Fashion week

Russian Journalist Mariia Kruglova and Swedish Photographer Erland Segerstedt takes on Umeå Fashion Week.

Now everybody tries to be in fashion. Fashion weeks take place throughout the world. Dancing. Modeling. Vogue. Trend. Style.  So what can we say about fashion week in Umeå? Photos will say by themselfs.


Thousands marched for equal rights

The Swedish Journalist Erik Norbergh is also writing about Umeå Pride. 

Photo: Erik Norbergh. Gauston Kandem 

Photo: Erik Norbergh. Gauston Kandem 

Thousands of people gathered in central Umea on saturday to participate in the annual Pride Parade. The atmoshpere was joyful and people of all ages were represented.

– I am here to celebrate love and the right to love whoever you want, says Morgan Kauppi, who attended the parade with his daughers – Bente, 5 years, and Iseli, two years.

The first Pride Parade was arranged in Umea in 2006. As usual, this year´s parade started in one of the central parks where it also ended after the participants had walked through the central area. Thousands of people took part in the parade, according to the organizers who are reluctant to give a specific number.

– Thousands is no understatement. It felt like more than previous years, Martin Oscarsson, one of the organizers, tells Redex.

Sweden has in different ratings been pronounced as a very gay friendly nation, but in other countries the situation is quite different. 38 year old Gastom Kandem from Kamerun took part in the parade in Umeå. He says he as an openly gay man feels much safer here in Sweden.

– It´s quite different here compared to my country. In Kamerun gays must stay in secret. If someone only suspect that you are gay you are finished, you can be a dead man, he says walking down the street holding a sign with the text ”Newcomers”.


Umea love and support weekend

How you experiance things is an important realisation as a journalist. In this article Russian Journalist Anna Kireeva writes about Pride and Love in Umeå.

Photo: Anna Kireeva

Photo: Anna Kireeva

Coming to Swedish Umea for Barents Press RedEx workshop three Russian journalists understood that it’s also a Pride weekend in town. Have you ever been to Pride? We haven’t and got curious.

First discovery: pride is not only a parade itself. The parade is the final event. Pride is all about love, and, to our huge surprise, not only gay love. It’s a love weekend.

Pride and religion
“Pride can’t avoid a gay wedding ceremony”, - came to our mind, and a couple of curious journalists went to the church. There were several weddings, not gay, though the organizers of drop-in marriage hoped one might happen.

Killing the time, we found the priest .. and were petrified. The priest was a woman! More than that, she was smiling. She was smiling all the time. Once again: a woman priest was smiling. All the time. In the church. When did you smile in Orthodox Church last time? Have you ever seen a smiling priest in the Russian church, in this holy building with a strong smell of thus, very serious mood and thoughts, extremely strict and concentrated expression on faces, and a long bearded priest?

Photo: Anna Kireeva. 

Photo: Anna Kireeva. 

43 years old nice looking woman was been a priest for 15 years.
“Since 2009, when gay marriage became legal, I married off eight couples, most of them were women. But even before 2009 I blessed several gay couples. It’s so nice they can have an opportunity to celebrate their love”, - says Susanna the priest diffusing kindness and softness. Next day she was among other priests on the Parade.

Another surprise came from an Islamic reformer. Born in Central Africa, the gay Islamic believer of uncertain age gives a lecture about gay and Islam. The reformer says God loves all his children, limitations and restrictions, as well as inequality, are human made.

The Parade came as a big surprise. To confess, I was overwhelmed. Thousands of people with colorful flags, families with kids and dogs, people in wheelchairs, representatives of church, various labor unions and political parties, elderly people and students – all gathered in the city park to support gay people in the world.

Photo: Anna Kireeva. Morgan Kauppi and his daughter Bente and Iseli 

Photo: Anna Kireeva. Morgan Kauppi and his daughter Bente and Iseli 

Thousands of smiling people in usual and funny costumes are chatting or dancing on “Raining man”. 
“We are here to celebrate love. My wife is sick today and stayed at home. I am sitting with our kids, so we decided to come here. It is very important for people to have right to love whom they want”, - says Morgan Kauppi, a father of 5 years old Bente and 2 years old Iseli, who are having fun waving the flags.

Two 66 years old friends Ingrid and Malin are in the center of the gathering.
“We came here, because it’s fun - everyone loves and support each other. And of course, coming here is a statement. Not in all countries people have an opportunity and right to love whom they want. That is why it is important for us to come here and express support to gay people in the whole world”, - they say.

The long column full of joy, happy smiles, good mood and lots of love in the air starts to move along the city center, attracting smiles of random strangers.


Political scientist, muslim – and gay

Here Swedish Journalist Bertholof Brännström writes about Akbar Abdul Rasul:

Photo: Bertholof Brännström 

Photo: Bertholof Brännström 

 – Everything is a matter of interpretation, the political scientist and muslim Akbar Abdul Rasul says.

In a conversation about LBTQ-issues in Islam during Umeåpride on Friday, he meant the Qur’an speak about the cases of Lot, well know as Sodoma and Ghomora within the previous revelation. But it belongs to the context, at the same time God describes everything created as excellent part of the creation.

Does God make mistakes?
 – No – the Qur’an describe God as omniscient and omnipotent and we need to divorce the patriarchal interpretation of the text, Akbar says.
 – Allah has created us people and does not condemn us for who we are. We must remember that even if the Qur'an is the word of God has it been interpreted by humans. It’s inspired by Allah, and it stand purely for guidance and justice for mankind

 – The Qur’an assure protection for every oppressed group and so is the LBTQ-community in many places of the world – if God stand for justice, let’s follow it and let God judge on the last day, Akbar says.
Since 12 years he lives in Sweden where he was forced to flee from african Burundi when the threats to homosexuals occurred. Due to the position and privilege his parents had within the society it felt dangerous for him to stay.  Today Akbar Abdul Rasul is an appreciated by controversial voice among Muslims in Sweden and Europe and worldwide .

 – I’m critizised and have even got threats from conservative Muslims, spiritual leaders and supremacist. But I also get a lot of support because I dare to challenge and question the interpreters of the Qur'an by those who have now for to long monopolized the interpretation of the text.
 – I think it belongs to everyone to find their path within God guidance and integrity.

 Are you afraid?
 – It's unpleasant, but I'm not afraid. I have a strong faith and feel safe in it, I cannot be afraid on peoples like me as I bow and submit to Lord of worlds Akbar says.

 He continues:
– I read the text as an heretic within Islam and understood that the holy Qur’an do not call for any political purpose. It is explaining how the political matter and questions was dealt with from Adam to Mohammed and it doesn’t call for any governmental systems.

 The Qur’an is a book with moral values and a story to give hope and assure us on the divine, he says. God loves everyone and of course, justice and judgment will be made by God, we need to continue to address these questions and they are important in such time.





Political scientist and Reformist muslim Akbar Abdul Rasul: “Religion is changing and has been reformed”

Islam and homosexuality. A subject filled with tensions. This is the Russian Journalist Valery Potashovs story about Akbar Abdul Rasul:

Photo: Valery Potashov.  Akbar Abdul Rasul

Photo: Valery Potashov.  Akbar Abdul Rasul

On the eve of a traditional Pride Parade that is being held in Umea, political scientist and refomist muslim from Stockholm Akbar Abdul Rasul gave the lecture on Islam reformation in Umea Folkets Hus. For 12 years living in Sweden Rasul doesn’t hide he’s being a gay and even preaching tolerancy for LGBT among muslims.
“There’s so much islamofobia in the world today. But when they say, that Islam doesn’t give the world nothing, I affirm, what a stupid thing! Islam gave the world mathematics, algebra and even the coffee, that Swedes like to drink and many others things – peoples should google about it. Religion is changing and has been reformed and transformed all the time”, - Rasul said on the lecture in Umea. 

Borned in Africa , with indian heritage and grown up in muslimShia traditions, political scientist believes that Islam is going in a process of reformation , especially in its relation to gays, lesbians and transgender people. Akbar Abdul Rasul doesn’t consider them “God’s mistake”, because God can’t make a mistake.
– God is omniscient and omnipotent.  But these views on the process of reinterpretation withinislam seemed revolutionary even for Sweds, so when we met with progressive muslim after the lecture for the short interview my first question to Akbar Abdul Rasul was does he feel himself as a revolutionary.

I think, I do, but at the same time I’m very humble , because I feel my love to God and respect and know that the last word do not belongs to me , Rasul answered. -  Islam is going trough an hard timedue to many aspects and I believe we have the only way – the way to the reformation. It’s so important to talk about it very carefully and with integrity .
Part of the muslim world has been going trough a very tuff political time, many attack from many side and the text of Islam has fall in hand of the worst peoples, and that why it is important to make a difference by talking about Islam as a religion and a diversity of 1,6 billions of peoples – and the next questions is who speak for islam and represente muslims ? We don’t want to be represented by murders , I choose to be represented with MalalaYousafzai , Tawakul Karman , Benazhir Butho and all these muslims, who are workings towards peace and inclusion in the world – and I consider ISIS to no represente me as they are deviant within the world of Islam – but at the same time , they are using some text witch belongs to the holy book I love , and that why I am talking in order to remind thepeoples that the verses they are claiming and using belongs to arabia context of 7 century and the tuff mission of reforming the peninsula witch was given to Prophet Mohammed – his reform lead the muslims world and Islam to golden ages , but what Isis claim to do lead to deconstruction , so there is no divinity from their side .

Isis are a resolve of frustration , geopolitical crisis and so on , but I believe as muslims we need to stand and taking back the legitimacy of the text we love and cherish.

But the things what you are talking about seems for many people even more radical than Islamic radicalism.
Both are radical. But I’m not calling for the radicalization. I’m only calling for rereading of Koran. When people speak about radicalization they don’t speak about the things that radicalize them. Of course people on the Middle East feel powerless under theinvolvementof some country of the Western imperialism as well , but there is so much beauty in the world that we have tofocus and keep seing – my fellow westerns who work for peace , when people say there is to much islamophobia , I remember my Swedish friend and peoples from the Swedish church who work and support us tremoundously and I rather choose to focus on the beauty .

I’ve noticed that the most of the people on your lecture were Swedes. But what about muslims? Does somebody from them support you?
I feel support from many people. I’m getting a lot of messages from them. But at the same time I’m also getting hate messages from some spiritual leaders. I think they didn’t listen what I’m talking about.  Islam has beengoing a process of rereading from Golden ages to now – with it own tradition of reinterpretations such as Ijtihadbut in modern time, there is many way now to recall Islam for the rights essenceandalso realize that sharia law is a law that has been created trough no valid sources from Islam and added as political islam – we need to talk and defeat it cause it essence standing different for what a compassionate and gracious Lord stay forThis journey has been too long from within – but it has to continue and we will succed -  Inshaalah.

I don’t demand peoples to married Gay in their mosketc – but those who do not accept them as part of God design -  disrespect God creation , and only God has thelast word – ToGod belongs the heaven and Earth .

You’ve got an asylum in Sweden because of your orientation , but are there the things that you’re afraid of even in Sweden?
Of course I’m afraid of my safety because some conservative muslims can threaten me and at the others hand some whites supremacist as well. But I believe in God and I’m not afraid of my life, because my life is not given by any human – I have strong faith to the giver of live .

Two individuals charged with murder of 60 year old woman

The first story of RedEx. A murder in a quiet part of Umeå. This story shows a difference in the editorial team. Would this be a story in Russia?

Photo: Erland Segerstedt The police officer has nothing to do with the story.

Photo: Erland Segerstedt The police officer has nothing to do with the story.

Swedish police has charged two individuals with murder of a 60 year old woman in Umea, a small city in northern Sweden.

The woman was found dead in her apartment on wednesday afternoon. The police picked up two individuals for questioning on thursday and later charged them with suspected murder. It is unclear in what way they know the victim.

– They are not completely unknown to each other, Olle Andersson head of the department for violent crime at the local police office in Umea, told RedEx.
He declined to go in to any further details because that could interfere with the police investigation.
– The investigation is in a very intense and sensible place right now, he said.
The police has conducted a technical analysis of the scene and has questioned several people in the neighborhood.
Interrogations with the two suspects will be held during the weekend.

Editorial comment:

The participants of Redex found that there is a discrepancy in how Swedish and Russian journalist assess a story like this. From the moment when the woman was found dead in her apartment until two people were charged with murder local media outlets in Umeå have covered the case extensively and there has been national coverage as well.

The Russian participants of Redex were surprised of this big media interest of an – in their view – ordinary tragic event. According to them, in Russia a similar incident would have resulted in just a small news item. The reason for this is that murders in Russia are more frequent than in Sweden and a murder would hardly generate any massive news coverage, if there is nothing “extraordinary” about the case, like for example if the victim were to be a famous person in some way.