May 8, 2016

From accused terrorist to language book writer!

I haven’t mentioned his name before. It’s Moder Mothanna. And together with his Swedish friend Andreas Nilsson he just released an educational book giving Swedes a chance to learn Arabic! 

It was back in November 1915 that a 22 year old man who hade been living among the 1600 inhabitants of the small northern Swedish town Boliden with his name on the door at the asylum accommodation since September, was arrested by the Swedish Security Service. Could he really be a terrorist?

No. He wasn’t. It became clear after interrogation. The young man was released and promised support from Swedish authorities. To be arrested as a possible terrorist must be nothing less than a trauma. The Swedish Security Service claims though that the arrest, at that time, was the right thing to do. They had intel.

The ground in Boliden was covered with snow as the young Iraqi man was back. He has no idea where the intel about him came from, he himself fled from ISIS and the war. The accusation is what’s hurts, how people could think that he was someone and something he wasn’t.

The weekend after, he and his friends rented a community center throwing a party to celebrate he was back, inviting everyone in Boliden, serving delicious Arabic food. They wanted to connect closer with the people of the small town, saying thank you, striving for creating a life together.

A winter has passed. Moder Mothanna still doesn’t have a residence permit. The promised support from Swedish authorities didn’t happen. And the Swedish Security Service never gave him any explanation what so ever to why he was arrested as a suspect terrorist. The story is hanging over him as a dark cloud which he will probably forever be living in under.

Moder Mothanna sued the Swedish state for 1million Swedish crowns (122 849,368 $) because of wrongly being suspected of particularly serious crime and additionally incurred mass media suffering. The outcome happened this week. The Attorney General has lowered the damages. Sweden will pay Moder Mothanna 12 000 crowns (1474,192 $). Very generous. 

But in spite of this huge disappointment, Moder Mothanna prefers to focus on something else this week. As a part of creating good energy for himself and the people around him, he and his native Swedish born friend Andreas Nilsson focused on a mutual project. Andreas, a Spanish teacher, and Mothana came up with an unusual idea: why not trying to build bridges between Swedes and Arabic speaking refugees with giving Swedes the possibility meeting their new neighbors in their native language?

What a great idea! There is nothing like learning a new language. Word by word. A new world slowly opening up. Widening the horizon. You become a baby taking your first steps. And in this case, steps to meeting and understanding people having fled for their lives wishing to create a new one in the cold north only hours from the polar circle.

And it would balance the situation. Learning a language, you are inferior to people already talking the language. The dynamic will shift in the grocery store when the Swedish cashier asks the Arabic speaking refugee for the words for milk, bread and coffee. Language units. Moder Mothanna and Andreas Nilsson knows this. And that’s their mission.

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