This year Good Friday falls during a week that’s full of more tragedy, pain, shock, sadness and anger than any Good Friday in recent memory. Christians usually spend the day in contemplation and preparation on this holy day before Easter, but this year they — along with people of every religious persuasion — may find themselves distracted by the devastating events in Belgium. It’s likely that Våffeldagen, which falls annually on March 25 and happens to be Good Friday this year, may understandably get less attention than usual as well, although, like the Swedes, Belgians enjoy waffles any day of the year. Maybe on this Good Friday, if we allow ourselves the Swedish observance of Våffeldagen, we can do so in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Belgium.

A Friday night in Paris in November, a Tuesday morning in Brussels in March. Once again, terror on the streets of Europe, this time in the heart of the EU. Once again aimed at innocent people on their way to work or time off during many Christians’ Holy Week.
Over 30 were dead and as many as 270 wounded when two bombs went off in Zaventem airport and a blast shook the Maelbeek metro station in central Brussels close to the European Union headquarters. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying its operatives had carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices. A later statement promised further attacks, saying: “What is coming is worse and more bitter.”
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel described it as a black day for Belgium and declared three days of national mourning. Vigils have taken place all over the world and the U.S. State Department issued a warning to Americans in Europe, advising them to be vigilant in public places or when using public transport, and to avoid crowded places.


The bombings in Brussels show - once again - how difficult it is to protect society against fanatical suicide bombers, regardless of motive. People who are ready to sacrifice life in some sense become invincible. Brussels is the symbol of the EU and this is where it's institutions are located. So the atrocities are suffered by the entire European Union, a fact that was also immediately stated by several European leaders. “We mourn with Brussels, we grieve with Europe and the democratic society,” was Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s comment, adding what everyone knows - that it is impossible to rule out more attacks: “We will do everything we can to ensure it can not happen, but we can not guarantee it.”
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière openly stated that the targets of the attacks - an airport and a metro station close to the EU institutions - indicates they are not only directed against Belgium, but against the freedom of movement in Europe.

The November attacks in Paris sharpened people’s attention, but life went on in the city. People reportedly go out in the evenings, meet friends and socialize. Laugh, listen to music, drink wine and watch football. Continuing our lives undeterred is part of overcoming the threats to democracy; the terrorists have won if the open society is replaced with fear and an adjusted lifestyle.
People must continue to live their lives as usual - work, travel, meet and debate. It is the freedom to express opinions, freedom to choose how life should be lived - the very essence of western liberal democracy - that terrorists seem to hate and want to destroy.

The fight against the new international terrorism by Islamic extremists is complex. It must be fought on several fronts … it’s about police and security cooperation, but really mostly about safeguarding common western values.
The League of Imams in Belgium, for instance, firmly condemned the “criminal and unspeakable act that took the lives of many of our citizens and injured countless others.” Condemning unspeakable acts is one step in the right direction. In the fight against today’s extremists it will however also take a more widespread change in values, a change in attitude to society versus religious leaders and an acceptance of the open, transparent and tolerant society we embrace in the western hemisphere.
Allow me to end by repeating a paragraph from my editorial of Feb. 15 regarding Sweden’s position: “... ignoring the reality of the refugees’ culture does a disservice to the migrants themselves and also migrant women and girls, who should benefit from the same equality with men as native-born Swedes. Make the values and the laws of society clear to everyone — make sure everyone knows how to play by the rules. The majority of migrants arrive in Sweden to create a better life in a more peaceful society and are willing and ready to work hard for that. Sweden should allow this by being clear about the rules [in society]…”
True to its legacy of openness and tolerance, Sweden and all of Europe have so far embraced every value from a variety of cultures. It is time to ask, or even demand, reciprocity.

The Editors /   Ulf Barslund Martensson
                         Editor in Chief and Publisher