Monday, 27 July 2009

Racism lives

Another event makes one doubt whether it is worth it for foreigners to live in Sweden. A fire broke out in a block of flats and six people died, a mother and her five daughters.(English link!) Heartwrenching, isn't it? What makes it extra sad and scary is that according to witness reports there was an unusual delay before the emergency services arrive, a delay which may have cost the victims their lives. Why, you ask?

The fire occurred in Rinkeby, a Stockholm suburb with a majority immigrant population. This is not the first time something like this happens. When the fire of Gothenburg broke out almost eleven years ago, emergency service took 15-20 minutes to arrive at the scene even though the closest station was a five minute walk away. Why? They claimed they couldn't understand the distress calls that were made, because of the broken Swedish that was spoken (despite the fact that the numerous calls made were by foreign children born and raised in Sweden (i.e. speaking very coherent Swedish)).

Alexandra Pascalidou (Swedish), a blogger, writer and a person who actively speaks out against racism, also adds that when she called the emergency services after her mother was the victim of a break-in in the aforementioned Rinkeby, she was put on hold for half an hour and no rescue ever showed up. What to do? If this is how the emergency services behave, what hope does the average Abdul Mohammed have?

And just this weekend I encountered my first ever verbal racist assault. Is it any wonder I look forward to leaving soon?


Anonymous said...

OMG, they actually put people on hold when you call the emergency number in Sweden? And then they don't even show up? Wow. Note to self: do not under any circumstance need help in Sweden.....better yet, don't ever visit Sweden.

Maya Mame said...

I know, had never heard of that before either. Saying that, the country itself (environment, organisation, cleanliness, etc) is wonderful, so don't let me prevent you from visiting!

posekyere said...

Very scary!
For an emergency service provider to ignore somebody in a deadly situation because s/he sounds foreign is so barbaric.
To me this is more than racism. It is bloody satanic.
Total lack of human empathy.
Take extra care of yourself, Mame Maya!

Maya Mame said...

True Posekyere, it's worse than racism. Thanks for your kind concern, I'll be off in a few days.

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Reminds me of a news report about a beach in the Netherlands where a 'dark' little girl was drowning while beach walkers looked on unconcerned. Sad, but I've come to expect to hear about these things from time to time.

I am sorry to hear that about verbal racist abuse. One of my biggest fears, and the reason I am (ashamed to say) I am anti-travel.

Abena said...

Absolutely sad Rinkeby sounds like the "high-density" Biljmer section of Amsterdam where most Ghanaians living illegally in Amsterdam can be found. Anyway, I always thought of Sweden as better than other European countries when it came to racism...I have half-German cousins and they had harrowing experiences growing up in a family with the only black people in a 100km radius. Of course, when they came to Ghana they were told that they were white and that was strange to them.

Maya Mame said...

OMG, Nana Yaw, I can't believe that, I know I should but it sounds horrible. As for being anti-travel, after seeing what Ghanaian passport holders go through at UK airports, I completely understand.

Maya Mame said...

I think most people have that perception Abena, it is probably because Swedish racism is usually institutionalised rather than blatant and the people are more ignorant than abusive.

Unfortunately I find ignorance is worse, I'd rather be hated as a threat than be considered incompetent for being black, and therefore not be offered any jobs-


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