iReportAljazeera: How Sweden's 'most wanted man' brought a town together - iReporterNG.Com | No #1 News Media in Nigeria

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iReportAljazeera: How Sweden's 'most wanted man' brought a town together

iReportAljazeera: How Sweden's 'most wanted man' brought a town together

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 When an Iraqi asylum seeker was wrongly accused of plotting an attack, he decided to host a party for his neighbours.

 

Boliden,  Sweden - Moder Mothanna Magid had been famous - or infamous - for days before he even realised it. The 22-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker hadn't seen the newspapers with his picture on the front page. And when the police did turn up, they told him it was to check that his asylum papers were in order.

It was only a little later, as he was being questioned at the police station, that he realised he was suspected of planning a terrorist attack.

"I was shaken by the accusations and fervently tried to deny them," he remembered.

He still doesn't understand how he briefly came to be Sweden's 'most wanted man'.

"When they moved me to Stockholm, they first said a person had given them my name. Later they said a country had given them my name," Moder said. "I still, to this day, don't quite understand what happened, how this mistake was made."

"I'm famous for the wrong reason," he added, quietly.

When he was released without charge after three days of questioning, the authorities offered to house him somewhere away from the tiny Swedish town of Boliden that he had come to call home during the two months he had so far spent in Sweden, presumably because the false accusations against him were now so well known that they feared it might make his life difficult there.

But Moder refused and instead invited all of the residents of the town to a party to "apologise for the hassle" caused to them by his arrest.

Partying with Sweden's 'most wanted man'

"And we want to send a message to the Swedish people that we're not here to terrorise you, we're here to live side by side with you in peace and harmony."

The manhunt for Sweden's first "terrorist" since the failed suicide attack in Stockholm in 2010 had taken the residents of this mining town of 1,500 people, lying 800km north of the capital, by surprise.


 

"I was at home having dinner when my son called and said the police were in town. You see we live just around the corner from [Moder]," said 80-year-old Laila Marinder, who called the party invitation a "fantastic gesture", and added that "it was a relief that Moder came back to Boliden".

Jan Bjorkstrand, a 59-year-old IT teacher from a nearby town, shared Marinder's admiration. "When you get an invite from a guy who's turned this kind of situation around, a situation that most people and definitely most Swedes would find traumatic, you have to show up and show love," he said.

Bjorkstrand hadn't felt alarmed when the police had picked up the man who had been branded Sweden's 'most wanted' so close to his own hometown, he said, explaining that it's simply not in the nature of "norrlanningar" - Swedes from the north - to get upset about things.

"We aren't scared of terrorism but we are realistic, we know it can affect us. The flip side of having an open society is being vulnerable," Bjorkstrand added. "I wasn't surprised when the security service let him go, but I respect the security service and respect that they can't release the information about why he was detained."


A rubber dinghy from Turkey

When Moder, who had spent all night baking in preparation for the party, finally sat down before the guests arrived, he started to share his story.


"The party was my friends' idea," Moder said. "They wanted to celebrate my innocence and my return to Boliden.

"And then we wanted to apologise to Boliden for all the hassle and attention my arrest caused.

He had arrived in Europe from Turkey on a large rubber dinghy just a few months ago, he explained. "I know how to swim, I wasn't afraid," he said. Then he headed north with a cousin, who went on to Finland while Moder stayed in Sweden.

"I picked Sweden because of its reputation worldwide. And because it's a safe and good country that values knowledge and human rights. In Sweden, people are valued and that's something you can tell as soon as you get here."

He is pondering whether to continue with his agricultural studies, or to study medicine instead. But it is difficult to look to the future, he said, while waiting for his asylum status to be settled. "Time blurs" in such circumstances, he said.

But the most difficult part is being away from his mother, who he hasn't seen in 10 months.

"I don't have the words to describe what she means to me," he said. "I'm used to seeing her every day. I love her above everything. I pray to God that we will be reunited soon."
Locals blame journalists

Moder is wearing light grey sweat pants that are too thin for winter temperatures hovering near freezing.


Culled from: Aljazeera

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