lectures, seminars, invited lecturers on the subject, have had workshops and met politicians and other officials. That is also what they still do, even though the name is changed to “Youngsters Against Antisemitism and Xenofobia”.

Siavosh Derakhti was nominated for the Raoul Wallenberg Prize along another good candidate from Malmoe, Gustavo Nazar. The Prize was given to Siavosh and the Prize money of 100 000 Kronor this Tuesday afternoon in Stockholm.  He said to the newspaper Aftonbladet/The Evening Gazette that : “It’s a big thing and honouring to be compared to such a great hero as Raoul Wallenberg. It is also a reciept for if you really work for something good then you get that back. To dare dreaming big – Together we get farthest.”  That Siavosh as a believing Muslim fight against Antisemitism and hatred against Jews is very unusual, and he has recieved hate mails, phone calls and evil comments, but mostly from white Swedes who refuse to see him as Swedish, and want him to go back to his home country. In my text “Discussions highlighting club racism and police brutality” from the beginning of June I mention one of Siavosh’s bad experiences. In the picture below you see Siavosh to the right during a seminar about police brutality. When it comes to Siavosh Derakhti’s association and struggle he says: “Some people deny the Holocaust and say that it never happened. That’s why it’s important to talk about it.”. Siavosh Derakhti also make comparisons to later pogroms and persecutions, like the ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia and what is happening now in the world. He concludes with saying: “I want to become an anti-racist Zlatan. A Zlatan/Wallenberg in the society”. No doubt this young man deserves his prize and all the encouragement he can get. That’s why he is one of the true heroes of our day.  Our world is troubled, there are wars, famine and conflicts in many parts of the world, also here in Sweden, even if on another level. We have an open society, a secular democracy, which also has to be preserved. So does humanity in its best sense and the world we live in. Let’s co-operate and do good if we can.

Anders Moberg, August 31st 2013

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The Malmoe Festival 2013 – Year 29

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Last Friday the Malmoe Festival ended for this year. It had then attracted 1,4 million visitors this time. The Festival lasted between August 16th and August 23d, and was held for the 29th year in a row.  If you’re Swedish speaking you might find more information at http://www.malmofestivalen.se. The Malmoe Festival started in August 1985 and has had many attractions, involved many famous performing artists, scientists, journalists, writers, dancers, restaurant-owners, bakers, athletes, organizations and merchants over the years. And naturally many others. One attraction which lasted for many years as part of the Malmoe Festival was the dragon-boat race where teams from different companies raced against each other on the canals to win that year’s dragon-boat competition. That tradition lasted 1985 to 2006. The festival which always is held about the same period in August each year, from Friday to Friday is always started with a large out-door cray-fish eating party in the Major Square for those who like that.  The top politician in town and “the festival general” introduces the event with a speech. Until 2009  the Festival was ended with a big fire-work display in the late Friday night sky. But Malmoe Municipality realised that it was too expensive and not good for the environment and stopped using that as a finale. If you visit Malmoe during the festival week you will notice that there are many merchants in the centre of the city, selling food from different parts of the world, candy, jewellery, art, but also information desks and kiosks from different authorities and non-profit organizations. There are street artists, lectures, seminars and concerts, all of that for free. The Malmoe Festival has something for every generation and every taste. It has also in recent years become the only Swedish festival which has been granted the prize “A Greene Festival” for its deliberate and well-aware ecologic and environment-responsible work. Lots of information about re-cycling of products, use of ecologic food and products on the festival area as far as possible is seen, The corner Eko Reko, i.e. roughly Ecologic Okay on Gustav Adolf Square was brilliant, and when I walked through there I noticed how well it was arranged. Of course the crowd made it all dirty and untidy, but there was a plan for how to deal with that in a good way. The festival committee encourages us to consider the following: Drink water from the water-taps, put your garbage in the right bins, turn the light off when you leave, avoid stand-by-function on technical equipment, choose vegetarian food, walk, ride a bike or go by bus or train, buy only what you need, take care of each other. VA Syd had put up water taps on the square for visitors to refill their water bottles. That was a good thought. See one of the pictures below. Also the Police and Customs officers were seen patrolling, talking to people, and information leaflets from both authorities could be read by passers-by.  Both the police and the customs want help from the citizens with tips about drug deals and the smuggling of drugs. Call 112 and or look for more information at http://www.polisen.se and http://www.tullvarket.se. They are there to help us and keep some kind of law and order, while we are meant to help them.Image

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I visited the festival twice last week, on Tuesday the 20th and Thursday the 22d. I picked a few things I wanted to see or hear, but also just strolled through the area taking in the atmosphere in general, stopping here and there. Here in Malmoe it’s very common nowadays with temporary artistic installations and sculptures, which liven up the city picture, and during the Malmoe Festival it’s no less so. Just take a look at the sign which starts this text, the photo above or some below.

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The idea behind the festival is good, even though it might get a bit boring sometime too, since we see the same concept year after year, and I know many who have grown tired of the festival and don’t go there, or just occassionally. Still it is a magnet for the city: A time for entertainment, meetings, awareness, fun and enlightenment. That we must keep in mind.  As I walked through the area I talked with some restaurant-owners and other merchants. There was a great variety. Some cooks who sold food from the Scanian area had started something called Smaka på Skåne/Taste Scania with the intention to develop Scania as a food region. Check it out on http://www.smakapaskane.se.  Also merchants from north-western Scania were here, introducing us to the beautiful sites in their part of the province. You find more info at http://www.haslov.com, http://www.angavallen.se, http://www.fridhemsgaard.com and http://www.almaregarden.se. Of course there are other talents as well. One good association is a corporative of women from the Middle East in Rosengård which have a company there called Yalla Trappan/ the Yalla Staircase. They sell handicraft material, have exhibitions, a restaurant and catering of food they make themselves. They are worth being mentioned and visited because of their high quality stuff too. You find them at http://www.yallatrappan.se and info@yallatrappan.se.  I saw how artists were performing in various ways on squares and in the streets, but also on stage. Last Thursday I went listening to a man called Mattias Boström who had written a book about Sherlock Holmes, how he was invented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, inspired by his old medical teacher Joseph Bell and also how the character have lived on after Doyle’s death.  The book was called “Från Holmes till Sherlock”. The seminar was held at Akademibokhandeln, and a few hours later on the same spot astronomer Peter Linde talked about whether there’s life in Universe or not. He was good listening to, has written a book on the subject and has the web site http://www.peterlinde.net.  At Hedmanska Gården/The Hedman House a young woman called Emma Knyckare led a discussion with some scientists both young and middle-aged from Malmo University.  Each scientist had ten minutes to talk about a subject connected to their research. It was interesting as well and the subjects varied: a dentist’s education, job and warning for not eating too much candy, how to use the language for didactic learning and rhetoric skills, the development of the IT during 50 years, as well as the creation of a text-message novel.  We in the audience sat there listening, and were also given the possibility to ask the scientists some related questions, which they readilly answered.

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On Gustav Adolf Square early that Thursday evening a choir of deaf and/or mute children from Östervång School here in Malmoe performed Loreen’s hit song “Euphoria” in sign language. In May 2012 the artist Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest internationally with Thomas G:son’s song “Euphoria”, bare-foot, simple, straight, with a marvellous tune and dito voice. In May 2013 she performed it again in a break during this year’s ESC…. This time aided by a choir from the Adolf Fredrik Music classes in Stockholm and deaf children signing the song.  Here at Malmöfestivalen it was done again. It was beautiful and moving to see.  On my walk through the central parts of Malmoe I watched how varied things really were. Not a new fact for me, but still interesting. I saw merry-go-rounds, dance places for different kinds of dance, playing grounds for small and big children, information kiosks, people resting, talking, buying things. I saw people who did athletics or just watching. We all participate in something.  I walked along the northern canal near the Central Station where also the busses go. North of the canals there’s dry land and buildings now, but the city has expanded. 200 years ago and before this was the coast line. The harbour didn’t exist, but Malmoe only had a pier by the beach to which the merchant ships had to take its merchandise, but from the end of the 1700’s things began to change and the city grew and developed. 1806-1812 the city walls were torn down and Malmoe expanded in all directions. It still does, since the city of Malmoe is constantly changing in various ways. Back on Gustav Adolf Square I saw a couple of young women performing on stage. They were called Say Lou Lou and were really, really goodSay Lou Lou consist of the Swedish-Australian twin sisters Miranda and Elektra Kilbey from Stockholm and Sidney.  They play a kind of retro disco mixed with futuristic pop. Their main songs so far have been “Maybe You”, “Fool of Me” and “Julian”. They performed other songs too, and they did it well. I’m quite convinced that these twins will have a great career ahead of them.  Over the years I have seen many great artists perform at the Malmoe Festival, both Swedish and from other countries. Lisa Nilsson, Helena Paparizou with and without Antique, Sanne Salomensen, The Real Group, Patrik Isaksson, Orup and Lena Ph, September and Craig David to name but a few. Every year there’s something new. What will happen during the 30 year anniversary for the Malmoe Festival in 2014?

Anders Moberg, August 26th 2013

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Helsingborg – The Pearl of the Strait

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This last Saturday I was with some friends of mine for a few hours in Helsingborg. Helsingborg is situated on the Scanian west-coast at the eastern side of the most narrow part of Öresund/The Strait between the Peninsulas. The city’s nickname is The Pearl of the Strait. Helsingborg is Swedens’ eighth largest city and has the second largest container port, after Göteborg/Gothenburg. I like Helsingborg and was working there in 1998-1999. The harbour is big and modern with sailing vessels, boats driven with heavy motors, but also ro-ro-ferries taking people to the other side of Öresund, Denmark. There you e.g. find Kronborg Castle, (called Elsinore Castle in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”). It’s only four kilometres between Helsingör in Denmark and Helsingborg in Scania, Sweden.  In the photo which I start this text with you see the Town Hall to the left, a statue of Magnus Stenbock, (1663-1717) who was governor of Scania between 1705 and 1713. In the background on a hill you see Kärnan/The Core which is the only remnant of Helsingborg Castle, a fortress which also has given part of the name to the city.  When you walk along the main streets close to the water the houses are fairly large, modern from ca 1850 until today. In 1999 a new area with high-tech houses along the harbour was built, called H99. Since I was working in Helsingborg then I remember when it was completed. A few years earlier, in 1991, a new port for the ro-ro-ferries was ready, and also a new central station for busses and trains, called Knutpunkten/The Hub.  In 2002  a culture house, Dunkers Kulturhus, was ready to take on visitors. You see it in one of the pictures below. You also see a couple of pictures from the harbour.

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Helsingborg is a beautiful site. Just a few meters from the shore the ground is going upwards in slopes and just a little bit in to the east you have a marvellous view of Öresund, Denmark and large parts of town. In the northwest there’s a long beach which is popular for swimming and sun-bathing in the summer-time. North of the city you find Pålsjö Forest, a wood mainly containing beeches, birch-tress, elms and other leaf-trees. In that part you also find Sofiero Castle which now is a museum and luxuary restaurant, and also famous for its rose-garden.  Parts of Helsingborg is built on and near some ravines which were shaped during the last Ice Age.  The city has many attractions, and I can’t count them all, but the city is well worth more than a visit.  Since the second half of the 19th century Helsingborg has grown enormously in number of citizens, companies etc. There some tiny companies have grown over the years, like IKEA which has its main office there. Ramlösa, named after a suburb south of town, make bottles with carbonated water since 1912, and in 1886 the Italian immigrant Carlos Zoéga founded the coffee-making company Zoégas which has become another famous institution in Helsingborg.

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The city of Helsingborg is from the Viking Era. The name Helsingborg is made of two parts, helsing + borg. Since this is the most narrow part of the strait it’s called a “hals” or “hels”, meaning “neck”.  Those who lived on each side of that neck were called “helsings”/neckings. On the western shore of the strait Kronborg Castle is built on a tiny peninsula/ör, hence the name “Helsingör”. On the Scanian side a fortress was built, hence the name “Helsingborg”. The most important merchant sites in the Viking Era were Råå and Köping, later called Ramlösa, and Helsingborg was then less significant. But then something happened. In 1070 the German monk Adam of Bremen wrote: “There’s a short passage at the Baltic Sea at Helsingborg, from where Zeeland can  be seen from Scania, a common lair for Vikings”.  A few years later, on May 21st 1085, the Danish king Canute the Holy wrote a letter of city recognition for “Helsingaburg” to the Archbishopric of Lund.  This date, May 21st 1085 is seen as the formal “birth” of the city. During the 11th century three wooden churches were built on the beach, Saint Clemens, Saint Petri/Peter and Saint Olai. During the 1200’s those churches were rebuilt in stone. On a hill a little east of the beach where the settlement was situated a round fortress had been built. Around the main tower a wall, 180 meters long, a gate to the east and Saint Michael’s Chapel built into the wall to the west. Here the sheriff could controll the trade routes from the north and also guard the Danish border to what later would be called Sweden. During the 13th century the settlement and trading grew, Saint Mary Church was built and in 1313 king Erik Menved had a new main tower of the fort built in square-shape, six floors high and with four meter thick walls. This is the tower we still see today, even though the ringwall around it is long gone.

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In 1310 Erik Menved held a peace-meeting at Helsingborg Castle. His son-in-law, the Swedish king Birger Magnusson who was married to Erik’s daughter Margarethe, had a quarrel with his brothers, the dukes Erik and Valdemar. They had in 1307 captured and jailed king Birger and his queen at Håtuna Estate, but the royal couple had later been released. Erik Menved made a peace-treaty between them in Helsingborg, but just a few years later a new trauma. In December 1317 king Birger Magnusson took his brothers captive at a Christmas banquet at Nyköping Castle, had them jailed and starved to death. In the Spring of 1318 the Dukes’ allies put a siege on Nyköping and Birger and Margarethe had to flee to Erik Menved at Helsingborg Castle. (Read more in my December text “A December intrigue with fatal consequenses”). After the battle of Mjölkalånga Helsingborg was put under siege again. Erik Menved died in 1319 and Count Johan of Holstein in Germany got Scania, Halland, Blekinge, Lolland and most of Zeeland as a pledge. Count Johan became unpopular in Scania and the Scanians asked the Swedish king Magnus Eriksson, son of the killed duke Erik, if he could help them. In 1332 Helsingborg was put under a new siege and the Swedish king took over the pledge for 34 000 mark. For 28 years Scania was ruled by the Swedish crown.

In 1361 the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag/New Day, attacked and sacked Visby on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. On his way there he reclaimed Scania in 1360. Two years later and also in 1368 the new Swedish king Albrecht of Mecklenburg tried to reclaim it again, but failed. However 1370 – 1385 Helsingborg was ruled by the German merchant corporation Hansan. Then the Danish queen Margarethe took it back. She founded the Kalmar union between Denmark, Sweden and Norway. In 1400 her relative Erik of Pommern which she had made new king had his coming-of-age-celebration in Helsingborg. In 1440 the city was taken by the next Danish king, Kristoffer I who died there a few years later. By 1452 the Swedish leader Karl Knutsson Bonde had attacked Helsingborg with 20 canons and destroyed the city walls, and burned many houses.

83 years later, in 1535, the so called Count Feud was going on in Denmark and Helsingborg was drawn into it.  Helsingborg’s castle-lord then, Tage Krabbe, was attacked by besiegers from German Lübeck and the city of Malmoe led by Jörgen Kock.  Tage Krabbe decided though to change his allegiances, put the fire on the defenders of the city and let the attackers in.

In 1644 the Swedish general Gustav Horn attacked Scania/Skåne and on February 17th he took Helsingborg, let his men steal the inhabitants’ grain and cattle, and tear down houses to make bonfires. The year after the peace-treaty of Brömsebro between Denmark and Sweden became a harsh blow for the Danish crown and for the inhabitants of Helsingborg. In 1654-1658 the town was strengthened with new fortifications, but that year – 1658 – at the peace-treaty at Roskilde Cathedral Denmark had to give up Scania to Sweden. (Read more in my piece “Sweden’s Super-Power Era 1611-1718”). Scania was suddenly Swedish, but the Swedization process was long, cruel and harsh. Scanian partisans, The Snapphane movement, resisted and many Scanians still felt allegiance to the Danes. On June 29th 1676 1500 Danish soldiers appeared outside the city and fought 310 defenders.  The Danes took Helsingborg Castle that winter, but the Swedish king Carl XI retaliated, took it back and sacked the city, since he didn’t trust the Scanians. This happened just weeks after the battle of Lund, which had become one of the bloodiest in Scandinavian history. In 1678 Carl XI put the nobleman Carl Hård as governor of Scania at the castle. The last attempt to take Scania back by the Danes was made in 1709-1710. On November 2d 1709 a new Danish army put a siege on Helsingborg. The Swedish army had lost the battle of Poltava in Ukraine, and the Danish king seized the opportunity.  The new Swedish governor though, Magnus Stenbock, (the man in the statue above) who ruled Scania 1705-1713, had too weak soldiers and retreated to Småland. The citizens of Helsingborg visited the Danish king Frederik IV and asked him to protect the city against the Swedes, and in late November 1709 he was pronounced king in Helsingborg too. In February 1710 Magnus Stenbock came back with new forces and sourrounded the city. A battle was fought on February 28th which the Swedes won. The Danish army fled back inside the city. First on March 5th 1710 they had to surrender and left.Before they did so they killed all the horses and destroyed the crops. The Danes had lost.The dead horses infected the city and plague was a lethal disease here in 1710-1711.

During the 1700’s Helsingborg didn’t have a very large population and lost most of its former glory. All the wars and plundering had put its mark on the city. Also during the first part of the 19th century Helsingborg was quite unsignificant. However, in 1832 a real harbour was built, a harbour which grew and grew. In 1799 Erik Ruuth had founded factories for clay vessel making and construction of iron tools. With the industrial revolution new companies started, such as Zoégas for instance.  The population also grew rapidly. In the 1870’s the population in Helsingborg increased three times as fast as Malmoe and Ystad. In 1850 Helsingborg had 4140 inhabitants, in 1900 24 670 – 1950 there were ca 80 000 and in 1970 100 000 people. Between 1835 and 1850 the export of grain was doubled. In the late 1800’s the rail-road appeared and in 1919 the Chocolate factory was founded. Significant mercantile moguls like Petter Olsson and Nils Persson became famous local celebrities. In October 1943 during World War II the Nazis wanted to send Denmark’s Jews to concentration and death camps. But they were warned and almost all of them managed to escape the Nazis in boats over Öresund and taken to Malmoe and Helsingborg.  Many Jewish refugees were put in rooms at the Town Hall and later also Ramlösa Brunnshotell. In August 1973 our former king, (our present king’s grandfather), Gustav VI Adolf became mortally ill at Sofiero Castle and passed away at the hospital.

Helsingborg has a rich and long history, many beautiful sites, nice places to spend time, a strong attraction, a vivid mercantile structure and different forms of culture. As I walked back along the harbour this last Saturday evening after having had dinner with my friends nearby I strolled along the shore, watching the night sky, the many different boats and houses. I walked to Knutpunkten to take the train back to Malmoe. Helsingborg is nice, just like Malmoe. I love this place, Scania, where I was born. There are many things here too that I don’t like either, but that is another story. Anyway… Helsingborg is worthwile.

Anders Moberg, August 21st 2013

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The different faces of Skanör with Falsterbo

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Three days ago I visited my new friend Mons Krabbe in Skanör on the Falsterbo peninsula. I have mentioned that corner in some of my earlier texts about Scania/Skåne, e.g. in “What’s in a name?” from late May, and also when I wrote about the Viking museum in Foteviken in July, which is located just north of this utmost south-west part of Sweden and Scania. Mons guided me round Skanör, showing me old important sites and the beautiful nature there. Mons’ father Peter Krabbe who is an architect has made new scientific research about the fortress hill where the sheriff’s fortress once was located in the Middle Ages. Peter Krabbe has written five very interesting articles about his research, the story behind it and he also has made a new reconstruction of the fortress. If you read Swedish I think you should go to his web log too, called www.peterkrabbe.wordpress.com. Mons Krabbe showed me the hill where not much is left of the old fortress, but the place is still enticing, and the place has a unique background and modern present story which I now will try to retell.

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Skanör, which literally means “The Dangerous Peninsula” and got this name already 2000 years ago, was originally not very significant, apart from being known for the treacherous waters outside. However in the late Viking Era and early High Middle Ages Öresund and the southern part of the Baltic Sea was teaming with herring. The waters were thick with this kind of fish. In the Early High Middle Ages we in Scandinavia were Roman Catholics, and it was forbidden to eat meat unless under certain times of the year, so the use of herring was cheap and plenty. In the beginning of the 12th century two small cities were founded on the peninsula, Skanör and Falsterbo. In 1146 there was a violent storm and flood which killed lots of people, but still the commerce started here. Market places were formed for the herring trade, which became an important income for the Danish king. In 1169 the Danish king made a crusade to Arkona, on the German island of Rügen where the Vendes lived. They traded with herring too, but they were not Christians and instead sacrificed to their god Svantevik. When they wanted Christian merchants and priests to be sacrificed to their deity the Christian merchants had had enough, which led to the foundation of the new cities. Sometime 1170-1210 the Danish king Valdemar Sejr/Victory and Archbishop Absalon in Lund gave orders to the building of a fortress in Skanör. From there the local sheriff could survey the herring trade which would be booming for years to come. The main building was a rectangular house in two floors, 16 times 8 meters big, and made of bricks. There was also a circular tower, (a so called keep), some smaller buildings and outside the fortress-walls it was surrounded by an inner and an outer moat in circular shape. The fortress was built in the German tradition which was prevailing and modern in those days. From there the sheriff could, (aided by his soldiers), maintain law and order, collect taxes and duties from the fishermen and merchants.

During the Middle Ages Skanör with Falsterbo became one of Northern Europe’s most important trading markets. The commerce was going on between August and October and it has been estimated that ca 40 000 people came to the market place of Skanör every year. In the Danish Capital City of Copenhagen/Köbenhavn there lived about 3000 people at the end of the 14th century, this according to the web site www.skanorfalsterbo.com. About the same time as the fortress was constructed Saint Olof’s church was built, which you see in two of the photos above. It replaced an earlier chapel on the same spot, which had been made of wood. In 1311 Skanör and Falsterbo were put under siege and conquered for a while by the Vendic, North German Hansa cities of Rostock, Wismar and Greifswald. They didn’t like the Danish competition, and there was a merchant war going on against the Danish king Erik Menved. In response to this siege and sack of Skanör and Falsterbo Erik Menved decided to make a bigger and stronger castle in the region, which was completed in 1318. That was Falsterbohus Castle. During the 14th century the sheriff moved from the old fortress in Skanör to Falsterbohus Castle. The old fort became more and more neglected and gradually fell into decay. Below you see a painting I’ve made after an old black-and-white drawing of the Medieval herring market. I have written in my picture that the original drawing was made by Wagenaer, but that is wrong. The original artist is unknown, and a blown-up version of that picture can be seen at Falsterbo Museum. You also see a photography I took of the beach from Skanör harbor this last Thursday, but from a slightly different angle than the drawing. It’s the same beach though.

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At the beginning of the 16th century the amount of herring in Öresund began to decline. The herring trade gradually lost its importance for the national and local economy. The two cities turned into rather common fishing-villages. So they remained during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. After the Swedish conquest of Scania in 1658 this region had no real significance. In the 1770’s stones from the old fortress were taken by the local inhabitants when de la Rose ordered the building of a new Town Hall, and the fortress hill had been used as a quarry for centuries. In 1754 Skanör and Falsterbo stopped being formally two cities, but instead named as a unity. In 1872 there was a flood which went up to the church and ruined large parts of Skanör. Both in 1874 and 1885 Skanör was victim of large fires which also destroyed most of the old fine buildings. Trees were planted to avoid further disasters. Between the years 1907 and 1909 the professor Otto Rydbeck from Lund University excavated the fortress hill and later published his results. Now Peter Krabbe has used new techniques to make an improved reconstruction of that site, a reconstruction I’ve used for my drawing of the fortress above. A railway was also built in the beginning of the 1900’s, and the Falsterbo Line existed 1904-1971. In the beginning of the last century the Swedish upper class, the royal family and aristocracy noticed the beauty of the place and began coming here. Skanör and Falsterbo became a seaside resort for the wealthy families. In 1908 Falsterbo Hotell was completed. After World War II Skanör with Falsterbo was Sweden’s smallest city, but in the late 1960’s it grew again as a suburb to Malmoe. Skanör with Falsterbo is though situated in Vellinge Municipality nowadays.

The region has become famous also for other things. Along the western tip there’s a nature reserve called Flommen. Flommen nature reserve is 865 hectares/2 162 acres big. It’s a mix of bays, lagoons, beaches and sand formations which attract many types of animals. Every autumn hundreds of thousands of different birds pass this way, rest here for a while and Flommen is therefore popular among ornitologists/bird-watchers. Especially Nabben, the south-west tip of the reserve. In the south we also find Falsterbo light-house from the 18th century and also Kolabacken. In July every year there’s also a big, famous riding competetion called Falsterbo Horse Show. Read more of that at http://www.falsterbohorseshow.se Watching the landscape is a marvel and anyone who can go to Skanör with Falsterbo really ought to.

Anders Moberg, August 18th 2013

A United Malmoe/Ett Enat Malmö

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Like so many places here on Earth the city of Malmoe has both its good aspects and its bad. Then again it depends who you ask what the good and bad things are. In a way I see the city I live in as a kind of micro-cosmos of the world as a whole. Malmoe is hard, cruel, divided, stubborn, violent, segregated and unjust. Malmoe is also comfortable, laid-back and nice, co-operating, peaceful, welcoming and beautiful. The different social problems with segregation, poverty, violence, death-shootings, racist-attacks, hate-crimes, honour-related violence and gang life which has given Malmoe a bad reputation to some extent, abroad too, has a positive opposite side in the beautiful aspects of this city’s life. The yang opposing yin. Malmoe has during the last 15-20 years been given a much more attractive surface in many places, modern illuminated bridges and objects, fountains, statues and sculptures, high-tech and modern architecture mixed with older classical buildings, cafés, more parks and green-areas as well as bicycle-paths. But there is also a new trend in recent years which I like in distinct opposition of this city’s bad-will. That is a much more distinct awareness  and a wish to do good. A work in more unison. Different ways to oppose hatred, oppose crime, oppose injustices, drug-deals, and instead work for good values: fairness, co-operation, affection, respect. I like that. We will always have a divided city and a divided world, but there can ALWAYS be improvements both on smaller and bigger scales. Today I intend to write about one such attempt which naturally must be put in perspective as one piece in the bigger jigzaw-puzzle of Malmoe life and human interaction.

Between August 1st and August 3d there were seminars, panel-debates, information tables, discussions and work-shops held at Sofielunds Folkets Hus. It was a co-operation between Malmoe University, Glokala Folkhögskolan/The Glocal Folk High School and some non-profit organizations. They were Skåne Stadsmission/Scania City Mission, Ge rasismen rött kort/Give racism a red card, Hassela Ungdomsrörelse/Hassela Youth Movement, Hela Malmö/All Malmoe, Välkommen!/Welcome!, Café Pan-Africa Malmö, Rörelsen Gatans Röst och Ansikte/The Movement the Voice and Face of the Street. Also Romskt Informations- och Kunskapscenter/Romany  Information and Knowledge Centre as well as Malmö mot Diskriminering/Malmoe Against Discrimination. The network “Ett enat Malmö”/A united Malmo was formed on initiative by the Institute for Social work at Malmoe University. The idea is to gather social-workers, scientists, other dedicated people and different organizations to build platforms for co-operation over the borders. You find information at http://www.ettenatmalmo.se. During those three days, August 1st to 3d, they had something called The Summer Academy. I went there to participate day two and three. I couldn’t participate in day one for various reasons, since I was otherwise engaged. During day one they had discussed: “For a united Malmoe”, “Swedish sports” – good and bad, challenges, inclusion. “Who are we and who are they?,” “Bridge-building between science and activism”, “Refugees without papers”, “Laws against discrimination” and the rap-school “Beat it”.  When I arrived for day two there were some different work-shops to choose from. I talked to some friends, acquaintences, former pupils and some new people. This Friday morning was warm and beautiful. When I had taken information leaflets and watched the list of the later workshops I sat down for the first part. A panel debate about “Hopelessness, hope, hip hop and different knowledges in the meetings.”.

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The panel consisted of both a couple of scientists and some young people between 19 and 34 who had chosen or ended up on a non-academic path in life – at least as yet. The marvellous and enjoyable thing to see was the respectful way between all seven in the panel. But that was just the purpose, to show the various background, presenting part of each panel member’s background story, and then discuss attitudes, life choices and bridge-building in accordance with every individual’s choices, challenges and life stories. One thing that was said in criticism was that no politicians had come, despite invitations, to this Summer Academy. All the same the discussions were interesting. Johan Söderman who was a music scientist told us that he had a working-class background, but had chosen an academic path for his life, but also with a heart that was beating for those kids who were in trouble or had tough life situations. He also talked about the two slightly different concepts of “bildning” and “utbildning”.  “Utbildning” is the Swedish equivalent of “education”: What you learn in Schools on different levels. “Bildning” on the other hand could more be translated as “knowledge acquiring”.  It might be applied on many different things. How you learn to walk or ride a bike, how to play football or to dance, what you learn from the Internet, or from being and speaking with other people etc. Johan Söderman also pinpointed how important it is to learn in different ways and that both ways are equally good, depending on personality types, skills and wishes. A professor isn’t necessarily more intelligent and better than a baker or a ballet dancer. We all have a journey, a journey of different knowledge acquiring in our lifes, in Swedish “en bildningsresa”. Janet Jadanné to the far right in the picture above is a dance teacher. Her father is retired and her mother a cleaning-lady. Janet started dancing early on in life, first just for fun as a hobby, and later more seriously. She had got new assignments and had been dancing for a dance academy in the suburb of Rosengård for some years. Batoul, second to the right above, was born in Borås, but grew up in the suburb Kroksbäck here in Malmoe. She has led a rather normal youth life.  Some time ago she was persuaded to join the Hassela Youth Movement. When she got there she had loved it. It was like a big, warm family. Batoul also said that as a voluntary job she within that movement had been working as an extra help teacher at a lower-secondary school here in town. She had commited herself to the kids, kicked ball in the play-ground with them, helped them understand the school-work and become very appreciated, but she had sensed a sulkiness and jealousy from some teachers. All the same, Batoul loved what she was doing. Iman, 19 years old, had been working extra in a store when she too was persuaded to join Hassela Youth Movement. She has also loved the atmosphere there and said that she would like to continue with it. Filip Wallander is leader of a scientific reasearch platform at Malmoe University. He had a totally academic background, where both parents had been well-educated and it was not a question of if Filip would study at university, but when. Filip Wallander is into social studies and now head of Ett Enat Malmö. Daniel “Danny” Diaz, 34, had a tough upbringing, but the music saved him. Through rap and hip hop he could express himself, even if he was on the brink of falling through in his teen-age years. When he was working at school in Lund he met Johan Söderman, the music scientist and they became friends and have been so for more than a decade. Nicklas, 32, has a dedication for kids who go through tough times, and helping them to a spare time outside crime and other problems. He himself had a tough upbringing, but at the age of 22 Nicklas found his path combining basket-ball playing and hip hop.  Another word used for all these activities was “community” as one of the panel members said. One woman in the audience protested slightly though that she hadn’t asked people from other cultures to come here, and that she who had grown up here must be able to make some demands. She was met with  silence.

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After the panel debate there were workshops. I decided to go to the one called “Combining theory and work practice: performing intersectional social work”. It was held by Johanna Saunders above, leader at Enter Mötesplats/Enter Moot, which is part of Malmoe City Mission’s work. She was talking about their work with young people of various backgrounds.  Since Malmoe is a city with social problems and huge gaps the City Mission try to help people in trouble.  We were about 15-20 people in the room listening to her, and Johanna Saunders was very good listening to, distinct and clear in her descriptions. She said that it’s vital to have knowledge, different activities, awareness about different society functions and give the girls and young women they help individual support and guidance. At Enter Mötesplats they have separate support-talks, ombudsman activities with contacts with authorities, schools etc. They also have network-meetings and aid to move on. Their working method/approach, is adapted after each girl they meet. Enter Mötesplats have regular girl-meetings and the girl’s right to influence the way forward and affect their own lives is vital. They are challenged to change. The articles 2, 3, 6, 12, 19, 26, 27, 31 and 4 in the UN’s Children’s Convention is the foundation for their work. The intersectional work is about analyzing, investigating and influence different forms of inequalities and power-structures. Also to think and reflect critically, actively work against discrimination from a Human Right’s perspective. The intersectional work  has the purpose to strengthen the target group’s emanicipation and empowerment. An abbreviation which was used here was KASAM/Känsla AV Sammanhang, which in English would be “Feeling Of Context”. Enter Mötesplats has four full time social workers and they co-operate with the Social Services, BUP/Child and Youth Psychiatry, KomVux, i.e. Municipal Adult School and Malmoe University.  After the seminar I exchanged a few words with Johanna and left the room pondering.

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After the work-shop I had been to there was a break again. I went out in the sun for a while, talking to some of my friends and acquaintances. Then I had a coffee inside and talked to Gustavo Nazar and a couple of young adults about what we had learned.  The next seminar was held by professor Tapio Salonen from Malmoe University. He was talking about the cracks in the well-fare systems. He showed us different diagrams where he compared Sweden with other countries, the economic situation in Sweden during recent years and the last three to four decades. The economic situation in Sweden isn’t at all bad in comparison, but the gaps between those who have and those who haven’t any financial and social security has widened greatly the last 5-10-20 years.  The child poverty is growing, even though it’s not as great as in many other countries. Tapio Salonen has his lectures for both students, non-profit organizations and wealthy industry-leaders alike. Some research-results about racism on the housing-market have deliberately also been covered-up, Salonen told us, because the results are awkward, even on government level. He showed us the social division in Malmoe, a division most of us already were well familiar with.  For me personally it’s important to be able to combine personal development, economic progress and relative ambition with awareness and a social conscience. A balance which isn’t easy to find. Professor Salonen was very laid-back and knowledgeable, and he was very dedicated, that was evident.

 

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The next morning, Saturday, August 3d was a new fine day. Again many had gathered for the last day of this Summer Academy. It started at ten a.m. with new workshops. This time I chose to participate in one called “Maktanalytikerna”/The Power Analysts. It was led by Charlene Rosander, whom you see to the left in the photo above. She has these power-analyse-games with pupils at Pauli Upper-Secondary School.  One of her pupils from Pauli helped her in this work-shop. We were gathered in a ring and asked to present ourselves. Then we were given notes with a word containing a phenomenon related to social status, racism, power etc. Then we should explain our ideas about that word. Another game was to walk around the room to music and stop when Charlene called out a question, e.g: “What are the expected demands on a girl?” or “What are the expected demands on a boy?” etc.  We should then discuss that two or three together. We also were given a note each with a description of who we would be: e.g. “an unemployed 40-year old white woman” or “a white male tennis-player” or “a white male in a wheel-chair” or “an unemployed immigrant-woman”. Then we should take a step forward for each time we could do anything suggested for a specific situation. This was a training in empathy and power-reflection.

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Irene Molina from Stockholm University had also been invited to talk about utopic societies and the world we live in. The word “Utopia” means “A place which doesn’t exist”. It was coined in 1516 by the British philosopher and theologian Thomas Moore who was working during the rule of Henry VIII, but later jailed and executed in 1535 when he refused to acknowledge the king as head of the new Anglican Church.  Irene Molina described what Moore had said about Utopia, but also explained that even if we live in a dystopic society, as we tend to do now partly, we need the utopic ideas to stay alive and develop.  She also talked about the power-structures in society, the assymetric pattern in it all and the segregation. The day was ended with some hip hop-talents. All in all it was interesting to listen in what was said, and the many thought-provocative topics. We do not have a perfect society, and we never will, and there will always be schisms between different wishes and interpretations of reality.  Depending on who we are, where we are, what situation we’re in, what ideologies we value and ambitions we have we never will agree totally. There will continue to be clashes between different idelogies, but given some effort and good-will many people of different “colours” might construct some bridges between us anyway, irrespective of age, gender, social, ethnic, political and religious background.

Anders Moberg, August 12th 2013

Gender hate and love between the sexes

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When I study the society and the world around me and also participate in the different debates I see (in my eyes), a very tragic dichotomization in the discussions about the society, changes and not changes, life-styles, do’s and dont’s. The debates today are in my eyes too often black or white, creating us and them. This kind of dichotomy often loses the many nuances in the big picture of things. Now it’s often divided in left or right, missing the nuances, or religious vs non-religious, missing the nuances in between, or city vs country-side, missing the nuances. There are also debates about what’s Swedish or not, about racism and what racism is, but too often divided in very distinct camps in two corners which hate each other, instead of trying to listen in the other side’s perspective and admit that “they too” might have more than one point in their views which might be reasonable. When I participate in the debates on Twitter, follow its flow sometimes I see this division very clearly and it’s very tragic in my eyes. As I see it both sides in a fierce debate often are both slightly right and slightly wrong, but there’s so much hate and prestige from both the left side and the right side, (if we take that as an example), that hinders a sensible development. Instead it fires even more hate, even more fear, even more opposing conflicts in an often unnecessary way. We will always have conflicts about values, solutions and different “camps”, but too often these visions in black and white, “Either you’re with us or with them”, create a more or less huge gap of hate and power-prestige – unnecessarily. This dichotomized thinking of hate, prestige and fear of “the other side” who think or live more or less different than yourself make these multi-coloured perspectives which might nuance the picture and easen the problems drown in an abyss of spite, folly and power-games.

Today I intend to write about a subject which is very up-to-date and very important for the development of our societies, both here in Sweden and on other places on Earth. I will write about gender hate and love between the sexes. Recently here in Sweden there have been new cases of hatred against women. This time from Swedish sport journalists who mocked Swedish female football players, which I mentioned a few weeks ago in one of my texts, and there are many examples of misogyni/hatred of women in our different societies around the globe, sometimes expressed in the same way, sometimes in different ones. Apart from misogyni/hatred of women there is also something called misandry/hatred of men, which sometimes exists mainly among certain women. I will here describe different aspects of feminisms and the struggle for female empowerment, the many priveleges through history for us men, but also various aspects of gender equality from both female and male perspectives. My aim is to pinpoint the various aspects in order to easen the conflicts between the sexes, and also create a better understanding between men and women. After all… We are not meant to hate each other, but instead try to love each other as much  as possible. We will never get a perfect situation, and conflicts will continue to exist, and also both expressions of misogyni and misandry respectively. However I will try to come with some form of enlightenment to, hopefully, easen this polarization.

Through history there is no doubt whatsoever that we men have had most of the power to decide things. We have used our often superior physical strength, our brawns so to speak to fight other men, fight about the right to mate with the females, hunt games and participate in wars. We see a similar behaviour-pattern in the animal world, so it’s partly genetical. However, we are also creatures slightly different from the great apes and other animals. We have created our societies a little differently, and in the last two hundred years the wheels of change have spinned faster and faster, and that also concerns the attitudes between the sexes,and different aspects of human rights. Through the millennia the women haven’t had many of these rights, but often been treated as merchandise, as objects to be looked at, forced to be home, give birth, foster the children, been sold into marriages, and being raped both by strangers and men close to them. There is also a long “tradition” of male hate and spite of women, and female “characteristics”, also in men. Homosexuality and trans-sexuality has often been sneered at and despised both among men and women, even though the homosexuals and lesbians now fight harshly for their rights, but often in hard opposition in many countries.  Often the women haven’t had the right to work outside the home or inherit as much as men, or even anything. Still there have been variations of this too, and there have been societies where women have had the right to divorce, where they have had right to own things and run businesses, and where some kind of equlitarian thinking has existed. Most societies through history have been patriarch-ruled, but a few examples of matriarchates have also existed, such as the Iroqouis society in North America. There the Iroqouis Indians were ruled by a clan-mother who had the top position in society. The gender-roles were the most common, men hunted, built things and fought neighbouring tribes, while women picked berries, made clothes of skin and fostered the children, but the men moved in to the woman’s family after marriage and the clan-mother had the last word.

As a distinct movement feminism began more or less in the 18th century, ca 250 years ago, but there had been feminists and embryos to today’s feminist movements earlier than that. In 1405 a woman named Christine de Pizans wrote “The Woman City” and William Page (1590-1663) wrote “Woman’s Worth”. In 17th century Paris, France the so-called “blue-stockings”/”les bas bleus” or “les précieuses” organised themselves, writing about society from women’s perspectives, about love-stories and female empowerment. It was a clear movement in the French 1600’s, but often now missed and forgotten. In 1792 Mary Wollestonecraft wrote “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”, an important work for the early feminists. Here in Sweden the most important names in early feminism have been Carin Sophie Adlersparre, (1823-1895) who among other things started the magazine “Tidskrift för hemmet/The Domestic Magazine”, but also schools for working-class-girls and reading rooms for women. She was also editor of the magazine “Dagny”. Another important person in these days was Fredrika Bremer, (1801-1865) who wrote the novel “Hertha” and with it influenced the Swedish legal system. I wrote a bit more about her in my February text “Feminisms”, and I’ve also mentioned other Swedish influential early names in my piece “Highlighting the development of Swedish democracy”, also from February this year. Also Elin Wägner (1882-1949) was an important feminist. In 1919 the then new coalition-government of The People’s Party the Liberals and The Swedish Social Democratic Party in unison passed the law for women’s right to vote, and Sweden’s women went to the election hall for the first time in 1921. In Great Britain the suffragettes struggled for the British women’s rights to vote a hundred years ago, led by the sufragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst. In 1913 a woman belonging to the suffragettes threw herself infront of the kings’ horse at a horse race and was killed. Both peaceful and violent methods were used in the struggle for female emancipation. The first female doctor in the West was Elizabeth Blackwell who got her medical exam in 1849 and then worked as an influential medical doctor in New York.  To illustrate female empowerment in the early 1900’s I here include a drawing I’ve made taken from the British TV-series “House of Elliot”.

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But this movement of female emancipation has not been specific only for the West. Around 1850 the Bahai-movement was founded in Iran. This religious movement started by Báb and Bahá ullah pinpointed the importance of equal rights for men and women. The founder of the Bahai religion interpreted God’s will in such a way that the possibilities for progress and prosperity in a society only is delayed or stopped if not the women are treated as equal to men. The female poet Tahareh joined the Bahai-movement and started showing herself in public without a veil/hijab in 1848. She was then killed as a martyr in Iran in 1852, two years after Báb also was killed. The Bahai-movement still exists today though.

Today there’s a great variety of feminist directions or sub-groups, derived from mainly the Liberal feminism and the Socialist feminism. There are today sub-groups such as Marxist feminists, radical feminists, anarchy feminists, queer feminists, Amazon feminists, trans-national feminists, the original Liberal feminists and Socalist feminists and religious feminists within different religious systems. This variety pinpoint different aspects depending on what political ideology that particular woman has, what she or that group puts most focus on and the surrounding values. As a man I believe that I and other men ought to learn how to treat the women in a way that is acceptable and love them in a good and fair way, but also the other way round. No one is perfect, we all fail occassionally, we all, irrespective of gender, age, social, political or religious belonging, have character flaws, we make mistakes sometimes all of us, but we can at least try to understand each other and create a better foundation for the future. This in order to improve both as individuals and also make our societies at least slightly better.

As it is now I see bad attitudes from men versavi women, but also bad attitudes among women versavi men. There’s a stereotyped hate and mockery of both men and women, but both those expressions of misogyni and misandry respectively only increases a hatred between the sexes, instead of solving the situations in a good way. That is a great tragedy and a serious problem as I see it. Now, I don’t call myself a feminist, and I see both the good and bad characteristics in both us men and in women, and both sexes as equally “brilliant/wise/constructive and evil/stupid/destructive”. However I try to be fair and just as much as I can, and  I DO want to see improvements in the attitudes both among men and women.

Here in Sweden there are at least two male organizations working for gender equality, but from different angles and with different perspectives. Those are Män för Jämställdhet, MfJ, (Men for Gender Equality), which was founded in 1993 by men active in the Board for the Swedish branch of Save the Children. They were influenced by the Canadian organization The White Ribbon Campaign. Män för Jämställdhet led from Stockholm work in different local groups for a masculinity which is more caring, less macho and more attentive to women, and often co-operating with feminist organizations for gender equality. In 2006 MfJ was included in the global network Men Engage which work in different parts of the world for better attitudes among men towards women. You find information at http://www.mfj.se and http://www.menengage.org.

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The other organization is called Mansnätverket/The Male Network, http://www.mansnatverket.nu. They started as organization to oppose the feminists, since they don’t buy the feminist description of reality. Two main characters there have been Per Billing and Per Ström. They have called themselves Jämställdister/Equalitists.  They have for example said that total 50/50 equality isn’t preferable, and that men and women are different from each other mostly in what choices they make, and what careers they have. They also lifted other aspects of “unfairness” between men and women from a male perspective. They pinpointed e.g. men’s obligation to go to war, men’s “expected” demand to pay for the family, that men not seldom have or have had dangerous jobs, and an expected self-sacrifice. They also said that women make bad choices sometimes and also have a tendency to accuse men for being heterosexual. Women often want men to “take it as a man”, to behave in a masculine way, but also want men who are wealthy and hard. From my perspective as a man myself I agree that both these organizations, MfJ and Mansnätverket put light on important aspects that shouldn’t be neglected, and both are again both right and wrong. The annoying thing is that those two organizations have been in collision and especially Mansnätverket have hacked down hard on MfJ and feminists. On November 8th 2012 Per Ström from Mansnätverket wrote that he now resigns from the gender debate. In the Spring of 2012 he had been harshly attacked during a pub meeting by ca 50 feminist activists, among them the writer Maria Sveland, who started shouting, taking photos and gave him a picture with a cut-off dick. He has also been hated and ridiculed in media and many in the establishment who have harrassed Per Ström and publically bullied him for his views.

In the beginning of July there was a debate about gender equality during the Elm Valley Week/Almedalsveckan on the island of Gotland. The participants were Gudrun Schymann, former leader of the Left Party the Communists, and now leader of Feministiskt Initiativ and Birgitta Ohlsson, EU Minister in the present government and Liberal Feminist. It was nice to see that they didn’t seriously attack each other, but instead showed and admitted that they sometimes co-operate over the ideological borders. Afterwards I congratulated Birgitta Ohlsson on Twitter about this, which she seemed to appreciate. When I briefly met Gudrun Schymann during a seminar here in Malmoe in January 2012 I congratulated her too for her good work, even though I don’t share her left-wing ideology but am a social liberal myself.

As I see it we all carry life-stories, experiences, up-bringings and values with us. Values which we sometimes test and challenge, other times preserve. We are both alike and unalike. There are different ways of being a man, there are different ways of being a woman. There are heterosexuals, lesbians, homosexuals and trans-sexuals. The important thing though is to see the common value for us all, and respect both our similarities and our differences. We live in an already harsh world, why then make it even more harsh? As a heterosexual man I love the opposite sex and am like most heterosexual men attracted to women, or at least some of them. To finally illustrate the love between man and woman I have chosen an early teen-age picture I once made showing the characters Papageno and Pamina from the opera The Magic Flute /Die Zauberflöte from 1791 by Emmanuel Schikaneder and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In that scene the bird-catcher Papageno and the princess Pamina sing the duett “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” about the love between the sexes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCrSIuj-giA&index=6&list=PL0E4C07C7BA5D48C7  Something to work for?

Anders Moberg, August 9th 2013

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Clashes of ideologies and attempts to create bridges

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We humans have always been afraid of others who are slightly different than ourselves, but also helpful, kind and curious on other groups in order to form new alliances and an understanding for each other. In these modern days of intense turmoil, of conflicts of various sorts it is even more important to remember these general human aspects to at least, hopefully, easen the conflicts, wars, and problems we see in this world. It is true that we as human creatures on this globe also have been warriors, competetive, sly, devious and unjust, ever since the earliest hominids walked the East African soil. Nevertheless, both bonding and bridge-building always also have existed since the very beginning when our human race slowly began to emerge. Try to imagine yourself in the stone-age. Different forms of humans existed, Homo Erectus who emmigrated from Africa millions of years ago, and much later a smaller version of those developed on the tiny island of Flores. Other groups of Homo Erectus developed into Neanderthals in Europe and ruled that part for at least 60 000 years, before they met our ancestors, Homo Sapiens. A small group of our ancestors left East Africa sometime 100 000 – 80 000 years ago into what’s now Yemen and slowly but steadily spread all over the globe. A globe which we now all inhabit. Of course there was foul play, jealousy, male fights about mating the females, rivalry, hate and wars against wild animals to protect our offspring. But also to get food and clothing, fights between different groups and clans, as  well as with the Neanderthals and Homo Floresiensis. The  Swedish scientist Svante Pääbo has in recent years proven through studies of our mitocondrial DNA that all humans from outside Africa: Semites, Caucasians, Asians and Native Americans share a common gene-pool which have been slightly mixed with the Neanderthals, which shows that some interbreeding has existed between the groups. However, co-operation, kindness and affection have also been other surviving techniques for the species, and no man is an island, entire of itself, as John Donne once said in the 17th century. Both Neanderthals and our Stone Age ancestors buried their dead, and seem to have had cermonies for it. This shows that there has been a spiritual awareness and mind already back then.

Over the millennia different beliefs and creeds have developed, both religious and secular ones. I will come to those too further down. The important thing in these days of intensified conflicts is to see our common human value and try to easen the conflicts, try to build bridges between us. Tomorrow I will write about gender hate and love between the sexes, and in a few days more about how positive work, awareness, affection and human respect might be an important road forward for many of us to make the human situation more acceptable.

All around the globe there have been many different belief systems, just as it is today. Shamanism in Siberia and ancient Japan, as well as in the Americas, but also other religions as well. There have been beliefs with different pantheons of gods in Sumer, today’s Iraq, in India, which have developed into Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. The Indian prince Siddharta Gautama had a spiritual awakening, left his family and the palace to find spiritual balance and became Buddha in the 6th century BCE. His followers, the Buddhists and Shinto Buddhists in Japan have found their way. The Chinese philosopher Kon Fu Tse/Confucius also was a wise man which affected the Chinese way of finding structure and balance in life. In Africa there were many different religions, since Africa is the continent where we as species have existed the longest. Also in Oceania there have existed and still exist a myriad of religious beliefs.

The religious founder Zarathustra/Zardusht in today’s Iran created a religion called Zoroastrianism ca 3 800 years ago and collected this dualistic ideas of struggle between darkness and light, fire and water, good and evil in the Avesta. In their own tongue that belief was called Veh Din, The Good Religion. In 2010 there were ca 2.6 millions of Zoroastrians living mainly in Iran and India, and it was the dominant creed in ancient Persia/Iran for 2000 years until the Muslim invasion in the 600’s CE.  Since 2007 there’s also a Zoroastrian Centre in Paris. When the Persians had invaded Babylon in 539-538 BCE and the Jewish people were captives in Babylon for a time the Jews were influenced in their own religion by the Zoroastrians, which later also affected the later religions Christianity and Islam. But there are also many other creeds around the world now: Jains, Druzes, Samaritans, Yazidi, Scandinavian Pagans etc.

Jews/Hebrews have existed for about 3 800 years at least and Judaism has developed over time. They have their belonging in Israel, even though the conflict between them, the Palestinians and the Muslim World is fierce. They must be allowed to continue existing though, just as all others. I will deal with that specific conflict again in yet another text soon. According to the Jews they are the by God Chosen people and have developed a belief system of different mitsvot/commandments and both the written Torah and an oral Torah. There are explanations and interpretations added to that, and also the Jewish mysticism Qabbala. Since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD today’s Rabbinic Judaism has developed, but today there are different fractions. There are the very devoted Hassidim and Haredim, there are orthodox Jews, liberal/reform Jews and seculars/Atheists who are Jews by blood and tradition, but not religious.

Jesus was a Jew and he was teaching other Jews around 30 AD when he as wandering carpenter, miracle-worker and preacher walked with his closest disciples through mainly Galilee, but also Samaria and Judea. Yeshua Bar Yosef/Jesus son of Joseph was a social reformer, teaching us humility, gender equality in a way, fairness and devotion. He was of humble origin, but a great man. He though critisized the overly show-off pious, and also taught his disciples that the sabbath was made for man, not the other way round. However Jesus, who was called the Messiah by his followers, was later imprisoned by the authorities and crucified in Jerusalem at Passover ca 30 or 33 AD. For Christians it’s important though to acknowledge him as the Saviour and that he will come back on the last day. The first Nazarenes/Christians were led by Jesus’ brother Jacob and Jesus’ followers were originally seen as an inter-Jewish sect.  Saul/Paulus first persecuted Christians, but later was converted into Christianity during a trip to Damascus in 35 AD and when he met Jesus’ brother Jacob and Simon Peter two years later they were upset by his ideas of spreading the faith to other people’s. At the first church meeting in Jerusalem in 49 AD though it was said that non-Jews should be allowed to become Christians. However in the year 90 AD there was a distinct break between the Christians and the Jews when the Christians no longer were welcomed in the synagogues. The Jewish Rabbi Robert Wolkoff in Gothenburg here in Sweden said about 20 years ago: “Jesus’ beliefs connect us, but the belief in Jesus separates us” about that schism. None the less, both creeds are important. In the year 60 AD the evangelist Mark went to Egypt and founded the first Christian church in Egypt, the Coptic Church and became their first bishop. The Copts in Egypt now though have a very difficult time because of new religious persecutions. I wrote about those persecutions a bit a couple of weeks ago.

Also the Syriac Christians today are persecuted, which also along the Egyptian Copts, and the Church of Ethiopia, are the earliest still existing churches on Earth. In the on-going Syrian civil war the Christian Syrians are fiercely persecuted. The last two years the persecution has intensified. The Syriac Christians have been accused of being loyal to the Assad régime, but also refused to participate in the rebellion. Because of the financial crises, persecutions, war and forced conversions to Islam tens of thousands of Christians have fled their ancestorial provinces of Deir Az-Zour and Hasakah. Ishow Goriye, Head of the Syriac Church recently said: “It breaks my heart to think how our long history is being uprooted”, mainly by radical jihadists and Al-Qaeda. The Syriac Christians have been forced to pay for the revolution, just as a mean to milk their resources. Bassam Ishaq, Christian member of the Syrian National Coalition has told how they have been asked menacingly after having been taken captives: “Why don’t you become a Muslim? Then you can be free.” The problem is that any conversion made under threat is a false conversion. It doesn’t come from inner conviction – through the heart and mind, so it’s not really valid. Have we Christians been angels through history? Absolutely not. We have behaved just as cruel and menacingly to people of other creeds. Through history, even today, Christians also have hated, persecuted and/or killed fellow-Christians belonging to a different church or with a more or less different interpretation of the theology. But that is also one of my points in this piece. Every religious and secular belief system can be used in a good and a bad way, for peace and love, acceptance and understanding, or to build high walls and to separate “us from them”, those who don’t live or think exactly as ourselves. The Muslims think that they follow the last and best religion, that the Jews and Christians had good prophets, but that Mohammed was the last and best one. There’s also Taqiya, a way to show one side of the belief outward, but work in secret for another agenda to save the faith. Islam CAN be a faith of peace, yes, when used in a good way by Muslims. Christianity CAN be a faith of peace, yes, when used in a good way by me and other fellow-Christians. Judaism CAN be a faith of peace, yes, when used in a good way by Jews. But that also can be applied to other belief systems too. Talk to a Sikh, or a Hindu, or a Jain, or a Yazid, to a Buddhist or to a Scandinavian Pagan. Talk to an atheist, to a socialist, to a communist, to a liberal, or to a conservative. In Pakistan Sunni Muslims persecute and kill thousands of Shia Muslims, and earlier today there were eight new killed in Jallalabad, Afghanistan. I have tried to through my contacts to contribute to an end on this mindless bloodshed, both within the same religions, between the religions and secular belief systems too. Within Islam there is also an intense struggle today between traditional, conservative Muslims, liberal Muslims, seculars, feminists both religious and non-religious/atheists.

The tensions between North and South Korea is problematic. In North Korea at least 200 000 North Koreans are internated in local concentration camps and Kim Jong Un leads a harsh rule. War-mongering is heard. That is a great tragedy since we only have one Earth to take care of and instead ought to focus on building the societies and try to be helpful and fair to each other, not tear things and our humanity down. Earlier today USA warned its citizens from travelling to North Africa and the Middle East, because of an imminent threat from Al-Qaeda about terrorist attacks. USA has today closed down 22 consulates until tomorrow. We MUST learn to accept the human variety. We MUST learn to respect the common value independent of creed and belief system. There is always someone who think slightly different than yourself. Why kill that person or group? Let’s learn from each other instead. When it comes to the Middle East, anthropologist Yossi Nager at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has noticed in his research that the Arabs, Palestinians and the Jews share the same genetic gene pool. They might have different religions and beliefs, but genetically they are the same people. Why not show that in unison instead? Why shouldn’t we all pay attention to our common human heritage deep down? Instead of fighting and killing each other and annihilate our human race, let’s find the bridges and “fight” the weather system instead. We only have this planet. We also have each other in a humanitarian brother- and sisterhood, if we think more wisely.

Anders Moberg, August 3d 2013.