On Friday, 7 April at 2:53 pm, a truck crashed into the department store Åhlens City in Stockholm, after first going on a rampage along Drottninggatan. Four people were killed, 15 wounded and 9 are in critical care. We strongly condemn this terrorist attack and our deepest sympathies are with all the people affected.
A truck driver had been unloading his truck at a restaurant at Adolf Fredriks kyrkogata, when a person jumped into the front seat and drove away. The driver was hit when he tried to stop him, but didn’t receive any serious injuries. The attacker then continued straight into the crowd at Drottninggatan, towards Åhléns.
In response to this deadly attack, the people of Stockholm showed spontaneous solidarity opening up their homes and offering transportation to those who were stuck in Stockholm when the trains stopped running. This was organised under the hastag #openstockholm. On Sunday a rally was also held to honor the victims, with an attendance of tens of thousands.
During the evening Stockholm was quiet and still. People had to walk when the underground and the trains were halted. Åhléns closed several stores, and theaters and cinemas were also shut. Many people stayed at home.
The police has arrested a 39 year old man for the attack, who later confessed to the crime and expressed sympathies for the reactionary terrorist sect, ISIS. During Sunday morning, yet another suspect was arrested.
Increased repression is no solution
The Stockholm attack is the most recent in a string of similar attacks with vehicles. The first one was in Nice in July, when a man drove a truck into a crowd who were celebrating Bastille Day. 86 people were killed. The attack had seemingly been organised in collaboration with ISIS, who took responsibility for it.
This attack was followed by the one in Berlin, in December 2016, where an Islamist terrorist stole a truck, which he then drove into a christmas market killing 12 and wounding 56. Meanwhile, five people were killed in London on 22 March, when a man drove a car into the sidewalk. The following day they stopped a man from carrying out a similar act in Antwerp and in Berlin.
The media and the politicians have been quick to blame the attacks on “mass immigration” and Muslims. They are using these events to advocate increased surveillance and the use of force by the police. In Britain, social media surveillance was increased, while in Germany the surveillance of asylum seekers was increased and their freedom of movement limited.
In Sweden the police and the Security Service have been ordered to ramp up surveillance through IPRED and FRA similar to the laws passed after the 2015 Paris attacks. Swedish State Television carried an interview with Peder Hyllengren, a “the terror expert” who claimed that “extremism faces too little resistance in Sweden”. The Minister of Justice and Migration, Morgan Johansson, suggested introducing legislation to target people who are connected with designated terror groups.
Increased powers for police means increased powers to harass all so called “suspects of terrorism”, which for the most part just means ordinary Muslims. We have seen examples of how police has tried to “stop terrorism” after the Paris attacks of 2015, when the Swedish Security Service published the name and picture of a man supposedly suspected of terrorism. The man was later shown to be completely innocent. In 2011 the national task force, at the advice of the Security Services, stormed the houses of four different families with children - all because of a person claiming to overhear plans of a bombing. Her testimony was also later shown to be completely false.
The arrested 39 year-old from Friday’s attack, has previously occurred in the Security Service investigations, but has been dismissed. This shows that it is not possible to prevent terrorism through more surveillance.
In fact, the small number of young men who become terrorists, often do so under the impact of the racist discrimination they are forced to endure in Europe. At the same time European countries and the US has been bombing large parts of their home countries to pieces. If anything the constantly increasing powers of the police to “fight terrorism” makes it even easier for Islamists to recruit more people to their mad terror organisations. That is exactly what these groups are rooting and hoping for- the division of society on religious lines rather than class lines.
Hypocrisy from the highest level
While expressing sympathy with those affected, we have to talk about the background of the attack. Terrorism does not originate in a vacuum, and Islamic fundamentalism is not created out of any particular culture among the people of the Middle East, but rather from the interventions of US imperialism in the region.
Imperialist countries has been involved in financing, building and educating groups who are the direct predecessors of ISIS. This was a way to build an alternative to the communist and left wing nationalist tradition that used to have a mass base in the region. They gave support to the Taliban in Afghanistan during the 80s, a direct predecessor of Al-Qaida and what later became ISIS. Recently they have given support to a horde of Islamist groups in the Syrian civil war, among others the al-Nusra-front.
But countries like France, Britain, Germany and to some extent Sweden, also carry responsibility. All of these countries have contributed either with troops or with support for the invasions of US imperialism in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, destabilising the entire region. The government of Löfven carries a direct responsibility. At the moment, it is moving towards membership of NATO, an organ of US imperialism which is actively participating in the criminal Saudi destruction of Yemen.
Saudi-Arabia has previously been among the biggest export markets for Swedish weapons. In the fall of 2015, the government made a lot of noise about not making a new deal with the Saudis. But to improve the frosty relations, numerous trade delegations have been making trips there, and they have founded a Swedish-Saudi trade council. In October 2016 Swedish state TV revealed that Stefan Löfven, Marcus Wallenberg (vice chair for the investment company Investor) and Maria Rankka (CEO of Stockholm Chamber of Commerce) were doing a joint visit to Saudi Arabia, to improve the relationship with the country. The Wallenberg family is the capitalist family currently gaining most from the Swedish export of weapons.
While the government and the right-wing are calling for unity against terrorism, they are in reality cooperating with the country that for decades have been the bastion for Islamic fundamentalism and reaction in the Middle East - and a direct backer of ISIS. They are also exporting weapons to Pakistan, where the military has different kinds of cooperation with Islamist militias, and the United Arab Emirate, who together with Saudi-Arabia is now bombing Yemen back to the stone age.
Fascists breathing fresh air
The attacks against Muslims and increased resources for the police will also encourage the fascists. After the television program Kalla Fakta last week made unconfirmed claims, that the Al-Azhar School in Stockholm separated boys and girl in the school bus, politicians came using very aggressive rhetoric to condemn the school. It wasn’t long before the fascist group Soldiers of Odin, showed up outside the school. A mother of one of the girls told the Swedish daily Dagens nyheter:
“I was really terrified when I understood what the consequences would be of the so-called revelation, made by Kalla Fakta this Tuesday. I thought, oh no, now we are going to get another Trollhättan, where a madman will show up thinking we’re a bunch of illiterates who are indoctrinating our children. Hours later, Soldiers of Odin was standing on the school yard.”
The persecution of Muslims breed more terrorism. In Sweden the last terrorist attack occurred in October 2015, when a masked nazi with a sword attacked people at a predominantly immigrant school in Trollhättan. Despite the fact that three people were killed, the Swedish Security Service chose not to name it a terrorist attack, seemingly just because it was a white terrorist with racist motives. The same is the case with the string of arson attacks against the asylum seekers’ housings. It shows that for the authorities, terrorism is not deemed to be important when it is “Swedish” youngsters who murder, carry out bomb attacks and commit arson.
The racist Sweden Democrats and their band of followers will try to use this to blacken the name of Muslims, but they forget that the right-wing terrorism that their sympathizers are responsible for, claim lives every year in Sweden. The biggest terrorist attack in Scandinavia in modern times was carried out by Anders Breivik at Utöya, and was directed against youth from the labour movement. From the point of view of the victims, it doesn’t matter if the perpetrating right-wing extremists are claiming loyalty to Islamism or to Nazism.
On the front-lines against “Open Sweden”
After it was revealed that the man suspected of having carried out the attacks was a refugee scheduled to be deported from Sweden, both the Social Democrats and the right-wing started demanding more police, stricter rules and more controls. But it’s obvious that this won’t stop terrorist attack. It’s not a leap of the imagination to assume that the decision to deport him from Sweden, accelerated his desperation and the process of radicalization, just as was the case when a mentally confused man who carried out a double homicide at Ikea in Västerås in 2015.
In January, a 16 year old boy who was an unaccompanied asylum-seeker, committed suicide in Vännäs. On the following day two more boys seeking asylum tried to kill themselves. According to the campaign group “Vi står inte ut” (“We can’t take it”) there are hidden groups on social media where unaccompanied minors are planning collective suicides. But no special commissions are appointed to fix these conditions that are crying for change.
Let us remember that the government, consisting of the Social Democrats and the Greens, has been leading the way setting up obstacles for refugees, through border controls, restrictions in the right of asylum and through the EU. The European Union has given 27 billion dollars to Turkey to stop asylum seekers (people in need of protection) coming to Europe and to build a wall towards the rest of the world that would make Donald Trump himself proud. The lack of legal inroads to the EU force people escaping the terror and chaos of groups such as ISIS, to travel in sub-par boats over the Mediterranean Sea. This state terrorism claimed on average 15 lives every day last year.
The statements by the government and the right-wing to defend what they call “the Open Sweden” is hypocritical to the core. It is an open insult to all refugees that are refused their right to asylum and are being sent back because of these unjust restrictions that the government is carrying out. Sweden is not more “open” or “democratic” than any other European country - but on the contrary one of the key players in building Fort Europe. If there is anything ‘open and democratic’ left to defend, it is being abolished by the current government and the right wing. .
It’s a lie that we are “standing united against terrorism”. There can be no unity with a government that is selling weapons to Saudi-Arabia, or with the ruling class that supported them from the very beginning. Nor can we support the police that that defend their power and privileges, and ignore nazi terrorism while deporting refugees to misery, persecution or a sure death. Marxists are fighting for a real unity against terrorism - which can only be the unity of the international working class in the struggle against this parasitic system.
Abolish racism and fundamentalism - abolish capitalism
In capitalism, economic warfare in the form of tariffs, agreements and trade barriers is normal. But the weakening of US imperialism has changed the balance of forces and created room for new aspiring powers in the Middle East, including Turkey, Russia, Iran and Saudi-Arabia. In Syria, Libya and Iraq imperialist powers are arming different groups in a war over control of trade routes or resources.
Terrorism is a symptom of the crisis of capitalism. In the Middle East, right-wing extremists are connecting their rhetoric to Islam, and are eager to pose as anti-imperialists. But these people have never had anything to do with anti-imperialism. In fact, Islamic fundamentalism has always been the tool of western Imperialism in the Muslim world. Without the direct aid of western Imperialism and its Middle Eastern puppets, it could not survive a single day.
When a new economic crisis is lurking around the corner, when poverty and misery is spreading, when right-wing extremists are burning the homes of asylum seekers and police brutality continues with impunity - in such a situation it’s no wonder that there is a small, but marginal, audience for these ideas in Europe. In that sense the right-wing nationalists and the Islamic fundamentalists lean on each other to polarise society along national and religious lines rather than along class lines.
Our first task is to counter all attempts to use the terrorist attack to restrict democratic freedoms, increase government surveillance or give more powers to the police. It’s not only ineffectual against terrorism, but will be used against everyone whom the bourgeois state deems hostile. That includes left-wing activists, but eventually also ordinary workers that are striking or demonstrating. The government is already trying to put nazi and Islamist terrorism and left-wing self-defense in the same category, using the label “violent extremism” (“våldsbejakande extremism”).
Our second task is to answer the propaganda from the racist sympathizers of the Swedish Democrats that will try to use the terror attack to attack muslims and refugees. We have to explain that the people really responsible for the chaos in the Middle East are located in Europe and USA, cynically providing the most reactionary elements with money and weapon to further their own interests. We have to organize the people who are fleeing here into a joint struggle against the exploiters and oppressors of the ruling class.
There is no other way to stop terrorism than crushing the system that creates it. The crisis of capitalism is creating unemployment and poverty everywhere, but also war and misery. Rosa Luxemburg once said that humanity is facing a choice between “socialism or barbarism” which is a fitting description of our current situation. The only way out is a socialist revolution, and the only way to honor the victims of the terrorist attack in Stockholm and prevent more attacks, is to fight for the victory of socialism in Sweden and internationally.
Down with racism and attempts to split the working class!
Down with Islamic terrorism and imperialism!
Against the barbarism of capitalism - for a socialist revolution!