Nazi demonstration not to dissuade Gothenburgers from attending book fair

By Sarah Oulahna

Critics immediately washed over after the announcement of the authorization by the police of the Nazi movement’s NMR demonstration at the same time and place as the Gothenburg annual book fair. However this situation does not seem to slow down the regulars.

Svensk Massa, the Swedish exhibition centre of Gothenburg

This Thursday the police officially authorised the NMR (Nordiska Motståndsrörelsen), a nazi groupuscule, to march through the city centre of Gothenburg. The demonstration is supposed to take place on September 30 and start at the Swedish exhibition centre, Svenska Mässan. The polemic rose because at that very same date, Svenska Mässan hosts the annual book fair which attracts thousands of people from all over the country. Concerns have been uttered by critics and politicians on the ethics of allowing such a demonstration as well as regarding the security of the book fair.

The other possible issue is a drop in the attendance figures of the fair as the nazi march may dissuade some people from going. This is not an option for Hedvig Wallin, 24, who declares that she would never miss it : “Sure I do find it unpleasant because it is no place for such a demonstration. But I am going to attend the book fair anyway because I go every year and I feel safer knowing that they [the event organisers] have increased security.”

Indeed, talking to Göteborgs Posten, Maria Källsson, responsible for the book fair, set out to reassure the visitors, announcing that the security means would be increased during the event. That was not enough to convince Gunilla Ericson, 69, to visit the fair on the 30th : “ I am used to attend every year but when I heard about the manifestation I decided to stay away from the fair. At least on that day. Violence can spread out so quickly, I would rather stay completely out of the city centre on that day.” The book fair lasts for 4 days and usually welcomes around 100 000 visitors a year, it will take place from September 28 until October 1st 2017.

 

 

 

Dogs Are The New Kids

by Marta, Mia & Veronika

 

owner with dog in park

“She’s my baby” – Ebba, 23

As Sweden’s birth rate decreases, the pet industry is growing at full tilt. From veterinary care and pet insurances to doggy daycares and fancy dog spas, Swedes are spending more money than ever on their pooches.

With seven out of ten dogs living in children-free households, Swedes seem to be choosing dogs over having babies. Are dogs slowly becoming a substitute for children?

As we were walking through the streets of Gothenburg it was not difficult to find people accompanied by a four-legged, furry friend happily walking beside them, and, even, being pushed around in a stroller.

Clas, a 58-year-old professor admits to having a dog instead of a child. He wholeheartedly believes that a dog can be a substitute for a kid, and shares with us that a lot of his friends feel the same way. “There’s only positive things associated with having a dog”, says Clas. “It’s a different kind of responsibility to have kids; having a dog is easier and more rewarding.”

Dogs play such an important role in people’s lives that the majority of the interviewees answered that it would be a deal-breaker if a prospective partner did not like their dogs. “If you don’t like my dog, you don’t like me.” says 24-year-old zookeeper Hannah.

But how differently do people who have both children and dogs see their relationship to their dogs compared to their relationship with children?

Jenny, 46, sees no difference. Her dog Fiffi is “on the same level” as her kids, she says. Her four-legged child is an important member of the family like any of her two biological children. Fiffi always tags along in family activities and even goes to work with Jenny at her cafe. “If you can’t have a child, a dog would absolutely be a good replacement”, adds Jenny.

73-year-old Gertie agrees, adding that a lot of her friends are single and have dogs instead of children.

Whether they send their pooches to doggy daycare, hire a dog sitter, or bring them to the office like 23-year-old real estate agent Ebba, these dog owners all share the same opinion that dogs are not just pets, they are family members.

Peter, 53, and Kimo, 50, however, do not feel like their four-legged family members are a substitute for children “My dog is family, but dogs cannot be a substitute for children”, says Peter, a father of two.

One thing is certain; the dog  population is growing at a rapid speed in Swedish households, and dogs are a big part of people’s social lives – ask any of these dog owners how they feel about dating someone who doesn’t like dogs and you will be met with a disapproving laugh.

Anti-terrorist plans for the streets of Gothenburg

Haga and Gothenburg University are two places often visited by a lot of people. Here you will find an international crowd, always aware of the international problem of terrorism. This problem is especially visible in light of the recent terror attacks around Europe.  With this in mind, the municipality of Gothenburg is now discussing precautions and reinforcements to make the streets of the city safe. There is talk of fences and restrictions in the city center, as well as to put in more patrolling police officers. The terrorism threat may seem far from Sweden and Gothenburg, but do people feel safe? And would reinforcements such as these actually help us feel safer?

 

By Amalia Genell & Mara Stam

 

To Yvonne, 73, the terrorism threat is very present. “I am always afraid, but I can’t let that determine my choices and habits. ”That will get me nowhere,” she says. She keeps updated with the news of terrorism in Sweden as well as in Europe, and she believes we should be careful but not judgmental towards other people.

”I believe you have to update your general attitude and viewpoint as times change. Instead of being scared and suspicious towards everybody, you should strive to be open-minded and respond to these changes in an appropriate way.” That is exactly the question discussed by the municipality, how to respond to prevent terrorist attacks. Should there be traffic barriers around Kungsgatan to complicate an attack like we have seen in Barcelona and Stockholm? Should pedestrians be more protected?

Political science student Beatrice, 22, says she feels safer in Sweden than in Romania, her home country, and Eastern Europe in general. She thinks that reinforcements such as barriers and patrolling police would be a useful tool against bigger terrorist groups, and that it would make people feel safer. On the other hand, she doesn’t see that street barriers (or police officers for that matter) would be effective in actually preventing attacks from individual terrorists. “If they mean harm, they will find a way to do harm.”

The question and threat of terrorism has grown into a big problem in Europe over the last decade, but at the same time people here in Gothenburg seem to feel the threat is still far away. Is this why people question the proposition of reinforcements in the streets of Gothenburg?

“We should not let fear take over,” says Yvonne. “If you do, you might as well sit in a room and wait for the worst to happen.” Ulla 77, who works in an antique shop in Haga, agrees, but still feels cautious about going to crowded places in the city. “I would feel safer if there were more visible reinforcements against terrorism, but I am skeptical if it would actually help.”

A boost in police presence wanted?

An historical investment in police agency. But is it necessary? We asked the people of Gothenburg.

In accordance with a recent plan presented by the Swedish government, the police agency will see a significant increase in their proposed budget. It is estimated that law enforcement will receive a total investment of 7,1 billion Swedish crowns during the coming 3 years. However, according to Malin Sahlström, the police press officer of the Western Region, it is not yet clear how this money will be distributed.

“Meetings will be held Wednesday and Thursday this week where the police department together with government representatives will discuss a plan,” she says.

Although little can be said about the distribution, Sahlström believes that the budget increase is essential and can strengthen core police operations. Additionally, she believes that the extra funding of police in Västra Götaland would be an important part in educating more policemen while also expanding police presence on the streets.

The major decision to invest in the Swedish police department is historically the biggest of this century, and on the streets of Gothenburg many believe that it is a necessary action. According to 21 year old student, Isabella Persson, there is a need of investment within local police stations and for increased personnel.

“Many smaller local police stations have been shut down, making them dependent on police forces in nearby cities. This leaves people with a more unsafe feeling since less police are present on the street, as well as they might not know how quick the police will arrive when needed to a crime scene,” Isabella says.

According to a report by the National Board of Forensic Medicine (NBFM), Sweden is divided into six regions all experiencing a clear rise in crime, with Gothenburg’s homicide rate standing out above all other Swedish cities in 2015.  

Johan Wopenka, a retired journalist, says that there are a lot of problem areas within Gothenburg well in need of funding and more active police presence.

“If they can prevent crimes by being visible, it’s damn good.”

However, despite the figures the report also states that there is an actual decrease of deadly violence in recent years proportional to Swedish population growth.

Isabella Persson believes that police presence should not be exaggerated.

“After the terror attack in Stockholm there were a huge number of police on the streets, and it almost felt threatening, in a way.’’

Although a significant boost in police presence could benefit the city of Gothenburg, a recent study indicates that the majority of people in the region already feel secure. According to the survey, 53 percent of people living in Västra Götaland always feel safe in their city while only 13 percent feel unsafe.

 

Rajmonda Rexhi, Matthew Weaver, Lucas Dahlström

Unusually early mackerel fishing ban to slam small fishermen

by Sophia Forsberg, Irem Kullu, Viktoriia Zhuhan

First time in years, the coastal fishing and selling of Swedish mackerel will end as early as August. This will slam small-scale fishermen to whom mackerel is a source of living

Lars Henriksson, 49, a fish dealer in Gothenburg and owner of the fish truck Fiskvagnen Linné holds a mackerel. Photo by Viktoriia Zhuhan

“We usually sell fresh mackerel until October or November. Last year people still bought it during Christmas”, Jonas, 38, owner of Ockero Fisk at Feskekörka in Gothenburg said. According to him, it was the first time in 5 years that the coastal quota for mackerel fishing was reached so early. “Five years ago, it was a shock”, he added.

Lars Henriksson, 49, a fish dealer in Gothenburg and owner of the fish truck Fiskvagnen Linné said that he was surprised the day before at the fishing auction when he heard that the quota was finished as early as the end of August.

Some small-scale fishermen make their living exclusively from selling mackerel

The Swedish state environmental management authority Havs- och Vattenmyndigheten decided to prohibit mackerel fishing with hooks and nets from Aug. 28 and selling it from Aug. 31 due to the fact that the 250 tons quota had already been reached. Havs och vattenmyndigheten sets quotas for different species every year based on research data it obtains from the The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, ICES.

In Bua, a small Halland county coastal town known for their yearly mackerel festival, some small-scale fishermen make their living exclusively from selling mackerel. “There’s lots of muttering and grumbling down at the harbor. The professional fishermen think the stop is way too early”, said a local representative of the fishermen organization Havs- och Kustfiskarnas Producentorganisation who wished to stay anonymous.

 Feskekôrka in Gothenburg, Photo by Viktoriia Zhuhan

Jarl Engquist, administrator at Swedish state environmental management authority Havs- och Vattenmyndigheten, explained that the mackerel quota was allowed to be exceeded 2016 resulting in a smaller stock and that the authority chose to be stricter with the limit this year. The set quota of 250 tons is also lower this year compared to the 300 tons set in 2016.

In contrast to the small fisheries in Bua, fish dealers Jonas and Henrik in Gothenburg said their shops would not be influenced financially by the early quota as the biggest customer demand for mackerel falls on summer season and then gradually decreases during fall. For customers who still prefer their mackerel fresh Danish and Norwegian mackerel will be available on the market.

 

On the Same Spot Every Day

 

Bertil Ivarsson has lived in Gothenburg for 70 years. He has seen the city grow from the drivers’ seats of the trams. Although time has passed since retiring, he has not left his former occupation completely.

 

In the crossing of Vasaplatsen and Vasagatan in the centre of Gothenburg, just a meter from the traffic, Bertil Ivarsson, 92 years, is sitting on his walking frame. For the passers-by it might seem like an odd place of choice for a rest, but this is where Ivarsson sits almost every day.

The explanation is simple. The retired bus and tram driver enjoys looking at the traffic.

-This is a way to still be a part of my former occupation, Ivarsson says.

As of a few years he lives at the residential home Vasahemmet. Walking along the streets and looking at the traffic is his greatest pleasure of the day.

-And it is also my gymnastics, he says.

Sitting down on his walking frame gives him opportunity to follow the traffic, but it is also an important rest. His advanced age has had its effects on his lungs.

Ivarsson was born in 1926 and moved to Gothenburg in 1947 to perform his military service. He has seen the city grow and the traffic becoming more intense.

-Only the tramlines have remained the same.

As he started out as a tram driver one ticket could be bought for 20 Öre. When he retired, the price had grown to 20 Krona.

Even though Ivarsson looks back at the time that has passed with a smile on his face, he does not miss the old days. There are plenty of positive changes, he says.

-Nowadays you get help with everything. For example transportation services. I recently got a balcony, which is great.

-But with my walking frame I manage on my own.

Ivarsson could probably be described as a case when the Swedish welfare system works as its best.

His computer allows him to stay up-to-date on contemporary news events. But he does not let unpleasant news affect him too much.

-It does not concern me as I will pass hence soon, Ivarsson says.

 

Felicia Bredenberg

Fredrika Fellman

Hanna Gråsten

Traffic bollards won’t make a difference

Opinions divide as the City of Gothenburg is planning to build bollards on Kungsgatan and Fredsgatan to avoid terrorism.


Kungsgatan is one of the most crowded streets of Gothenburg where hundreds of people pass by every day. It is one of the streets where the municipality is considering to build traffic bollards in order to prevent future terror attacks. However, the citizens of Gothenburg are not convinced.

– I walk this street every day as I work here. I have never thought about a terrorist attack taking place here. However, on the parallel street to Kungsgatan trucks pass by every day, there I think about it, says Gabriella Bengtsson, 31, travel agency assistant.

Even though a lorry drove into the crowd on Drottninggatan in Stockholm earlier this year, the people passing by on Kungsgatan in Gothenburg seem unaffected.

– I always feel safe here so it won’t make a difference, states Peter Törnmalm, 42, event coordinator.

However, 18 year old Christoffer Falk, who works as a face to face recruiter on Kungsgatan has another opinion.

– Yeah, it’s a good thing I can’t see why not!

“Don’t judge anybody and Think before you talk!”

– Gothenburg track driver breaks stereotypes about if there is any connection between an immigrant track driver and the terrorism?

The growth of terrorism we witness is a global concern for the whole world and Europe particularly. In the last couple years most of attacks happened in the capitals and cities of European countries such as Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin and London that had not been prepared for this outbreak. Some of them have a common detail – terrorists use tracks to plow into a crowd. All of such attacks covered as motivated from the newly established Islamic State.

These also draw attention to the ongoing migratory stream from Syria, Iraq and other countries that ISIS had established itself. People start relating terrorists with refugees that travel to Europe to escape from war and Islamic fundamentalism. After all the victims tend to  become the victimizers in European’s minds.

Nordic Countries, including Sweden, is also suffering from the terrorism. The Sweden’s intelligence and security service (Säpo), responsible for counter-terrorism, tells that nowadays Sweden is home to 3,000 violent extremists, of which 2,000 have Islamist motives. Anders Thornberg, the head of Säpo, mentioned this speaking at Almedalen Week on the Baltic island of Gotland, Radio Sweden quotes.

The recent teract in Stockholm on April 2017, when an islamist immigrant drove into the crowd, killed 5 people and injured 15. Somehow, a similar track was noticed in a busy morning in Linnéplatsen, central of Gothenburg on Thursday, 29th of August. The driver named Thomas appeared to be an immigrant.

Keeping recent terror attacks in different cities of Europe and the terrorist’s ethnic background in mind, we were very curious to know more about him.

According to the track driver, he was born in the USA and moved to Sweden when he was 5. In fact, he was adopted by the Swedish pop duo Svenne & Lotta (Svenne Hedlund and Lotta Hedlund were two renowned pop singers in late 60s and 70s).

Photo Wikipedia

The 55 year old Thomas Hedlund, who has been living in Sweden for 50 years, emphasizes that he is not Swede.

He works as a Parcel delivery man in DHL and drives a heavy Delivery truck. We were curious enough to ask how he feels doing his job.

‘Peace, love and understanding. You should be thinking about the other people. Everybody should think about everybody, not make war.’

That was his answer. Thomas admitted he spoke that way because of the recent terrorists attacks in Europe and the new vision of terrorists.

To understand each other is very important in present societies as well as not to isolate anybody from the societies, he says.

“Don’t judge anybody, Think before you talk!” – that is the message Thomas wants to address to this world.