Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Swedish protection in Addis Abeba
And so the Swedish journalists in Ethiopia got prison. 11 years for illegal entry and terrorism. I feel sorry for them and their families. 'Merry Christmas'.
The outrage in Swedish media, however, is interesting from a cultural perspective. The trial has been called 'unfair', the case condemned as 'political' and the African system as 'corrupt'. Is this true or is it a case of Swedes taking the moral high ground?
Anthropologists are yet to find a culture that thinks their way is wrong. And judging by this case, this is a very relevant discovery for Swedish culture. It seems very often in Swedish media, and even amongst Swedes themselves, that no other legal system is as honest and fair as the Swedish one. All African and Asian judicial systems are deemed unjust, as are most European - and the American system is seen as flawed.
Is this the reason why Sweden has given itself the role of the social and political conscience of the world? The neutral, peacekeeping and mediating nation? Because at heart Swedes think they're right and the others are wrong?
My recurring feeling is that this belief gives some Swedes a false sense of security. Wherever they are in the world, they feel protected by the superiority of Swedishness.
The particular case in Ethiopia is, of course, a tragedy all round. And although the perpertrators may very well not be terrorists, they certainly did enter the country illegally. As journalists, they saw it as their duty to report on one of the most closed regions in the world. But they got caught.
And, although they might think so, I'm afraid being Swedish won't protect them in Addis Abeba.