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On April 7, my hometown of Stockholm was exposed to a terrorist attack as a stolen truck plowed through the busiest street in the city, Drottninggatan, killing four people and injuring 15.
Drottninggatan is a cosmopolitan hotspot. It is the main street in the country to go shopping, eat out with friends or just walk around and enjoy the view of the Revival architecture. Thus, all of my family members, including my aunt, were either in the area or close to it while the truck plunged through the innocent crowd of people.
Fortunately, all of my family members were OK, and thanks to social media, I was assured by my friends that nobody I knew was hurt. Yet the incident impacted me and left me sick to my stomach. As your home is your Achilles heel, something this terrible and expostulating occurring leaves you dull and speechless.
The terrorist, whose main motive is yet unclear, obviously wanted to spread fear and hate. Nevertheless, he failed.
What happened the day after the attack was sublime. Thousands of Stockholmers convened and had a “love manifestation,” where they mourned, held hands, bestowed police officers with flowers and mused in concert over the atrocious attack.
There was no xenophobic rhetoric, no bigotry and no hate. Instead, the shocked big-city people of Stockholm, who are usually isolated and distanced, smiled, hugged and conversed. Sweden showed the world a great example of how openness and love overcomes hate.
Being upset and angry about a terrorist attack is natural and actually necessary, as every act that involves the loss of innocent human lives should be condemned. Nevertheless, letting hate dominate in the social and political discourse after an event like this only leads to segregation, which is what every terrorist organization out there wants to achieve.
We will not give them what they want.
According to several Swedish news outlets, extensive emergency services did an outstanding job of handling the situation. They locked the city down in no time and even caught the perpetrator hours after the onslaught. Consequently, police officers were specifically honored and acclaimed at the manifestation.
One of my sisters, who is a police trainee, told me about the public’s benevolence toward the lawmen after the attack.
“Everyone just stood there, cried and hugged each other and held hands with strangers. It was the nicest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.
I’m very proud of my city and my country for showing a fitting example of how to handle a terrorist attack. They didn’t let it break the spirit of our people. They didn’t let bigotry dominate the political and social discourse. Instead, they radiated vitality, debilitating the terrorist’s agenda and illustrating that the Swedes will not let wicked attempts to spread malice ruin the country’s core values.
Markus Aamisepp is a Swedish foreign-exchange student studying at Thomas Nelson High School who is working at The Kentucky Standard as part of the school’s co-op program.