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Perspective: Terror Came To Stockholm

SWEDEN


Being a journalist, after checking on my family and friends, I started working. During the evening I talked to witnesses and listened to press conferences. I talked to a woman working in the church of St. Klara, situated only a few hundred meters from Åhléns. She told me she saw people running from center city, screaming as they fled towards Gamla stan (the island on the map below). She found two little girls, hiding in the stairs of the church, crying. Some minutes later police officers entered the church, asking everyone not only to leave, but to run.

Gamla

No one in the church was harmed, and the day after the events, churches like St. Klara opened their doors for people in need of comfort, prayers or a quiet place.

Thousands of Swedes traveled on foot to their homes that night. For the many who could not find a way to get home, the city of Stockholm opened places to spend the night. Hundreds of city dwellers opened their own homes or offered something to eat to the stranded commuters as well.

The hashtag #openstockholm was created as a means for people to help each other. There was a wave of solidarity between the citizens that moved the heart of us all.

Later in the evening, at 7:55pm, the alleged driver of the truck was arrested in a shop in the suburb of Stockholm, Märsta. In sharp contrast to the massive criticism towards the police after the killing of Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986 - a murder that remains unsolved – this time Swedes were impressed by the quick and competent work of the police.

The driver, Uzbek national Rakhman Akilov, seems to have had sympathies towards Daesh, but no terror organization had so far taken responsibility for the attack. Akilov had been denied a residence permit a month earlier and was supposed to leave the country, but had gone into hiding.

One other person has been arrested, however police say evidence on this other man is not as solid as evidence against Akilov, which police are describing as “strong.”

During the weekend, Swedes showed their sympathy and their sorrow by covering the entrance of Åhléns with flowers. Among the four who died was a little girl making her way home, a heartbreaking story that made many feel both sorrow and anger.

On Monday – the first working day after the attack – thousands of Swedes went to Sergels torg for a demonstration and a minute of silence at noon. Many Swedes stated their commitment to an open society using the hashtag #openstockholm. Others see the events as an opportunity to further restrict immigration. Some are afraid that the result of the attack will be hatred and racism.

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