WHO IS HUSBY?

The northern Stockholm district Husby, a Thursday in late March, 9.30 AM, sunny weather. A pin drop can be heard from a distance. Is this supposed to be the suburb that is known for its crime?
As we walk around in the neighbourhood, getting people to speak about their native is difficult. Most people are sceptical of speaking with the media.
In 2013, a library was built at a cost of 40 million SEK (€4 million). The Library was part of a renovation project in a neighborhood that has been badly portrayed in the media.

According to the Swedish police in December 2015, Husby is one of the most vulnerable area in Sweden. Located just a bit more than 10 km away of the city center, the area is known worldwide for his riots in 2013 where over 70 incidents were reported overnight including a torched police station. This violence occured after police shot a man in the suburb.

Nevertheless, from the public housing program in 1970's it has been created, Husby was the symbol of a mutli-cultural success. In 2007, among those nearly 12 000 inhabitants, 80% of them come from the Middle East and Africa.10 years after, amalgamation between violence and immigration have been frequently used by the press and the people to describe Husby. That's might be the reason why Hamoudi looks at us in a strange way when we ask him some questions.


HAMMUDI, 18
To Hammudi, 18, the media "portray the area in a bad image because they want to sell (their product, red.). If you talk about the normal things people do here, it is nothing special", he says. He had just finished taking the last sip from his Caprison, walking with with seven of his teenage friends.



No doubt, Hammudi is of the opinion that "a lot negative stuff that happens here. That's the environment of how it is to me. If you grow up here, people do not have much opportunities like other people from other areas." He is of the opinion that due to the limited opportunities, the young people are unable to be productive.

Notwithstanding, Hammudi has no worries of the future. He sees himself as an entrepreneur. "I wanna sell shoes and sneakers and make a living out of it."
"We don't have the same opportunities as others. That leads them to stuff as other people say that is bad."

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EVA & HELENA
Eva, 63, and her daughter Helena, 31, sit in front of an ICA supermarket facing a little square. Eva has lived in Husby for over 35 years, she says. Over time, she has seen many changes. "People have grown more scared of each other, scared to talk with each other", Eva says. "They come home and shut the door behind them."

"I was married to a man from Greece. I have never thought of what colour we are. We all live on one planet. My husband was well received because he wanted to work. He held 5 jobs at some point, paid taxes like everybody else. When you come to Sweden, you should contribute, and that is what he did."


Now, times have changed. "People are more scared in this neighbourhood. Crime has risen here. In Sweden, the laws are bad, outdated. Begging and panhandling is not criminalized, but selling weed is outlawed. People shoot each other over that stuff." Eva takes a strand of her hair and looks us in the eye. "Well, not our people, but you know.. And now people living here are scared and more egoistic. Not only have Swedes become more afraid of newcomers, newcomers have become afraid of each other. And everything is deemed racist nowadays, even our national song."

Since 2013, much has been said and written about the district. "Journalists and politicians say: this is where kids burn cars, where they throw stones, where there is drug abuse and crime. There is more trash on the streets now, too. But this is not the kids' fault, I would say. I am a mom, my three kids have not done this. Why would the other kids become like this? Who has the responsibility? The parents. They should have done a better job taking care of them." Helena nods in agreement.


The two show us their home. The apartments are in need of renovation, Eva admits. Looking out from their balcony, they look out on a building for the Iranian association, and a community room. "Altogether, it's not much different here in Husby than it is elsewhere in Sweden. It's just another suburb of a big city. Everywhere, the atmosphere has just been getting less agreeable (mindre trevligare), less hospitable."
The two voice their frustration. Eva: "Too many people have come in, Sweden is too kind. People that come to Sweden know they will get help, and they do, especially if they have kids. I, on the other hand, am incapable of working because of the stroke I had several years ago, but I am still required to work."


"There are not that many people like us left here in Husby", Eva looks with emphasis at us. "There are many new Swedes here now. Husby can only become nicer again if the parents and the schools teach the kids here better.
That what it depends on. Honesty, kindness, consideration, that's what should be taught. Also, everybody should be treated the same. No advantages, everyone should contribute."

SAFIA, 50
Safia, 50, is working on a quilt at Folkets Husby. The first meeting of a sewing group is taking place, and there are 8 people learning how to sew with a professional teacher.

Safia has been living in Husby for 23 years, almost half of her life. She has experienced the neighbourhood very welcoming. For example Folkets Husby has become her second home. "It is open for everybody from kids to adults."


"We can't accept that our young people do dumb things"
She moved to Husby when she was a young woman, and she feels like she has grown a lot there. "I belong between two places. I'm originally a Somali but also Ethiopian."

"I was born in a place where the people are Somalis. I moved and I grew up in Mogadishu. When I was young, 20, I moved to Sweden. I did not know much, I was very young, I had no idea how the world looked like. But I was curious. But I had some friends from back home who made me feel safe. So me and my husband ended up living in Sweden after all."





She has raised her own children in this neighbourhood as well. She thinks it is very important to raise the children to fit the Swedish society so that they know the rules and the way how things work.

"We cannot accept that our young people do some dumb things," she says.

She feels like the media often shows Husby in a negative light and people outside of Husby have a negative image of the neighbourhood. "We do not listen to that. Husby is a part of Stockholm's landscape," says Safia.

ALI, 62
"I have always liked the neighbourhood. In 2010, I took over this store from my mother. Husby has had its ups and downs. The neighbourhood has developed, but only recently for the better. Previously, there were people on the streets that openly dealt drugs, robbed people, youth gang violence. But no longer, the last two years, not here. I am not sure what improved, but the co-operation with the police has been getting better. Thanks to them, I think, Husby has been getting more secure. Even during earlier times, people were always good to us. They saw we were a family business. My wife, my kids, my brothers, we all work or have worked in this shop. But now, we can count on the police that officers will be on location very quickly, in case something happens. I would have never stayed here with my family if this wouldn't have been a safe neighbourhood."
The shopkeeper does not recognize the observation that people living here have become more scared of each other. "That surprises me, but I want to stand with them. It impacts me. If they feel unsafe, then I feel unsafe. If they feel well, I feel well. But the security guards are doing a good job."

Ali has good contact with the people from the neighbourhood. In fact, during the interview, Ali warmly greets various customers that come in. Two security guards enter and check up on him and his shop. One of them, Mohammad, has been patrolling Husby for a year now. On duty, so cannot be named? The neighbourhood has been improving but the crime has been shifting to other areas instead.

People from various corners of the world live together in Husby. Ali likes that. "But I feel Swedish. I am Swedish. I have been living here longer, since 1980, than I have lived in Iran. Me and my family love Sweden with all our hearts. That is also why I was so shocked about the terrorist attack on Drottninggatan in 2017, and now the recent attack in New Zealand. On those days, I shut down my shop. But the best days, really, are the days of Midsummer."
Ali smiles broadly: "Nobody will be around in Central Stockholm, they all come to Husby. They sit on the benches here, celebrate together, it's great. Then, the neighbourhood is alive with movement. Of course, this place has its unpleasant sides, but there are a lot of good people here, too."
"Of course, this place has its unpleasant sides, but there are a lot of good people here, too."

ARNE, 71
Chairman of Norra Järva Stadsdelsråd
Arne is standing by the subway station in Husby and handing out leaflets. It says "försvara Husby 24 mars": save Husby, 24th of March.

He has been living in Husby since it was built in 1976. He says it has changed over the course of years. "When Husby was built there were people coming here from all over the world to study how fantastic it was." There used to be lots of services that do not exist anymore. "All the communal services have moved from here."


Yet, Arne describes Husby as an exciting place where people like to live. There are many challenges in the neighbourhood as well, says Arne. "The unemployment has been high, the area has been overcrowded, and there has been poverty."

"People think it is dangerous to walk around here. They think that women are afraid to walk here," says Arne. He says that media often portray Husby as a bad place. "This is not the case."

Now the people of Husby are facing a new challenge. They are trying to save Husby gård and Järvafältet where there is a plan to demolish the area and build new houses. That is why Arne is handing out leaflets and asking the people to join a protest on Sunday.
"This is basically what the whole world will look like in 50 years. And Husby already looks like that. It makes it an exciting place."
"This is not the first time we are protesting. We have done it many times before against some very stupid ideas coming from the authorities," says Arne.

Many of the people passing by stop to listen to him and support the case. Many of them are saying that they are joining the protest on Sunday. Arne says that Husby gård is his favourite place in Husby. It seems that the people of Husby seem to care about the place as well.


The future of Järvafältet is still unclear but Arne believes in the future of Järvafältet and whole Husby.

"There are people here from all over the world. This is basically what the whole world will look like in 50 years. And Husby already looks like that. It makes it an exciting place."
NORDIC YOUTH MEDIA DAYS 2019
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