Murder of Foreign Minister Lindh shocks SF State Swedes
Popular minister stabbed to death in downtown department store.
September 15, 2003 2:39 PM
Swedish students at San Francisco State were shocked the morning of September 11th to find that one of their most popular politicians had been assassinated.
46-year-old Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, counterpart to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant in a busy clothing store in downtown Stockholm Wednesday afternoon, and died of wounds early Thursday morning.
The attacker remains at-large, causing one of the most open societies in the world to re-examine how public officials are protected, and whether more security is necessary.
"It's a big shock, politicians in Sweden have always been able to move around freely," said Theresa Stenebring, 21, an International Relations major from Göteborg, Sweden's second city.
However, the most immediate memory for most Swedes is the killing of former Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was shot in 1986 by an unknown attacker outside a cinema less than 1,500 feet from where Lindh was murdered.
As with Lindh's killer, the man who assassinated Palme has not been caught, something which Swedish SF State students attribute to poor police work.
"I'm sure they will be looking for the assassin unsuccessfully for the next 10 years, and they'll be repeating the story for 10 years; the Swedish police are not very effective, and it will be just like with Palme," said Joanna Bujak, 21, a Business student from Uppsala, Sweden's university capital.
The killing comes at a significant time for the Swedish government, leading some to believe that Lindh's assassination was politically motivated. Swedish voters will cast their ballots on Sunday in a referendum on the Euro, the European Union's common currency. While others opposed transition to the Euro, Lindh, a member of the Social Democratic party was staunchly in support of the transition.
Although police have said that the stabbing was more or less random, Swedes at SF State have their doubts.
"They think it wasn't planned, but if he walked into a women's clothing shop it must have been somewhat planned," said Daniel Karlsson, 28, a student from Göteborg who studies in Australia.
"It's just hard to believe that it's true--she was our face to the world."
After Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson's announcement of Lindh's death this morning, condolences poured into Stockholm. Flags flew at half-mast while sporting events and concerts were cancelled.
Despite the fact that Lindh was a harsh critic of the Bush administration, at one point calling him the 'Lone Ranger' for his invasion of Iraq, the U.S. government quickly released a statement praising her.
"Anna will be remembered for her outstanding contributions to international diplomacy and transatlantic relations. She had a special energy, integrity and compassion and she spent a great deal of her time focusing her efforts on global humanitarian issues. Anna was a cherished colleague and friend, and I will miss her," said Secretary of State Colin Powell in a prepared statement.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the news of Lindh's death went almost completely unnoticed in the United States, which was busy commemorating the second anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This was not the case among Swedes on campus, however.
" I don't understand why--this kind of thing just doesn't happen in Sweden," stated Petra Denkert, 27, a Swedish BECA major.
Some were more philosophical, however.
"September 11th. Now we have horrible things for each of our countries in the same day," said Karlsson.
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