After long efforts by activists and especially Hans Richter, the Pope of Human Rights in Sweden, the park was officially named Fadima in 2012. Photo: Rudaw
By Shad Muhammad
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – With only a single Kurd honoring her memory, a monument was unveiled in the Swedish city of Uppsala for Fadima Shahindal, a Kurdish girl raised in Sweden who was murdered by her father in a so-called “honor killing.”
The memorial at Fadima Park was built largely through the efforts of the Glöm aldrig Pela och Fadime organization, which means, “We Will Never Forget Pela and Fadime.” It was founded by human rights activists and Kurdish and Swedish women after the murders of Pela Atrushi and Shahindal in “honor killings” in Sweden.
“The Kurds have opposed our campaigns, and their absence today at this ceremony is an extension of their attitude,” said Sara Mumammad, the organization’s Kurdish chairperson, who lives in Sweden. She was the only Kurd at the ceremony.
Shahindal, who took her case to the media after threats by her father who opposed her having a boyfriend and insisted on an arranged marriage, earned support from Kurds like Muhammad, but also was widely opposed by many Kurds for publicizing her case and allegedly tarnishing the image of the Kurdish community among the Swedish public.
Maria Arnholm, Swedish Minister for Gender Equality and Deputy Minister for Education, said in a speech at the ceremony that, “Fadima was killed 11 years ago, we have been struggling for 11 years, we have been educating the youth for 11 years, our struggle to stop a culture of violence against women has been progressing for 11 years.”
The monument is “the culmination of 12 years of struggle,” she said.
After long efforts by activists and especially Hans Richter, the Pope of Human Rights in Sweden, the park was officially named Fadima in 2012.
The Fadima Monument is in the shape of a tree that embodies the hair of Shahindal, whose family is originally from southeastern Turkey. In middle of the tree is a circular mirror.
“Those who watch the mirror become part of the monument, which symbolizes the roles of all the individuals in these events and the culture,” said Hanna Beling, the architect of the monument. “It has been a while since I began thinking about creating a sculpture that would stress on creating a better world. I believe Fadima and her case were applicable to my project.”
Muhammad, meanwhile, spoke proudly about Shahindal, describing her as “a symbol for the bravery of women of our nation.”
“She is not a source of shame as many Kurds believe,” she said. “The monument is named Fadima, but it represents all the victims of honor killings in every culture. Tens of girls and boys are suffering because of this culture.”
The issue of honor killings is widely covered by the Swedish media, due to the large number of Kurdish immigrants in the country, and the incidence of cases like Shahindal’s.
According to Muhammad, “The Kurds in Sweden are part of the honor killing culture. The victims of this culture are not few, among hundreds of such cases and hundreds of nations and groups in Sweden, the Kurds form only one part.”
The monument was deeply meaningful for many of those present at the ceremony.
“This is the beginning of a struggle that will never end,” another women’s rights activist, Saga Lowenlind, said at the ceremony. Lowenlind’s sister-in-law, Mary Barin, was a Kurdish woman who was killed last year by her own brother.
Her brother is now in prison and her father who directed his son to kill Barin escaped and now lives in Kurdistan. Lowenlind joined women’s right activists after the murder of her sister-in-law.
“This monument is an indication to all those who are responsible for the culture of honor killing,” said Lowenlind.