Safe spaces and growing space – our response to the attack in Stockholm
The truck attack in Stockholm where at least four people was killed, was an attack against essential parts of our society’s foundation: trust, openness, democracy, freedom and respect.
The attack makes it even more important to stand up and fight for the values and society that we want to see. We can choose to focus on the terror and act out of fear. Or we can do our very best to share the stories of people acting out of compassion, solidarity and love and stand up for the values we want our society to build upon. The YWCA-YMCA has a mission to empower young people, a mission built on love. Hence, the YWCA-YMCA of Sweden will do the latter.
And we find strength in people’s reaction this Friday. Because there was no hesitation in the response following the attack. Instantly, the people of Stockholm opened their homes to friends-to-be that could not get home, under #openstockholm. Others spent their Friday evening and night in their car to offer lift home so that people did not have to walk. The YWCA-YMCA KOM Hotel, situated only a few blocks away from the place of the attack, opened their doors to people in need of help and shelter.
Now, flowers are being placed down and candles are being lit all over Sweden. During the weekend, there will be manifestations in many cities to reclaim the public space.
Because it is about space. We need to reclaim, not avoid the public space. We need to stand up straight and refuse to give in to the fear that struck us Friday afternoon.
We need to continue creating safe spaces for people and especially young people where we can meet across borders, share stories and experience to grow as individuals and contribute to an open society.
We need to fight against the shrinking space of civil society, and stress the importance of working locally and long term to prevent radicalization or exclusion of young people.
Neither from our international movement was there any hesitation in the response. From all over the world, YMCA and YWCA friends contacted us on email, telephone and Facebook to share their condolences. This warms our hearts, creates hope and reminds us that we are working together for safe spaces, open spaces and growing space.
YWCA-YMCA of Sweden stand in solidarity with the victims of the attack and their families.
Andreas Axelson, President YWCA-YMCA Sweden
Karin Olsson, Secretary General YWCA-YMCA Sweden