Malmö, beloved Malmö.

As a kid I grew up hearing from my family about how swedish people had a “blue stripe on their back”. A term referring to Sweden letting the Germans pass through the country to reach Norway during the second world war. Instead of fighting the nazis, Sweden helped them just reach the neighbour instead. The people that told me these things were my family on my mothers side – my Mom is Norwegian.

I also heard about how the Swedes didn’t really have work ethics. They’re lazy and let the foreigners do the work. My father told me a lot about this and he was probably right. He immigrated from Finland as a worker during the seventies, when there was a lack of workers in Sweden.

As a kid we moved around a lot in Scandinavia. I was always “the finn” or “the norwegian” when I was in Sweden. In Finland and Norway I was always “the swede”. I always got irritated by this, because being called Swedish was almost the worst thing you could call a kid. Still to this day I jokingly correct people who call me Swedish that the only swedish thing about me is that my home countries have both been invaded by Sweden.

This is all typical neighbouring countries joking with each other. Even though some people take it too serious and kids in general can be quite mean, they are a way to finding ones own identity and to also somehow deal with pain from serious historical issues. Yes, Sweden should not have helped the nazis in the second world war. And yes, Sweden did let the foreign workers do the shitty work for lower wages, and still does so today.

I am not really a big fan of Sweden. I’ve been falsely imprisoned by the government, after a quite openly corrupt court case in the country. I’ve always been treated as crap by the system growing up. I’ve had the police hang up on me when calling for help because they thought my finnish surname meant I was a roma person. And for some insane reason, roma people is still treated like crap all over europe.

But even I get upset after the attacks on Sweden lately. People who have no insight, no idea, just hearing rumours or reading troll news, are commenting on how fucked up Sweden is. People like Donald Trump and Julian Assange, who have a lot to gain on getting the public to consider Sweden a failure, are talking nonsense about the country. Letting some of the things they say become “facts” are however quite dangerous as it sets a precedent on how other countries will behave in the future.

As I said I’m not the biggest fan of Sweden. However, I’ve moved around Europe and I’ve always ended up back here. There’s a reason for that. Actually, I always end back up in Malmö, the now most infamous city in Sweden. There’a reason for that too.

When people say that Sweden has a problem with too many immigrants, the major issue is that other countries are not stepping up to help refugees. My own home countries included. I’m ashamed of Finland and Norway for not helping. Both countries point to Sweden saying how it’s taking in too many immigrants at once. And sure, there’s not enough apartments to go around, there’s not enough schools for the kids coming. But if every country did their part, it would not be an issue. Sweden can hold it’s head high for actually trying to help where other countries just are plain racist and egotistical.

When people say that Swedens immigration is failing, they’re not recognising the fact that Sweden is built upon that immigration. Very few people in Sweden are indigenous, actually less than 100.000 people out of a population of 10 million. People have always migrated into Sweden, for different reasons. It’s a huge country in size, with lots of space, beautiful nature and traditionally being a very open country. Hell, even the royal family are immigrants with the funny last name “Bernadotte” originating from France. The queen is half-german, half-brasilian. We joke about her speaking worse Swedish than most other immigrants. And that’s typical Swedish culture: swedes joke about themselves.

Many of the things people complaint about Sweden for is mostly because Sweden (actually the general Scandinavian area) works differently from most capitalistic worlds. It gets hard to understand. Traditionally Sweden have been a “mixed economy”, with socialistic ideas on how the nation needs to help the citizens with health care, child care and the right to a place to live and such, but also allowing a market economy. From this typical Swedish compromise comes a different approach and view to how most thing should work. It’s not always working well, but has been a very pragmatic solution for integrating Sweden to the rest of the world financially.

The thing most people complaint about Malmö is blown out of proportion. Sure, Malmö has (compared to the rest of Sweden) quite a lot of crime. But also (compared to the rest of sweden) Malmö is a very poor city in the country. The geographical location also spawns a lot of the situations: it’s the city you end up in when going across the border. This means that most things that gets smuggled into Sweden will go through Malmö. Not because of Malmö being Malmö, but because of the location. Drugs, weapons, things that all nations struggle with fighting, passes here if it passes into Sweden. And also refugees. They arrive in Malmö, and lots of people with big hearts and open arms welcome them. The refugees wants to stay because other refugees from their own nation are around, and because Malmö is such a great place to live!

Malmö is a small city of about 300.000 inhabitants, half of which are born outside of Sweden. It’s the third largest city in Sweden but it’s the city everybody is talking about. Both in Sweden and outside. Forget Stockholm, it’s a has-been city with 1.2 million people too scared to go to Silicon Valley or too impressed by themselves and their sourdough bread baking for leaving. Ignore Gothenburg – did you even know that was a city? – which is number two in Sweden, despite being twice the size of Malmö, there’s nothing exciting about it. Malmö, the poor number three, with the funny dialect and all the immigration is the most exciting city in the region. All exciting new culture comes from here. It’s got the most exciting artists, galleries. It’s (although I hate this) considering itself the Silicon Valley of Scandinavia because so many start-ups come from here. It’s a city where people don’t care how you look or how rich you are, they care if you do things to change the world. It’s definitely not the most beautiful city in the world, actually it’s very rough – but the nature surrounding it is amazing. Half an hour by train and you’re in the middle of a forest. Half an hour by a train another direction and you’re in one of the largest airports in the Europe, with direct flights to most locations you’d ever need to go to. In Malmö it’s closer to Berlin than to Stockholm, both in mentality, creativity and in actual distance.

I’ve had some of my worst life episodes in Malmö. I’ve had some of my best. I’ve got my favorite secret locations in Malmö. I’ve got my favorite nature. I’ve got my favorite restaurants, people, comedians, artists in Malmö or Copenhagen. And let’s face it, Copenhagen is just a big Malmö suburb. Sure, Malmö is suffering from problems. The murder rates are high for being Sweden. 3,4 out of 100 000. But compare that to New Orleans (41,4) or Saint Louis (59,2). Not saying the murders are Ok, it’s just more complex than “malmö bad”. Most of the problems in Malmö originates from inequality. It’s got a poor population. But look at what Malmö has achieved, and is achieving, with the little resources is has.

There’s a person that is very much the embodiment of Malmö spirit, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He’s one of many living in malmö originating from the balkans, lived in the poorest neighbourhood in Malmö, Rosengård. Todays he’s one of the most (in-)famous football players in the world. People love to hate him. Every place he goes he has to prove his value, he’s always the underdog and he always over-performs. Even after being one of the worlds most talented players for over a decade, every time he switches to a new team people says he’s not good enough. But just as Malmö, no matter how much he proves his value, he’s still never good enough. I don’t even care about football, but I’m impressed by both Zlatan and the local team Malmö FF, who’s now one of Europes best. From nothing, with nothing. Over-performing. Never getting credit. Always getting shit.

The story of Malmö, and the story of Sweden, that is going around in the international media is not based on facts. It’s not people who has lived in Malmö and understand the city. Actually, it’s built up  by people who doesn’t care, they just want something to point at and blame for some of their own failures or scares. They honestly took the wrong example. Most people who has ever lived in Malmö will tell you the same. Not out of pride but out of love. Just as everywhere else, there are issues. But I’m sure that Malmö will over-perform and fix those issues in the long run. And still, Malmö will be questioned. But hell, that’s the thing that brings a community together. And what a community…

9 comments ↓

#1 sig on 02.22.17 at 09:51

*works differently than to > works differently from

Very cool text! Hope many people read it.

#2 sig on 02.22.17 at 09:54

*witn > with

#3 Bruce on 02.22.17 at 12:01

I will be visiting Malmö for just a day. Can you suggest a couple of places to visit, restaurants to try, to highlight your city?

#4 Guy Gunaratne on 02.22.17 at 12:21

Well said. Lived in Malmö for the majority of last year having moved there from London. I loved the place, the people. I hope one day to go back – say hi to Linus.

#5 Anders on 02.22.17 at 12:23

“half of which are born outside of Sweden” – Rather: Born outside Sweden or has at least one parent born outside Sweden.

#6 Christa on 02.22.17 at 19:29

Had a lot of fun there in 2013 when the ice hockey World Juniors were there. Really want to go back there and visit the places/do the things i couldn’t in 2013, but i’m somehow intimidated by all the news about the violence.

@Bruce: if you like burgers and sports try the O’Learys at the Central Station. Awesome Burger!

#7 somebody on 02.24.17 at 11:32

“Most people who has” <- You should say "have" instead of "has"

You only say "has" when it's a 3rd person singular noun/pronoun, eg. "it has", "he has", "she has"

For plural nouns, or for 1st and 2nd person pronouns, you use have, eg. "they have", "you have", "i have"

#8 laxsill on 02.24.17 at 12:24

Väldigt fin text! Vad man inte heller ska glömma när det gäller Malmös problem med ojämlikhet är den utsugande grannkommunen Vellinge som snor skattepengar från Malmö. Men jag vill minnas att din relation till Vellinge är rätt sund 🙂

#9 Drrignell on 02.25.17 at 15:57

Try Shamiat! A brand new, very good and popular Syrian restaurant. Bergsgatan 5