"I think you can sum up the effect that 9/11 had on Sweden with three issues: civil liberties, political correctness and self-censure. That’s the sort of things that people are still talking about today, along with perhaps the perceived threat from jihadism or Muslim fundamentalism.
General opinion has been that while Sweden wouldn’t become a target itself, it does run the risk of say, like Germany becoming a base or a safe-haven for jihadist groups to work out of. This fear at this point would appear to be ungrounded. There’s been no evidence that that those kinds of activities are going on here.
In the popular psyche however, terrorism is still coupled to Islam, and it’s something that’s prompted a huge debate as to how Sweden as a society should integrate its one-hundred-thousand-strong Islamic community.
I think that one thing that is very important to Swedes is being a free and open society.
I mean politicians in Sweden, politicians are walking around in the election campaign with very few security guards etc. Swedes pride themselves on the free society.
So this debate or this issue of civil liberties is something that has been really new to Sweden. So there’s been a lot of concern in the press that people aren’t really thinking about what this talk of being able to bug or being able to track people’s online activities, where that’s actually going to lead Sweden, I think that people are just actually still - even five years after 9/11 - having a knee-jerk reaction “terrorism is bad we need to stamp it out."
The Scandinavian countries at the time, five years ago when this happened, perhaps felt indeed less threatened by any follow-up action of this kind, unlike some other European countries seen as closer allies of the US but that perhaps has changed in these five years ?
"I think it was felt that there was peace and harmony reigned here. That really changed last year and definitely the beginning of this year with the Danish caricature affair.
But in one development, a website of a far-right party where similar drawings were published, that was actually closed down after pressure from the Swedish foreign office, something which led to the resignation of the foreign minister here when that came to light.
So while we haven’t seen direct effects of 9/11 in the type of problems or even in terrorist attacks that have been in other European countries, Scandinavia has in its own way been affected quite dramatically by the events of 9/11."Listen to the report:
An almost immediate impact of the attacks on the US in 2001 in Britain was a move to bring in legislation giving police wider powers, notably to act on suspicion of terrorist activity. Some see such initatives on the part of the British government as sensible and effective prevention steps. Others have raised concerns over abuse of rights.
The case of France. Feeling less under threat because seen to be less supportive of the United States than some of its neighbours, France has also seen an array of tough new anti-terror laws. And according to some opinion polls, more people are more wary of their Muslim neighbours in France in the wake of 9/11.
German’s were shocked to find that those believed to be behind the attacks on the US five years ago, had worked on their plan in one of its own cities. The authorities try to work out how to move forward, to protect themselves and others, while dealing with its particular history, and recent policy of welcoming foreigners.
Network Europe reporters ask ordinary citizens what they think about how 9/11 has affected their lives. From living in fear to “nothing has changed”, to embracing religion, or embracing the United States, depending on who you are and where you are.
Polish people feel vulnerable and wonder if they are could be on a terrorist hit-list because they have shown support for the US war on terror. So the level of suspicion is high and tighter anti-terror laws are on the cards.
We reported on surfing on the river in Munich but the city is better known for other liquid-based fun. As thousands of visitors to the legendary annual beer festival will testify. But what is the festival called? You can email us your answer. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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