Stop Afrophobia!




Ten days ago, the Sunday September 8th, a 32 year old immigrant from Gambia, Yusupha Salah and his 1,5 year old son Junos were out walking in the Malmoe suburb of Kroksbäck. Yusupha lives there since nine months ago with his Danish wife. Then suddenly when he was walking across a bridge in the area, five metres above a highly trafficked road, he and his son were attacked by a group of men.  Ten men altogether joined the attack. They shouted: “Beat it you bloody blacky”. “Take your son and leave, otherwise we’ll kill you both”.  Then they began beating Yusupha infront of his little son, and also tried to put him over the bridge. Many people saw the incident, but didn’t dare to intervene. After a while the police came to the spot, and the man was saved. He had been hanging by the side of the bridge above the cars below, but had managed to hold on. The police put this in the category “hate crime” and “physical abuse”. Malcolm Jallow Momodou from the Afro-Swede’s Forum for Justice/Afrosvenskarnas Forum för Rättvisa said that the police has a tendency to diminish the Afrophobic and racist crimes. He also said that if an ordinary Swede had been attacked in a similar way it had been called what it really was: attempted murder. On Saturday September 14th at four o’ clock people had gathered at Möllevångstorget/The Mill Field Square to protest against the attack, but also against Afrophobia and general racism. The slogan was “Stop Afrophobia Now!”.

Several speakers had been invited to participate in this manifestation, and bit by bit the Mill-Field Square was filled with people who wanted to show their suppport. The manifestation “Stop Afrophobia Now!” was held simultanously at Möllevångstorget in Malmoe, in Stockholm and Gothenburg/Göteborg. The first speaker for the day was the rapper, lecturer and hip hop artist Behrang Miri who came to Sweden from Iran as a child. He’s also involved in many anti-racist movements, including Afrosvenskarnas Forum för Rättvisa. He said that we all must show our disgust for the Afrophobic attacks, and the structural racism we see in society. Jallow Momodou also said that Afro-Swedes experience this racism and exclusion every day, even if the physical attacks doesn’t happen every day. Jallow demanded that the government and Swedish authorities must take the demeaning attitudes against Africans and the Afrophobia seriously. He want them to put in money for the work against the Afrophobia in society. When the statistics from Brå came of last years hate crimes in the Swedish society it showed that in 2012 there had been 3980 reports to the police which then had been labelled “hate crimes”, i.e. when someone is verbally and/or physically attacked because of his or her skin-colour, ethnicity, religion or sexual bent. Of these 3980 reports 940 had had Afro-phobic motives. That was the biggest group. Then there had been 710 homophobic reported hate crimes, 310 Islamophobic, 220 Anti-Semitic crimes against Jews, (most of them here in Malmoe), and 200 Christian-phobic. Then there were others as well, which numbered 20-40 each. This is nothing new, and we see a similar tendency every year. All who were present at Möllevångstorget agreed that every hate crime was one too many. Jallow Momodou also told us about the worrying situation for Africans in different European countries. He told us about two cases in Germany and Austria where the local police had arrested a couple of African men, based mostly on their looks, beaten and mistreated them in jail and there had them killed in gruesome ways. Not long ago another African immigrant had been beaten up and abused by local Malmoe police, which I wrote about in a text in late May. Everyone who knows me also know that I have respect for the police in many ways, but also is critical to certain values and behaviours that do exist, and this is one. That kind of racism is utterly unacceptable. Then again, I’m white, and does not have to live the experience of being attacked for my skin-colour.

The next speaker was Hanna Thomé from the Left Party. She was among the many speakers who pinpointed the importance of protesting against the horrendous Afrophobia. Leandro Mulinari, a young man who’s active in Asylstaffetten told us about an experience when he had taken a sauna with some middle-aged Swedish men at Ribbersborg and had heard them discuss in a racist and diminishing way about all the immigrants in town. That had made him so angry that he protested.

All the speakers had important things to say, and there were 12 speakers all together. Anders Thörnblad from the Environment Party the Green was the next one, followed by the young woman Birgitt Vega from InterFem. She pinpointed the importance of acting against this racism, and for gender equality as well. Mujo Halilovic leader from Romskt Informations- och Kunskapscenter, Romany Information and Knowledge Centre shared with us his views. The Romanies in town and in society in general are often excluded and met with spite. Jallow Momodou told us about a conference which will be held at Malmoe University in October. It’s about the African slave-trade in the 1600’s up to the 1800’s and also its legacy. Here in Sweden the slave trade was forbidden by law in 1847. Behrang Miri also said that a new platform for intercultural and inter-religious work is shaped. Andreas Schönström from the Social Democrats and responsible for the labour market held his speech and he too said that the work against racism never must die, and that Malmoe Municipality works hard in different ways to oppose it.

A  young woman in hijab/veil listening to the name of Amra was the next speaker. She took her place on the foot of the statue Arbetets Söner/The Sons of Labour and gave us her view. Since she also represented Malmoe’s Young Muslims, she also included islamic aspects on the topic. The leader of the Left Party, Daniel Sestrajcic, held a long fiery speech, where he pinpointed the gap between people and the social classes as well as the racism. He was followed by Anja Sonesson from the Moderate Party/The Conservatives, and her speech was quite short and showing on their party work against racism. Filip Wallander, who’s a teacher and scientist at Malmoe University in social work and also representing the network Ett Enat Malmoe/A United Malmoe said that compared to Kalmar where he’s also been active in his research-work Malmoe is much more aware, and active to do something against the problems in society.

A choir consisting mainly of middle-aged Swedish women came and sang beautiful songs from Africa for us, and the atmosphere on the square grew. An old human rights activist and Afro-American, Madebuku Diakate, from New York, USA, was the last speaker. He had been active in the US civil rights movement early on, and to honour that he wore a barett, showing his allegiance to the Black Panthers. Since he came to Sweden many years ago he has been acting as a mentor and nestor for many of the younger civil rights activists and it was very clear that he was respected and revered by many there. A call that echoed on several occassions at Möllevångstorget this last Saturday was “What shall we do? Stop the Afrophobia!! When? Now Now Now!”. However, it must not just be a chant or a nice slogan or a goal on a political charter, but be implemented and followed by real action. The following day, on this last Sunday, this manifestation was followed by a new against racism and Afrophobia. The demonstrators then, (900 of them), walked from Möllevångstorget and into the central parts, showing their stand. As I walked down to Södervärn/The Southern Defence  to take the bus home at half past six that Saturday evening I had a good feeling in my stomach. If we all do something to improve the attitudes in society, work for both ourselves and for others, we have done something good in life.

Anders Moberg, September 18th 2013

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