& Democracy - English version of the editorial

This is an English version of the editorial published in "& Demokrati".

I see the picture of the kick. A man dressed in a suit and tie is kicking a person being held to the ground by two soldiers. The man who is putting the boot in is an advisor to the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and the man being attacked was demonstrating against how the Turkish government acted in regard to the mining disaster that craved three hundred and one lives in Soma. The picture was streamed out in the media and has aroused strong reactions. Turkey has applied for membership in the European Union, but there are doubts concerning how the government protects human rights in the country. The photograph of the kicking incident is part of a bigger picture. It depicts is an incident that happened in a fleeting moment. But it can also, on a deeper level, epitomize a state of affairs to be found in many places and in many situations. A  violent kick aimed at someone who is already down, someone who has been forced to the ground and prevented from raising her(him)self up.

Racist parties won more seats in the European Parliamentary elections than all the Swedish parties put together. In Greece such parties don’t even bother to hide their ideological origins behind suits, ties and using the word ”Democrats” in their party’s name, but rather march openly on the streets with boots, uniforms and swastika-like emblems on their flags. I feel my stomach turn. I didn’t believe that such things could happen or didn’t want to believe that they could happen, I mislead myself. Economic crises in Europe. Unemployment. Human beings being pitched against each other. White against black. Us against them. Fear. Segregation. The dream of a better life/prosperity. Who wants their grandmother to get run over. {Reference to an earlier *Swedish Democrats’ election campaign advertisement} Who wants the Taliban to outlaw music after a magical evening listening to Håkan Hellström {a popular Swedish singer}.

Fear makes us turn inwards, lock the doors and close our borders. Save Sweden! Fear turns to contempt, hate, violence. But there are also other movements/directions that infuse hope. Two women who train a football team for orphaned refugees, boys that have fled from wars in Somalia, Syria, Iraq and ended up here in Sweden. They train at the football pitch in Majvallen - Håkan Hellström-land. Slottskogen’s park. Spring and dreams. ”And in the Azalea groove it is impossible not to fall in love”. Mohammad from Mogadisu kicks the ball and most surely dreams, he too, about love and of belonging somewhere.

We should be more worried and afraid than we are. We should be more angry and engaged than we are. Pictures of people fleeing for their lives and dying in overcrowded boats. Being caged like wild animals in prison-like complexes in Malta and Cyprus. Romani people that have been hounded from Hungary, who sit now and beg outside our local supermarket. Posters from the Swedish Democrats on the underground saying that begging should be outlawed, poverty should be prohibited, the poor should be outlawed. The black. The handicapped. The unemployed. The homosexual. Muslims. Exterminated. Destroyed. But we begin with the beggars and make demands. We can make a start there. It’s a reasonable request, that many believe to be rational and good. To put expectations on those who beg. Then we put them in line. Then we ship them off. And in a place where nobody hears or sees we shoot them. Then it will be peaceful and clean on our streets. Yes, we can start there. We start there. They began just so.

We are doing a magazine about democracy. A Greek word meaning ”rule of the people”. In a democracy the majority decides and there is a correctness in that. But democracy also embodies how we treat and protect minorities, how individuals at risk are cared for and supported by the common/society. Democracy must protect and guard our human dignity. The church has the same responsibility, the same moral duty.

That is why democracy is not merely a method to gain political power, but is also a guardian of basic human values in how we treat/see our fellow man(woman). Racism and fascism, in whatever guise, no matter how well-dressed, no matter what religious hat or beard it sports, are always anti-democratic and misanthropic/an aggression against humanity. Those mad Islamists that murder and hunt people from Syria and Iraq. Boko Harem in Nigeria. Israel’s anti-apartheid politics and killing in Gaza. Anti-Semitism that is being exercised against Jewish people in Europe anew. Political violence from both right and left wing, seeking to force us into silence and to make us afraid. Those dressed in black with their faces covered. Racist and Fascists that have come out of the closet, with new fine suits and ties but with the same hate and contempt.  

Christian belief is at all times a movement in support of humanity. God became human, in solidarity and struggle to support threatened life. We have to make a stand. Life is being threatened at this very moment. Today we choose (vote).
{political elections taking place in Sweden 14/9}
Tomorrow may be too late.  

Pontus Bäckström  

* The Swedish Democrats or Sweden Democrats (Swedish: Sverige-demokraterna, SD) are a far-right, right-wing populist, and anti-immigration political party in Sweden that was founded in 1988.