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Sofyan Aswad: "Generalisation and prejudice can create cultural misunderstandings”

One cold November evening I gave a stranger and his wife a lift home. Of course we talked a lot during the journey. I even asked him:'Do we need a new Martin Luther King in Sweden?'
Sofyan AswadSkicka e-post
Kristianstad • Publicerad 21 november 2022 • Uppdaterad 21 november 2022
Sofyan Aswad
Detta är en personligt skriven text i Mosaik Kristianstadsbladet. Åsikter som uttrycks är skribentens egna.
Sofyan Aswad
Sofyan AswadFoto: Sofyan Aswad

It was two in the morning, cold and rainy,when the man and his wife waved me down. They wanted a lift home, for the man said he had lost his wallet and his telephone.

On the way to Lyngsjö we spoke about all kinds of things, they seemed to have drunk quite a lot. But soon the man started to talk about immigrants, and said I was the finest person he had ever met.

At the same time he started insulting and cursing immigrants. His argument was that they, the immigrants, could not live among us.

”Everybody cannot be characterised by the actions of a few”
Sofyan Aswad

I've no idea how he reached that conclusion, nor what his experience was of immigrants, but I tried to explain to him that we must get rid of the culture of generalisation. Everybody cannot be characterised by the actions of a few.

How we regard people can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it is including, when we can all be considered as having basic human rights. On the other hand it is excluding, for some categorise whole groups of people as being 'good' or 'bad' . Once a folk-group has been stamped as being 'good' or 'bad' this can be used to give or deprive the group of rights. I have seen many examples of this throughout history and through my own personal experiences here in Sweden.

There are different forms of racism, but common to them all is the assumption that people have certain characteristics depending on where they come from and what they look like. But today it is more common with cultural racism,which means that certain qualities are attributed to people simply because they were born into a particular culture or religion. Islamophobia could well be regarded as being a kind of cultural racism.

It goes without saying, immigrants who come here find it hard to become integrated. They keep mostly to themselves, have their own societies, eat a different kind of food, read newspapers from their home countries and do not learn the language properly. But this isolation from the rest of the community nourishes prejudices and sometimes even leads to open conflict with the native population.

”Nor do I think that immigrants must adapt and be just like the average Swede”
Sofyan Aswad

The problem I often encounter is that people reason : 'I haven't seen it, so it doesn't exist'. And this is true of both racists and so-called anti-racists. The racist says.'I've never met a decent immigrant', while the anti-racist says,'I've met nothing but decent immigrants'.

What is common to both of them is that they believe their experiences reflect the climate all over Sweden, and that is a pity, for one person cannot use his own experiences as a base for spreading 'the truth'.

I agree with the Swedes, with the exception of Nazis,of course, who criticise certain immigrants. But immigrants cannot all be lumped together as one group, they think and act in different ways. Nor do I think that immigrants must adapt and be just like the average Swede. It's interersting and fun when people are not all the same.

When I see immigrants making mistakes, I feel ashamed, for I'm afraid that the Swedes think we're all like that. Let us be proud of our differences!