School attack in Sweden motivated by anti-immigrant racism, police say

GlobalPost
People stand by candles and flowers outside a school in Trollhattan, Sweden, on Oct. 23, 2015. The day before a masked man armed with a sword killed two people before being killed by police.

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NEED TO KNOW:

Anti-immigrant, far-right forces in Europe have been ascending for a few years now. In France there is the National Front, which has actually won some elections. The family dynasty that leads the National Front is a fixture in the press.

In Germany, neo-Nazi groups regularly hold large, anti-immigrant rallies. Even in the United Kingdom, the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party was expected to do well in recent elections. In the end, it didn’t do so well, which might be because its leaders say things like this.

The spread of the far-right in Europe is one of the scariest trends in the world right now. All over the region, political candidates are supporting isolationist and protectionist policies. They say disturbingly racist things and are no longer considered fringe.

And it’s all having a dangerous effect, especially as Europe gears up to welcome more refugees into the fold. In Sweden on Thursday, a man wearing a mask and wielding a sword launched an attack on a school. A 15-year-old student and a teacher were killed. Others were injured.

The attacker targeted people with dark complexions, according to the Swedish police. Police also said that it was clear from his social media accounts that he had a fascination with Hitler and supported the far-right Sweden Democrats, a party critical of Islam and immigration.

WANT TO KNOW:

China has awarded its Confucius Prize to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Congratulations, Robert Mugabe.

The Confucius Prize is China’s answer to the Nobel Peace Prize. It was created in 2010 after jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize. Liu, recognized for his "long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China," remains in prison.

This year the Nobel for peace went to the group that helped guide Tunisia from the turmoil of revolution to a functioning democracy with a progressive constitution.

Mugabe, who is 91 years old and has held power for 35 of them, began his career as a hero. He was a liberation fighter jailed by the white-supremacist Rhodesian government. He became the first black president of the renamed Zimbabwe in 1980. Then things quickly went downhill, writes GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Erin Conway-Smith. He has overseen the massacre of opposition groups and campaigns of violence and torture. Elections in Zimbabwe are a fraud. Mugabe is terribly corrupt, even as his country languishes in ever-more-dire economic straits.

But, despite all that, according to the Confucius Prize committee, “If Zimbabwe did not have Mugabe as its president, the country would be facing great difficulty — even public security might be in danger.” Well, then, much deserved, indeed.  

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

In Jerusalem right now, things are tense. Frustrated and mostly young Palestinians have been taking their anger out on Israeli Jews in the streets. And Israeli security forces have been treating Palestinians with increasing brutality.

It’s an atmosphere of terror for both sides, and the police are making it worse. This week they released a video that instructs Israelis how to spot a terrorist. According to the video, pretty much anyone could be a terrorist.

Here are some of things the video says you should look for: Anyone who is “walking in a determined fashion” or “standing in one place,” “people who are staring into space,” or “people who are taking pictures for no reason.” Also, people “looking from side to side,” “smoking quickly” or “talking to themselves.”

“Throughout the video the narrator also advises Israelis to be on their guard against people who ‘look’ a certain way,” writes GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Laura Dean. “But looks can be misleading. There have been several attacks in recent days by Jewish Israelis on other Jewish Israelis because they mistook them for Palestinians.”