Human kind is not always kind. Many times the contrary. The young man in this photo above is Ali Reza, a Hazar from Afghanistan. Ali has come to Sweden as a single refugee child/youngster after having been persecuted, harrassed and badly treated in his home country Afghanistan. Since he belongs to an ancient aboriginal minority group in that region, the Hazars, Ali and his kindred have been treated as vermin and persecuted. Ali Reza left on a stressful, harsh and dangerous journey through Asia and Europe. Being a refugee is not a simple thing, and he experienced many traumas on his journey here. Many refugees suffered greatly, were beaten, became ill, didn’t get treatment, were abused and tricked on money, used as slaves and prostitutes. Many refugees are left to die, maltreated, die from cold, diseases, are beaten to death or commit suicide from pure agony. In Turkey the police took Ali’s cellphone, and he was arrested. Eventually – after 21 000 miles- he ended up in Sweden, and he says that Sweden is the best country in the world. Here he has found people who have tried to understand and help him, who have listened to his story and treated him with respect. No man is an island, entire of itself. Here in Sweden Ali Reza came in contact with the organization Sweden’s Lone Refugee Youth Organization and has become an appreciated member. In the summer of 2013 he and many others participated in a march on foot from Malmö in south-west Sweden to the capital city Stockholm in the east, a little more than 600 kilometres away. That march was called The Asylum Relay Race 2013 and a new march was held this summer, this time to the annual Alm Valley Week on the island of Gotland when the politicians, journalists and businessmen visited the place. I saw the beginning of that march through my apartment window, and have sent greetings to the participants.
Being human is no easy matter, prejudiced ideas and hatred, group narcissism and individual narcissism too quite often become obstacles on the way. It has been like that ever since our first human ancestors trod the East African soil 200 000 years ago and before. On this weblog I have dealt with this subject on many occassions in various ways. Read for example
Our human behaviour, both the cruelty, the competative nature, our cunning, but also affection, helpfulness and kindness are two sides of the same coin. To feel a certain group belonging is natural, and as human creatures we tend to keep approximately 2000 -2500 people in our memory, since that is about the size of the larger clans from the olden days. Our humanity has grown since the stone-age and now many groups, nations and ideologies stand against each other.
The problems will increase, never doubt that, the competition and the polarization. But within this humanity kindness, affection will also be important for the very survival of our human species. In every human being there are many traits combatting. We must be kind and helpful for our individual and group survival, but also harsh and sometimes violent in order to defend ourselves and our off-spring. The question is how and where we define our limits individually and as a group. The conflicts today tend to be based as much on group-belonging as on ideology, but also on other people’s perception of how they THINK we are, many times exaggerated and misinterpreted, other times fairly well percieved.
In the world today there are many conflicts and wars going on, Mali, Afghanistan, the clan wars in Libya after the downfall of Muammar Al-Qadhaffi in 2011. The Syrian civil war where many thousands have been killed. In present day Iraq the wars also continue. Now Iraq has two Prime Ministers, Nuri al-Maliki who has been on the post since 2006 and now also Haider Al-Abadi. The Arab League and Saudi Arabia have turned their backs on al-Maliki, and the Islamic, but not Arab country of Iran has supported the introduction of the new Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. Nuri al-Maliki though refuses to step down. In Iraq and Syria the Jihadists within the IS, the Islamic State continue their slaughter and persecution of non-Muslims, of Yazidi and of Christians and other Muslims. The idea is to implement a strict Islamic Caliphate in first Iraq and Syria, then the Levant, after that southern Europe, then…The Christians in the region are almost entirely wiped out. The Jihadists have painted the Arabic letter “Nun” for “Nasara” on the homes of Christians in Iraq and Syria, but also the Christians in Egypt, on the West-Bank, in different African countries are persecuted, Churches destroyed. The Jihadists have given Christians three choices: pay the punishing tax for non-Muslims called Jizya, convert to Islam or be executed. Captives have been taken, men been crucified, shot or beheaded, while women mainly have been taken or sold as sex slaves or forced to conversion, or killed. The Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers though in co-operation with PKK and the YPG oppose the Islamic State Jihadists and fight back, since the Kurds are seen as less worthy and as enemies by the Jihadists. Right now Yazidis have taken refuge to the mountain of Sinjar in Iraq, since at least 300 of their women have been taken captives by the IS forces and sold as sex slaves, many men killed, but aid has been sent from the USA, France and the United Kingdom to save refugees or at least give them water bottles. Here you some of the latest events:
Recently an IS-sympathizer in Sweden calling himself Sheykh Ahmed expressed his thoughts on the TV-station Al-Hayat in the Arab world. It was hosted by Rashid Hmami, a Moroccan former Muslim, now Christian. It has been noted and spread on social media and the other day another blogger Torbjörn Jerlerup wrote this article on the subject
Does this mean that every Muslim is a terrorist or a potential terrorist? Of course not. There are as many differences on an individual level as within any other group. Extremism and radicalization though is always dangerous, irrespective of skin colour, ideology, religion or ethnic background. Among the three Abrahamitic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam Judaism is the oldest and not at all missionary, which the two younger religions are, in different ways.
Every religion and secular ideology has good aspects and rules for behaviour, family life, good behaviour, respect, decency and self-respect for their own believers. Most people within a group, any group, are good, decent folk and it’s wrong to accuse anyone or hate anyone for being born into a certain culture, with a certain skin- or hair colour, being born into a certain religion or social group. We can’t help being who we are, and love is always preferable from hate. Respect and self respect is of the essence. The word “respect” by the way is Latin and means “Looking back”/”Paying attention to the other”. Trying to appreciate or at least show some kind of understanding for the other person or phenomenon. In the best situations also admiration and love. The ideologies however vary, and sometimes a lot.
Hatred of foreigners and different society groups is a major problem today. Here in Sweden we see Islamophobic hate crimes, burnt mosques, Muslims attacked both women and men, veils torn off and foul words shouted. Anti-Christian hate-crimes: people who show that they are Christians are attacked by people of other faiths or atheists. Anti-Gay and Anti-Lesbian hate crimes. Mainly people on the far right wing, and also strictly religious people from various groups are here often the culprits. Afrophobic hate crimes. People of African descent are being attacked, persecuted, hated, beaten up and sometimes killed or almost killed. The attackers are often people from the extreme right and Neo-Nazi movements. “Vit makt – Negerslakt” /White power – Nigger slaughter” is one of their foul slogans. Antiziganism, hate crimes against people of Romany background. Romany people are being persecuted all over Europe and often outcasts from the society. Romany people have been in Sweden since 1514, and is also one of Sweden’s five officially protected minority groups according to Swedish law since 1999, even though it’s difficult to believe sometimes, considering their status and the treatment of them. Some improvements have been made though in later years. On July 3d 2014 a Swedish delegation was in the death camp of Auschwitz to honour the memory of the captivated and executed Romany prisoners during World War II 1939-1945. On August 2d this year a ceremony was held here in Malmo to commemorate the horrendous “Gypsy Night” in Auschwitz when many Romany prisoners were killed by the Nazis.
As it is now however the Antisemitic hate crimes are among the most luring and wide-spread. The Jews have been in Sweden since the 1700’s and is also one of Sweden’s five protected minority groups under law, but that too is hard to believe. The most aggressive haters and culprits here are Neo-Nazis, people within the left-wing movements: Communists, Environment Party Members, some Social Democrats along with Muslims. The anti-Semitism is fierce, sweeping, deep and with a wish of total annihilation of all Jews. Adolf Hitler is mentioned as a hero and global genocide is preferred. Even if many of these people say that they are anti-racists, that must be taken as extremely partial. On July 31st the Malmö synagogue was vandalized for the third time this year and two days later, on Saturday August the 2d the Rabbi Shneur Kesselman was attacked twice in the evening together with another member of the congregation. The following day a spontanous kippa walk was arranged via Facebook in protest of the hate crimes. I participated for the third time and we were a little more than 100 people who joined this walk. During these kippa-walks with both Jews and non-Jews walking through town together with the male Jewish hat, the kippa, there are no loud protests, no large signs and no hatred. It’s simply a silent protest for the right to be who you are without being attacked.
Both the Arabs and the Jews belong in the Middle East. It has also been proven scientifically a few years ago that according to their mitocondrial DNA they are originally the same people, even if they separated ca 4000 years ago. Clan division, life styles and religion has seperated them during the millennia and they fight over this region in constant blood-shed. Israel today is biased, the Israeli treatment of the local Palestinians are hard, rough and often disdainful, a wall was built some years ago and very religious Jews have settled on various areas in Yehuda/Shomron. i.e. the West bank. The Gaza strip was left by the IDF in 2005, but Israel has continued to be constantly under attack with rockets from the Gaza strip, Syria or Lebanon . The country’s hospitals as well as Magen David Adom also gives medical help to Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze alike. They also give medical help to the victims in the Syrian civil war between different Muslim fractions. Israel is a democracy where both Jews, Christian and Muslim Arabs, Samarians and Druze contribute, have the right to vote, have seats in the Knesset, and enroll in the army. Egyptian leaders now accuse Hamas of being the most guilty part for the present war on the Gaza strip. It has been said that Israel is an apartheid country. It is harshly divided, and Palestinians are harshly treated, but it’s not an apartheid state like South Africa once was. Israel in modern days was founded in 1948, which the Palestinian Arabs refer to as An-Naqba, the Disaster. Palestinian Arabs were driven from their homes locally, and Jews were driven from their homes in Arab countries. An immense suffering on both sides of the conflict. All the same the Jews belong in the region, Israel was and is their homeland, and Jerusalem is and always has been their holy city. During the long exile the phrase “Next year in Jerusalem”/Bashaná ha-baa birushalayim” was always said. The conflict about Gaza is now fuel for the old and foul antisemitism that spreads like a disease around the world. The Arabs and other Muslims want to annihilate all Jews from the face of the earth, kill EVERYONE around the globe, and wipe out the state of Israel.
Right wing hate groups, Neo Nazis and extreme nationalists are also a grave danger. We see this radicalization grow, and extremists of all sorts, nations, religions and secular ideologies find fuel from each other in many countries. Extreme nationalism instead of more sensible forms of the same thing tend to grow right now. However sense and sensibility in humanity, moderation and wisdom still has a chance. Expansion, narcissistic forms of nationalism, antifeminism, misogyny, hatred of foreigners are common notions among the radical groups. Neo-Nazis, extreme right wings, certain Muslims, extreme left-wings and other radical forms are very similar to each other. They might hate each other, but they are often very similar in many values and perceptions. Exchanging one oppressor for another isn’t perhaps the best choice though. In the end it will lead to the self-annahilation of humanity as a whole as we know it if we aren’t careful….We decide the future.
The Swedish EU-minister Birgitta Ohlsson is very much opposing these kinds of groups. “Different kinds of brown” as she sometimes is calling them. I had the honour to listen to her last weekend in Helsingborg. Also our Minister of Integration Erik Ullenhag is working seriously with these issues. They both belong to the People’s Party the Liberals/Folkpartiet Liberalerna.
Yesterday there was a protest meeting at the Mill Field Square/Möllevångstorget here in Malmö. Yazidi people mainly held a protest meeting against the IS, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and their persecution of Yazidi people who originate from that area. IS sympathisers in Malmö had called some of the Iraqis and threatened them not to go to this protest meeting, but ca 300 people showed up on the square. Kurdish people, (among them Yazidi), some Iranians and Iraqi Christians entered Möllevångstorget. A quarrel broke out among the participants about which flag that should be most prominent. The Kurdish flag or the Iraqi one. Someone also had brought the American Stars and Stripes. Police cars arrived to the square and the rest of the demonstration had to be cancelled.
Being human is no easy matter and human kind is not always kind. What we never ever must forget though is that we ALL belong to the same human race with a shared common ancestry way back in time. We all have ONE Tellus, one Terra Firma, ONE Earth to inhabit and share. Will we do that or kill each other and the Earth? Will we learn to be fellow human beings instead of contra human beings?