Two young people, Lavin Eskander (20) and Ahmed (17), have been brutally murdered in a horrific attack on a school in Trollhättan, Sweden. Several more, including a 15 year old boy, were seriously injured in the attack. Madeleine Johansson reports.
Lavin was a student assistant at the school who bravely died to save children from the attacker, while Ahmed was one of the students at the school.
The attacker, Anton Lundin-Pettersson, who was shot and killed by police, was dressed in an SS style costume and was wearing a mask. It’s been subsequently revealed that he had promoted and displayed neo-nazi ideology online.
The school was targeted because of its location in one of the most segregated areas in Sweden, and the victims were chosen based on their skin colour.
Despite this very clear motive, media reports are already starting to refer to the ‘mental health’ of the perpetrator in order to de-politicise the issue.
Why is it that we never see headlines or documentaries about ‘The Threat of Fascist Terrorism’? Some of the most horrific terror attacks of recent history have been perpetrated by fascists, such as the Utöya massacre in 2011 and the church massacre in Charleston, USA earlier this year.
The tragedy in Trollhättan follows a rise of the far-right Sweden Democrat party over the last decade in Sweden. Their rise mirrors that of other far right parties across Europe such as the Front National in France.
The refugee crisis of the last few months has created a polarisation between support and solidarity or racism and bigotry in Sweden, as in the rest of Europe.
The day after the attack the Social Democratic-Green government made a shocking deal with the right-wing parties to make it more difficult for refugees coming to Sweden, including issuing ‘temporary leave’ for refugees rather than permanent leave.
The Christian Democrats, who have seen their support plummet recently, had threatened to bring down the minority government unless something ‘was done’ on the refugee issue, in an attempt to use racism to attract voters from the far right Sweden Democrats.
Despite the leadership’s continued insistence that they’ve left their fascist tendencies behind, there is no doubt that there is a link between the Sweden Democrats’ electoral growth and violent attacks by far right sympathisers.
Increasing electoral support for the far right and a normalisation of anti-immigrant ideology gives people like Lundin-Petterson and Breivik the confidence to act on their twisted neo-nazi ideas. The fascist movement has a history of combining electoral politics with street violence and terrorism.
Regardless of whether the two are organisationally linked or not, the two spheres can’t be separated from one another- A growth in one sphere encourages the growth in the other, and vice versa.
This is why fascism has to be combated both in the streets and in the political arena. That requires a radical left that is willing to confront and combat fascism and racism head-on, including a position of ‘no platform for fascists’.
The left also has to build roots in working class areas and provide a clear anti-capitalist alternative without making any concessions to austerity and neo-liberal privatisation measures.
The cost of not doing so will be more tragic loss of life.