Friday, April 28, 2006

A law unto Myself

Excerpt taken from The Local - a Swedish 'English Language' newspaper.

Sweden's largest Muslim organisation has demanded that Sweden introduce separate laws for Muslims, according to Swedish television.

Sweden's equality minister Jens Orback called the proposals "completely unacceptable".

The Swedish Muslim Association, which represents around 70,000 Muslims in Sweden, has sent a letter to all Sweden's main political parties suggesting a number of reforms, SVT's Rapport programme reported.

The proposals include allowing imams into state (public) schools to give Muslim children separate lessons in Islam and their parents' native languages. The letter also said that boys and girls should have separate swimming lessons and that divorces between Muslims should be approved by an imam.

The letter provoked an instant, and damning, response from integration and equality minister Jens Orback."We will not have separate laws in Sweden. In Sweden, we are all equal before the law. In Sweden, we have fought for a long time to achieve gender-neutral laws, and to propose that certain groups should not be treated like others is completely unacceptable."

Orback said he had spoken to representatives of the Swedish Muslim Council, and they did not support the association's position."We have freedom of speech, we have the right to opinions and we have the right to make proposals - but if a law is going to be changed, it must be the same for everyone."

Asked whether the proposal plays into the hands of racists, Orback said that it did.

Actually I think Mr Orback is being a bit difficult, don't you?

For several years I too have been giving serious thought to writing a letter to the Swedish government calling for a few new laws to be passed to make my expat life here in Sweden a little bit more like home.

In it I’ve outlined my plans for a new law that makes it possible for all English people to drink in pubs any day of the week for just £2.50 a pint (I've obviously suggested the abolition of the Swedish Kronor and the introduction of British currency to achieve this), as well as another law that ensures SKY Sports is installed free of charge in the homes of all Englishmen (and spouses) so we can watch Premiership football at the weekends.

In addition I've called for the traffic to be switched back to the left-hand side of the road and for all the Swedish pizza restaurants to be immediately replaced with Indian ones.

I’ve also demanded the following:

  • All School children up to the age of 16 must wear school uniform and call their teachers Sir or Miss.
  • St George’s Day (the national day of England) should be made a public Bank holiday in Sweden.
  • Father Christmas should be forced to hand out presents on Christmas Day and not Christmas Eve, as is currently the tradition in Sweden.
  • Any attempt to put fermenting herrings into a tin should result in immediate arrest and long-term imprisonment.
  • Moms (VAT) should be lowered in line with the UK from 25% to 17.5% - but just for the English.

I’m very hopeful for a positive response from those nice people in the Swedish Government. After all, it only seems reasonable now that I live here, don’t you think?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Dreaming of Spring

I think I knew something was different before I even opened my eyes this morning.

Pulling myself wearily out of bed I shuffled over to the window, pulled the blinds and gazed outside. Warm rays of early morning sunlight forced me to screw up my eyes and warmed my face – in that instant I knew Spring had finally arrived.

I love April. As unpredictable as a pregnant wife, it signals the end of the winter and the start of longer, warmer days ahead.

April is nature’s way of wiping the slate clean, giving you the chance to forget all about the cold and the snow and start again. For me it’s the first real month of the year – a time for optimism, a time to make plans and dream dreams.

Like a bear from a cave, you can finally emerge from your house after the long, dark winter months and reclaim the great outdoors. There’s nothing like a crisp spring morning to rejuvenate the soul, taking long walks through the fields, frozen dew softly crackling under your feet as day by day the watery April sun rises ever higher over the horizon.

Or being caught out in an April shower, getting soaked to the bone while dodging for shelter in shop doorways. But you don't get angry - rather just invigorated.

I love April for the daisies – the true April flower – which stubbornly push their way through the green grass and spatter the lawns and fields with Easter colour as birds sit in the thickening hedgerows singing courtship songs to each other.

In just a few days we’ll be able to hear the first call of the cuckoo, followed by Swallow day on April 15th, when the chimney swallows make their spectacular return from their winter retreat.

In April everything just seems a little easier – a little more alive. People have a spring in their step and smiles on their faces. You can’t help feeling somehow reborn, as if swept up in nature’s enthusiasm to show what it can really do.

As I looked out of the window this morning I knew something was different. The light in my eyes was stronger now – almost blinding.

“Wake up Daddy”, said Tom, as he pointed the torch right into my face.

Pulling myself wearily out of bed I shuffled over to the window, pulled the blinds and gazed outside.

“Bollocks” I thought to myself. “I forgot. I live in Norrland”.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Explosive Fish Grounded

I read with delight on the BBC news website that several major airlines have now banned surströmming from being allowed on board and classified it alongside dangerous weapons like shoe bombs and firearms.

Couldn't agree more. Fish left to rot in a can for over six months is without a doubt a potentially explosive substance - particularly after it's been eaten.

By banning it British Airways and Air France (who for once are in complete agreement on something) are doing a great service to the rest of Europe by stopping the export of this disgusting delicacy.

Of course the chairman of the Swedish Rotten Herring Society doesn't quite see it that way.

According to the Beeb, he thinks the airlines should ban explosive bottles of champagne and smelly French cheese ahead of his beloved Baltic herrings.

In response I think the airlines should ban him from ever getting onboard one of their planes again. Gathering by the amount of surstömming he eats throughout the year he's probably both smelly and explosive enough to be considered a real danger to fellow flyers.