It is my pleasure to welcome half of another writing pair - Anders Roslund of Roslund and Hellström fame - part of the great Scandinavian mystery writers community. My first introduction to them was via Three Seconds, which I must have recommended to dozens of people.
They have written six books together, and the fact that their names are in about 200 point on the covers and the titles in 20 point says something about their success. The books are Two Soldiers, Three Seconds, The Girl Below the Street, Cell 8, Box 21, and The Beast.
They have had great success in finding foreign publishers, and I lost count trying to determine in how many countries Three Seconds has been or will be published. The same goes for awards - too many to count, including the Crime Writers Association's Best International Novel for Three Seconds.
What he writes about today will strike an unpleasant but familiar chord. Please welcome Anders Roslund.
So, it happens again. A town in flames. A nation changes complexion. A democracy looks for a new direction.
It started in 1991. August; a quiet Stockholm summer evening. The silence is shattered: a man is shot and wounded. For another six months the whole of Swedish society is wounded; fear becomes a part of all of us. One person dies, and others damaged for life. Slowly a pattern emerges: a Swedish citizen who shot with a rifle and laser sights at victims who all had something in common – darker skin, dark hair, or an immigrant background.
|John Ansonius - The Laser Man|
I was then the chief reporter for Swedish televison on the story, which was the biggest police operation and trial that Sweden had seen since the 1986 assassination of the prime minister Olof Palme. I reported from the first shots till the last day of the trial. I saw Sweden changed: Nazi flags were raised; there were riots between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators; young people found their way into extreme groups. And out of that time an anti-immigrant party emerged – called New Democracy – which a few months later gained a popular vote and entered Sweden's parliament.
As a journalist I continued to cover the growth of rightwing extremism and xenophobia in Sweden. Just like my fellow journalist and author Stieg Larsson, death threats were made against me, and I lived in hiding with armed bodyguards.
A few years later, democracy and openness had pushed back the fear of foreignness. We could once more be proud of our Sweden.
Until it happened again – but this time the other way around.
This time the new anti-immigrant party, the Sweden Democrats, were formed first. During the election campaign they focused on one issue and were voted into the Swedish parliament. Xenophobia became established. And during the same period we saw it happening again, now in Malmö, Sweden's third largest city, situated a long way south, close to the continent, and with a high proportion of immigrants, who were targeted by a racially motivated gunman. Again and again.
|The innocuous symbol of the Sweden Party|
|Sweden Party poster - Keep Sweden Swedish!|
Two decades ago it was an isolated unhinged gunman who foreshadowed the political facts. This time it was hand in hand with a democratically elected parliament.
Malmö had already had dozens of shooting incidents before this happened. The city had developed a gang culture – a large number of criminal groups and networks – which had for years brutally exposed its social divisions. Even before the attacks happened policies on integration had been a disaster.
Gang related murders in Stockholm and a burning war in the suburbs all summer, shootings, hand grenade explosions and fights between the police and gangs in Malmö, the fiftieth shooting in a short time in Gothenburg, several gang shootings every week in small towns as Eskilstuna, Norrköping, Gävle ... the currents in society that we have struggled against for so long is gaining new strength, new strongholds, new legitimacy. It was a long time ago since Sweden lost its position as the role model of a functional society.
Anders - Sunday