Borlänge is a municipality in Dalarna County in central Sweden. The municipality has a population of about 47,000, which includes about 3,000 Somalis, and also, believe it or not, the Somali national bandy team.
In January, the documentary about the Somali bandy team's journey from learning to skate in Borlänge to participate in the Bandy World Cup in Siberia premiered. The documentary was a success and therefore Borlänge Municipality decided to let some of the players from the team adorn the city entrance signs.
However, it did not take long before the signs were taken down again. After just one day the two entrance signs were vandalized by someone who poured paint over the players' faces. The municipality reported the incident to the police and ordered new posters that were put up last week.
The municipality's Integration Coordinator Jan-Olof Lundberg sees the vandalism as an integration problem.
But for the initiator of the Somlia bandy team, Patrik Andersson, the vandalism came as no surprise. He believes that it is due to a misunderstanding about the sign's message, which he had hoped to avoid by proposing a different picture than the one the municipality chose.
- One can not believe that everyone would think that this is a good idea, but I'm pretty sure that those who did this did not see the documentary, they have not had a chance to sit down and discuss what it means.
- I also thought that it should include a Borlange bandy player too. A Swedish guy, born Swedish, a white guy, then it would have symbolized integration in a different way. Borlange Bandy has also been involved and done an absolutely fantastic job so they should also received credit by being on the poster, says Patrik Andersson.
But why is the sign provocative without a white guy?
- That we have received 3,000 Somalis in a short time to Borlange, some think is just too much. If you do not understand that the sign symbolizes the film and positive integration, you can get the feeling that the Somali population is about to take over the entire Borlänge.
- Therefore, I think we should have pressed even more on integration, but now we have to finish this. We will absolutely not budge. Should it happen again we will just put up new signs. This is all about freedom of expression and that we must stand up for our values, says Patrik Andersson to SVT.
"you can get the feeling that the Somali population is about to take over the entire Borlänge." - Let's check on that statement in, let's say 20 years.
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