Last Night in Sweden

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Last Night in Sweden

President Donald Trump’s controversial comments on Sweden’s immigration policy have led to a new exhibit and a book by some of Sweden’s leading photographers, entitled “Last Night in Sweden”.

Last Night in Sweden
The first copy of the book will be presented to President Trump

One week ago, in Florida, President Trump repeated his sharp critique of Europe’s refugee policies and the attacks of terrorists. He also mentioned Sweden, which for a long time has not been a target of recent terrorist attacks.

Leading Swedish photographers have therefore as a rebuttal to Donald Trump’s false claims about terror attacks in Sweden collectively contributed photographs to a new crowfunded book published by Max Ström. The first copy will be presented to President Trump and sent to all members of the US Congress and European parliament.

Here is an image showing that’s bedtime for 94-year-old Aina Friman at the Sekelbo retirement home in the Kortedala district in Gothenburg. Dementia has crept up on Aina and she needs Abdi Hersi’s help with most things. The 24-year-old care assistant came from Somalia in 2008 and is one of the many new Swedes who help ease pressure on a healthcare system strained by an ageing population. For Aina and the other residents in the five-storey house, he is both a personal assistant and an on-call fellow human being

Last Night in Sweden
Bedtime for 94-year-old Aina Friman. Photograph: Lisa Thanner

Since there had been no extraordinary trouble that ‘last night in Sweden’ and Trump later tweeted more negative comments on Sweden’s immigration protocols, these comments baffled many Swedes.

Related: Sweden – The Humanitarian Superpower

Here is an image from Hallonbergen in Stockholm, featured in the book. Mazen Bahe has developed his musical skills in the St Petrus’ Band, which is getting ready to assemble for rehearsal as he warms up. ‘Most of the players are beginners,’ explains leader Noel Tappo, who teaches almost 50 children and youths. ‘Our goal? Simply to help them to learn new things’

Last Night in Sweden
Mazen Bahe has developed his musical skills in the St Petrus’ Band. Photograph: Anna Simonsson

“We’ve got to keep our country safe,” said President Trump in Florida a week ago. “You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” he added.

Moose graze in the forest and the waters are rich with pike, grayling, whitefish, turbot, trout and, in the summer, salmon in the Köakämä river in Naimakka. Here Simon Siikavuopio has driven his snowmobile on to the river, where the early May ice is still half-meter thick.

Last Night in Sweden
Simon Siikavuopio has driven his snowmobile on to the river. Photograph: Magnus Sundberg

The book and the exhibition “Last night in Sweden” is an effort to present a more diverse and multi-faceted portrait of the country.

According to Anette Nantell at Max Ström, who has commissioned the book, the photos – all taken after 6 p.m. in the spring – present a diverse portrait of Sweden, from an elderly couple in their sauna to a group of Scouts from Syria practicing music.

Related: State-funded Imam Training in Sweden

An evening supper stew of moose, reindeer and cabbage is simmering in 80-year-old Åke’s kitchen, and four-month-old Balto, a Swedish Elkhound, joins the party. Åke and Simon live a life that largely resembles that of their ancestors, close to nature and the changing of the seasons. It is 155 miles (250km) to the nearest town Kiruna, which is the northernmost town in Sweden. There’s total darkness 24 hours a day in winter, and Naimakka holds the national record for lowest temperature: -48.9C

Last Night in Sweden
In 80-year-old Åke’s kitchen. Photograph: Magnus Sundberg

“What has President Trump been smoking?” Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister, commented on Twitter.

True love never fades away, especially not when lovers spend time together in the sauna. Birgitta and Bengt Bohlin, 87 and 86 respectively, met in 1955 when Bengt moved from Borås in the southwest to take a job building hydroelectric plants in Birgitta’s native Lapland. ‘It was instant passion,’ he recalls. ‘We found out right away that we had the same interests, the same simple demands on life’

Last Night in Sweden
Birgitta and Bengt Bohlin, 87 and 86 respectively. Photograph: Moa Karlberg

“We felt we had to react because we didn’t recognize Sweden at all in his words,” photographer and publisher Jeppe Wikstrom told The Associated Press before the opening of the exhibition.

In Stenungsund a pair of rebuilt roller skates with a metal heel give the best grip. Even a Viking sport like tug-of-war can adopt modern materials and techniques. Sweden is a world leader in the sport

Last Night in Sweden
a pair of rebuilt roller skates with a metal heel give the best grip. Photograph: Daniel Stiller

Admittedly, President Trump did not state that a terrorist attack had taken place in Sweden. However, he mentioned Sweden right after he chastised Germany and therefore suggested that he thought it might have.

The contractions are coming faster now, and 26-year-old Mave Lochove gets a hand to cling to from her mum, Akiki. It will still be nine hours of agony before a little girl will be born at Stockholm South general hospital who will get the name Juliana. She’s the first to be born in this country to a family that fled from the Congo conflict, coming to Sweden in November 2016.

Last Night in Sweden
The contractions are coming faster for 26-year-old Mave Lochove. Photograph: Anette Nantell

According to Mr. Trump Sweden took in large numbers of refugees, and they’re having problems like they never thought possible.

Following a series of shootings and rock-throwing aimed at police this year in the Stockholm suburbs of Fittja and Rinkeby, a group of women got fed up. Now 40 women, most of them immigrants, are volunteering as ‘night walkers’ on Fridays and Saturdays to keep an eye on the neighbourhood’s youth and help de-escalate conflicts. ‘If we see anything happening, we call the police,’ say Fatma Ipek. ‘We’re strong, and we’re never afraid’

Last Night in Sweden
40 women, most of them immigrants, are volunteering as ‘night walkers’ on Fridays and Saturdays. Photograph: Anette Nantell

The book “Last night in Sweden” doesn’t shy away from complicated truths, and the foreword acknowledges that following an extremist attack in Stockholm in April, it’s “hard to claim that ‘nothing happened last night in Sweden.’”

Anna Claren, the head of the Nordic School of Photography, has worked on selecting the photos for the book. “Of course there are a lot of different people,” she says, “but there is so much warmth around and among people.”

More photos from the book:

Hall prison in Södertälje holds inmates convicted of the most serious crimes. Here, Åsa Nensén works as a production manager for the laundry, the ceramics workshop and the plastic factory. Prisoners who work in the facilities are paid 13 krona an hour and are confined to their cells between 7pm and 7am.

Last Night in Sweden
From Hall prison in Södertälje. Photograph: Lars Pehrson

When no one seemed interested in hiring a handicapped former Algerian soldier, Antoni Khadraoui decided to open his own gym in Uppsala. Today he ranks among the world’s elite in bodybuilding. ‘When I’m on my back doing bench presses, I’m as good as anyone,’ he says. ‘But when I started out I wasn’t allowed to compete because of my disability. That pissed me off.’ Antoni built his gym so that anyone can train there regardless of physical status

Last Night in Sweden
Former Algerian soldier, Antoni Khadraoui decided to open his own gym in Uppsala. Photograph: Jonas Lindkvist

Orcs, elves and blackbloods take a breather in a glade north of Västerås. For five days they live out their roles in an epic fantasy world, only breaking the illusion to use the toilet, call home or eat modern food. Live action roleplay games, Larps, have been popular among young adults in Sweden since the 1980s.

Last Night in Sweden
Orcs, elves and blackbloods take a breather in a glade north of Västerås. Photograph: Roger Tuersson

Sweden has a long history of welcoming refugees from many countries in the world.  But even some of the most tolerant and idealistic Swedes have raised questions about whether the country can absorb so many newcomers so quickly.

Feature image (on top): Thirty-seven-year-old Maria Grancea is Romani and she’s doing her best to support her family as a beggar in Örebro. She’s left her two boys with their grandmother in Romania, and now she’s in her seventh month of pregnancy. ‘I beg because I want my kids to be able to go to school – I never got to,’ says Maria, who estimates her daily income at 100 krona (£9.43). Photograph: Kicki Nilsson

Last Night in Sweden, compiled by Admin

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