Stockholm Chamber of Commerce - Stockholm will never be the same

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Start / Stockholm will never be the same

Stockholm will never be the same

My hometown of Stockholm temporarily turned into a war zone last Friday after a terrorist attack on one of the most populated shopping streets less than a 10-minute walk from my home in the central part of the city.

The deed — a stolen truck was turned into a lethal weapon — mirrored what we have seen in Nice, Berlin and London.

It’s too early to say if this heinous act was the work of a lone wolf or a more coordinated attack.

The police have a few people in custody and investigators have strong suspicions about at least one of them. Officials have confirmed that he was known to the security police. He is of Uzbek origin — like the suspected terrorist behind the dreadful subway attack in St. Petersburg last Monday.

I know a couple of eyewitnesses from the Stockholm attack — and what they saw was indeed nasty. Casualties could easily have been much higher given the place and time of the day. We were lucky in a way.

I was locked in my office all afternoon. Police told us not to leave. Public transportation shut down temporarily, after the truck attack. Police were trying to get cars and people out of the streets. It was after 7 p.m. when I left my office less than a kilometre away from the killing zone. The atmosphere was different: Calm and friendly, but not relaxed.

Stockholm and its citizens have showed the same kind of resilience this weekend as we have seen in other places hit by terrorism. People were open, generous and helped each other in all kinds of ways using #openstockholm to communicate and keep in touch.

Even if it was just a matter of time before something like this happened, it felt unreal. But it wasn’t an episode of Homeland or Designated Survivor, it was a regular Friday afternoon in one of the most beautiful and peaceful cities in the world.

It’s another reminder that Sweden, with its many positive sides and — from a mainstream international perspective — also some cultural peculiarities, is a European country among others. For better and worse.

We are not immune to terror and violence even though we haven’t been at war since 1814. On the other hand, Sweden has experienced the murders of one prime minister and a foreign minister within my life time. So we shouldn’t be totally naive.

Life is definitely getting back to normal, but it will never be the same.

Security matters and appropriate resources and measurements need to be put in place, assessed and debated continuously — especially after this.

Instead of saying ‘I told you so!’ we need to figure out a better way of protecting society without loosing its core values going forward.

Maria Rankka, CEO of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce

The column is published on Toronto Sun Stockholm will never be the same