The Day After – Stockholm, shaken but strong

On 7th August, at 2.53pm Stockholm time, a hijacked van was driven into the pedestrain shopping district of Drottningatan by a 39 year old Uzbekistani ISIS sympathizer. The man had intended to set off a homemade bomb, but failed. 4 people have died and 10 remain hospitalised.

Factual reports in English can be found here.

The attack shocked a nation but did not cow it. When the city was put in lockdown, people opened their hearts to stranded individuals with the #openstockholm hashtag trending on twitter. Individuals offered food, shelter and drink to anyone who could not make it home.

Here are pictures from the morning after. These pictures were taken within the Drottningatan vicinity (around the central station, and Gamla Stan) between 10.45am and 12.15pm. Note that the Drottningayan district has already been undergoing heavy construction even before the accident hence there were already mamy metal batracades even before the attack.

A stream of people make their way up from the central train station to the site of the attack.

A cameraman from Riga/Latvia carries his luggage and camera while walking through the crowd to the site to start filming.

Mobile wifi stations set up a distance away to enable live reporting. Next to them a pair of reporters. The photographer take a shot from the distance.

A journalist from a local station stands in front of the site preparing to go live on TV.

A pair of stone lion statues turns into a mini memorial for those who suffered in the attack.

Wellwishers make their way past the media stampede to lay flowers on the barracades.

A sign hangs on a store located directly opposite the scene. The sign means: closed due to circumstances.

A candle is lit outside the the St Clare’s Church, located opposite the site of the attack. Lit candles in churches are a sign of prayer.

People enter the nearby St Clare’s Church to offer prayers for the deceased. Collared priests are out in force (see left of picture) in the church the provide support to those who need it.

Flags fly at half mast throughout the city. The Central Station, located barely 400m from the site functions as it always has.

Trains continue to run, stalls are open, people are continuing to travel.

Some others buy flowers and single stalks to lay at the site.

Further away from the site, still in Drottningatan, pedestrians continue with their lives. Sitting with friends over a pint on a breezy Saturday morning.

The flag at the Riksdag been lowered to half mast. The Riksdag is the parliament of Sweden located barely 500m from the entrance to Drottningatan. It was locked down immediately after the attack on 7th April.

The bridge through the Swedish Parliament House to Gamla Stan remains open to travellers with increased police presence. Tourist take selfies still, as they should in the Venice of the North.

Tourist, shoppers and shop owners continue with their lives and fika determined not to let the attack rule their lives.

The Free Stockholm Tour continues to run as scheduled.

Stockholm has been mentioned as a victim in the same breath as Berlin, Nice and London because the modus operandi is similar. But Stockholm should be mentioned in the same breath as terrorist acts anywhere. Because terrorism anywhere by anyone is deplorable, whoever it is conducted by whatever it is perpetrated for. That includes the train bomb in St Petersburg and chemical bombs in Syria (and retaliatory air strikes) and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.

Terrorism in its broadest sense is the intentional use of indiscriminate violence to create fear so as to achieve religious, political or ideological aims. It is an act of the weak, an act of the bully, an act of those who have no real guts. It is a expression of weakness because it seeks to engender fear instead of fostering freedom (to agree). It seeks to coerce instead of collaborate. It displays an inherent inconfidence in its ideas.

The weak engage in terrorism. The weasal who has to harm others to get what they want. The weakling that coats himself in a flimsy armour of inordinate violence. The fool who thinks violence begets peace.

It is the act of the schoolyard bully who never grew up.

And we all know how to stop a bully.



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