About a week ago, a religious extremist blew himself up on a busy street in Stockholm. It was the first terror-labled crime we've had in Sweden, and of course a lot.. a LOT.. has been said about it the past week. Today, I found this text from Jonas Hassen Khemiri, a Swedish author. And it sums up how I feel about it all. So, I took the liberty to translate it. His writing is hard to translate, and I most likely lost a lot of his flow and finer points, but I think it's still decently representative. And I wanted to share, because I think it's relevant no matter where in the world you are.
I call my brothers and I say: The sickest thing happened last night. Did you hear? One man, one car, two explosions, right down town.
I call my brothers and say: No, no-one died. Or. One died. He died. He who aren't our brother. But sure. Some people will try to connect him to us. His name, his heritage, his hair-colour. Close enough (or not close at all)
I call my brothers and say: Watch out. Lay low a few days. Lock your door. Pull your curtains. And if you need to go out, leave your keffiyeh at home. Don't carry any suspicious bags. Turn up the volume in your headphones, so you won't hear peoples comments. Close your eyes to get away from peoples looks. Whisper in the subway, don't laugh too loud at the cinema. Blend in, make yourselves invisible, turn yourselves into gas. Don't attract any-ones, and I mean any-ones, attention.
I call my brothers and I say: Forget what I said. Fuck silence. Fuck invisibility. Get down town wearing nothing but Christmas lights. Put on neon overalls, orange tutu's. Whistle in whistles. Shout holes into megaphones. Occupy whole blocks, take over the gallerias. Make yourselves as visible as possible until they understand there is a counter force. Tattoo "Politically Correct For Life" in black Gothic letters on your stomachs. Defend all idiots rights to be idiots until you loose your voices. Until you die. Until they understand that we're not them they think we are.
I call my brothers and say: By the way. What "them"?" There is no "them". There is however extremists on all sides trying to convince us there is a "them". A dangerous and threatening "them". Don't trust anyone who talks about "them" Everyone who talks about "them" are idiots. Especially the ones who claim there is a war. There is no war, hear me? There is no war.
I call my brothers and I say: Okey. There is a war. There are several wars. But not war in the way they claim. The war is about our minds. The war is about our fear. And when fear claims us, air-planes turn into missiles and bags into bombs. Mobile phones becomes remote controls, mashed food for kids, plastic explosives. All liquid becomes potentially explosive. All men with black beards become potential bomb men. All blonde men become potential gun men. And when fear grabs us, we start to fear the future and long for yesterday. We start wishing we could turn back time, it was so much better then, when men were men and women were women and no-one was homosexual. When we had faxes instead of internet and a pole of shame instead of a courts. With nostalgic looks on our faces, we remember village societies and corporal punishment. Things were so much simpler then. When the borders were clear and the enemy had one (and only one) face. But all are not scared. We won't let it scare us, we walk with proud faces into a future of dissolved borders, with a firm knowledge that time can never be turned back. We are not afraid. We are not afraid.
I call my brothers and I whisper: Okey. I admit. I am scared. I am scared to death. I'm scared because men who are shooting parents through apartment windows in Malmö is described as lone madmen and not as a part of a larger extreme right wing network. I'm scared because no-one remembers racists who light fire to the apartments of anti-racist families in Högdalen. I'm scared of Nazis in Salem and Islamists on Drottinggatan and fascists in our parliament. But most of all I'm scared because history seems to be repeating itself all the time, because we never seem to learn, because all the signs are pointing to the conclusion that our cowardice and fear of the so called different is so deeply rooted we'll never conquer it.
I call my brothers and say: Something so strange happened tonight. I got on the subway and saw this very suspicious man. He had black hair and an unusually large backpack and his face was covered by a keffiyeh.
I call my brothers and say: It took me a fraction of a second, before I realised it was the mirror image of me in the glass.
Jonas Hassen Khemiri 2010
Original text: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=438&artikel=4248447