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AZIZ

It wasn’t the noose, it was the bullet.

I looked around the flat for meaning. It was sparsely furnished, with only a couple of side chairs, a table and a sofa, three seat, blue in colour, with a warm yellow woollen blanket and a pillow on it, it served as his bed. Together it barely filled an otherwise empty space. A chair lie overturned in the middle of the floor next to the broken coffee table, oak, matching the parquet floor. The length of rope dangled ominously across the chair and table. On the floor I found two pictures in wooden frames. I had seen them before, Pictures of his beloved family. Aziz showed them to anyone who came to visit, but few ever came.

The day tried to peek its way in through the windows, casting what seemed a cruel light upon what lay on the floor. As I set the telephone back into the charger, I thought back to our conversations. They often revolved around his family. How his father had taught him to be a handyman, but also pushed him to become a doctor, and he did, a very good doctor in fact. His father told him that if a man is good with his hands, if he can find the patience to work well with wood, then he has the mindfulness to do anything. He had intended to pass that along to a son but was denied the chance.

Aziz never finished telling me what happened on August 27th, 2012, around noon. They knew about the fighting that had started but it hadn’t reached Damascus yet… The unrest in the poorer areas had grown and gross violence was becoming the norm. He told me the shelling started on the other side of the city at around 8:00 a.m. They started to grab what they could quickly. Aziz went downstairs to secure the transport when the mortar hit. His eyes filled with tears when he told me about his wife and two daughters, who did not survive, and all he could do was to wave me away, unable to say more.

In the ensuing days, he tried to use his considerable skills as a doctor to help the injured but realized he had to leave Damascus when a colleague of his was kidnapped by the fighters for a 100,000£ ransom. This is not an uncommon occurrence, he tells me. He left his office, his practice, everything behind for the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The camp had been established about a month earlier and was already overpopulated. Protests were held daily about the lack of food and accommodation. Not long after his arrival he met a man who claimed that for a substantial fee he could offer him passage to Europe.

Unable to put the loss of his family behind him, Aziz was hoping for a new life here. Raised in an upper class environment in Damascus, he had never been subjected to racial harassment before. His Muslim beliefs simply did not allow for such thought, he believed. The fact that he was still waiting for his immigration paperwork to finalize when he first heard the taunts didn’t help, he knew he couldn’t react in any way or risk being sent immediately back to Damascus, which would mean certain death. This once proud man became only a shadow of his jovial, funny, intelligent self. I often wondered what his life had been like earlier in Damascus, but now he rarely left his apartment.

One Tuesday, about a month ago, he ran across a flier on the bus seat advertising a rally in support of refugees from Syria, although he didn’t speak Swedish, he was able to understand the meaning. In a rare moment, he decided to attend. It was an October afternoon, a Sunday, when the rally was held at Medborgarplatsen here in Stockholm. About 350 showed up and speeches were made, in Swedish. Although Aziz couldn’t understand, it moved him to see this. Perhaps he was misjudging Sweden, perhaps it was the open minded country he had heard about after all. Then everything changed. A group of about 25 skinheads decided to show up. What started as shouting and fist waving soon turned very violent. Aziz tried to get away, but was stuck in the crowd. Bottles and rocks were being thrown and Aziz went into a panic. Visions of his homeland overcame his logic as he started to fight back. Grabbing a stick, he swung at two of the Nazis, hitting one, Ole, across the back. Ole turned and they stood almost face to face. Fortunately, the police arrived, Ole turned away to avoid another arrest, and Aziz ran to safety. Ole made a permanent memory of Aziz, however, vowing to revenge.

Aziz was devastated. I had no idea, until I read his notes, just how deeply his sorrow rooted itself. He told of the nights of darkness, nightly visions of the explosion and the loss of his family. The aloneness and isolation he felt here in Sweden made so much worse by the fracas with Ole. He had no way out. He couldn’t practice medicine. It would take seven years to become certified, and he felt completely trapped. He had decided to end it all.

The police arrived and the ambulance, no one could understand the noose around his neck or the bullet hole in the window. What was the connection?

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After giving the fascist Sweden Democrats an unprecedented and unbelievable 49 seats in Parliament, how could anyone expect the new  minority government to form an alliance?  Sweden prides it’s self on its open society. A society of acceptance and coexistence, an ability to get along at a level that I find almost unparalleled. The catch 22 is this very ability that has, in a sense, created this problem. The average swede abhors confrontation. They go to great lengths to avoid them. The Sweden Democrats know this and hope that it continues. They can’t exist in a society that is aware and active in the preservation of its rights.

What has happened over the last couple of days is that the new left-of-centre government has been unable to pass its budget. The swing vote in the parliament is held by, (guess who?) the fascists. The Sweden Democrats have refused to support any budget proposal that increases money for immigration. They want to “keep Sweden Swedish”. (A direct quote, btw) They have basically collapsed. A new vote is scheduled for March 22 next year. The former governing parties are chomping at the bit for a new vote hoping they can steal their way back to power. The fascist Sweden Democrats are hoping to become even bigger than the 3rd biggest party and the ruling government is hoping they stay in power, as do I.

The fascists have assumed an enormous amount of power in Sweden and it doesn’t seem to be diminishing. This is the confrontation that most Swedes have wanted to avoid. Gee, sorry. You can’t. If you truly have a conscience, if you want Sweden to remain truly Sweden, and not  a government ruled in some corporate back room, or some fascist misconception based on racism and the spread of hate, then you have no choice but to undo what should never have happened in the first place.

I’m quite sure I’ll be posting more on this so stay tuned!

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30306992

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Yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I want to recognize that, albeit a day late.
In a world where around 70 percent of all women experience physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime, women simply can not allow a step backwards in their march towards freedom and gender equality.They have to refuse it with every fiber of their being.  In the USA, women’s rights are in danger of being slowly replaced by a return to antique, patriarchal repressive denial. It saddens me deeply to think that in the US, those who would eliminate federal funding for childcare or prenatal and post natal care, or loans and grants for higher education for the poor are still being elected to high office, or even worse, almost being elected to the Oval Office.This empowers their continuing denial and inflames their desire for a return to repression. It was the women voters who re-elected  Obama, or rather perhaps, who refused to elect Romney. That should tell you something!
Men around the globe have to learn that their best interests are served by giving women not only true equality, instead of the false version now practised, but true positions of leadership, True empowerment. The ability and opportunity and positions within government to make and enforce policy actions and decisions.
Let us measure up as men. Freedom gained for one is more freedom gained for us all. Take a stand against violence towards women. Not just in the US or here in Sweden but everywhere. Read up on how you can help to stop oppression and gender related violence world-wide. It is happening not just in the third world, not just in extremist muslim countries but right next door to where you live, or perhaps even in your own house. To quote the brilliant Desmond Tutu, “I call on men and boys everywhere to take a stand against the mistreatment of girls and women. It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.”

This is a brilliant article by Desmond Tutu,, please read it!

http://www.theelders.org/article/let-us-measure-men

Read the message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/

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So, those who were once heroes of 9/11 are instead once again showing their true grit. Some 800 peaceful protesters, members of #occupywallstreet were effectively herded into a mass group on Brooklyn Bridge and arrested. NYCs finest has yet again proven Forrest Gump to be quite correct; “Stupid is as stupid does.” The thing that gets me in all of this is that the police in general, and it’s no different here in Sweden, really tell you they want your respect and really wish for you not to call them pigs, fascists, motherfuckers, ass kissers, idiots, and to smile as they arrest your family for doing absolutely nothing while their colleagues are buying drugs down the street and paying for it with prostitutes services. I see Al Pacino in the great film Dog Day Afternoon, the great scene where he sees the crowd and hollers “Attica, Attica Attica!” . In other words, dear reader there’s a pattern here and it ain’t plaid!  I think to myself “Gee, wouldn’t it be easier to get respect if they actually did manage to serve and protect?”

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Things I remembered today, September 11, 2001

 

Grandma and her sister Kate were raised in Brooklyn, I remembered this morning, of all mornings, that when I was young, we stayed for awhile with our grandparents. I was always sitting in grandmas house, either in grandpas lap, and then when I was too big, on the floor, (I’ve always loved sitting on the floor for some reason) probably watching tv, or playing with whatever was handy, or reading one of those wonderful books I had as a kid, but definitely NOT doing homework, haha, I have very fond memories of grandma and grandpa, sitting in the kitchen, probably playing cribbage, the smell of the coffee, always on, their voices filled my head with the past, and I also remembered when her sister Kate would come over, grandmas middle name was Myrtle, and  Kate, who fiercely held onto her strooooongggg Brooklyn accent, would come in, always thru the back door, “ooooo Moiiiiitlee, come and sit down, I’ve got so much to tell you!” . They would talk about things in Vernonia (the small town they lived in) , but always it seems to me they’d always talk about Brooklyn too, so it came to pass that somehow, N.Y. has always been a part of my conscience, from hearing them remembering, from hearing about how grandpa came over on the boat from Sweden, thru liberty island, as most immigrants did back then, through to the west coast, so I guess it’s no wonder that I get along with New Yorkers the way I do, because I sort of feel, in one way or another that I understand, at least a little, about them, from my own family, anyways,, say a prayer for the families today, and I’ll send one your way too, love you all much, Dan

 

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