Friday, 13 January 2017

The Malmo Cafe

[Media prompt] After a pair of Syrian men were taken in as refugees, liberal volunteers helped them open their own business — a Middle Eastern hookah shop. However, as soon as authorities came to inspect the suspicious business, they discovered a stomach-churning surprise in the shop’s basement ... Fria Tider reports that after Swedish police raided a hookah cafe managed by 2 Syrian Muslim refugees, 28-year-old Khaled Azez Hegrs and 23-year-old Tareq Bakkar, they discovered a kidnapped Swedish woman chained in the shop’s basement. The brutalized victim was being kept as their own personal sex slave and had been repeatedly raped and tortured by at least 7 Arab Muslim men.
The Malmo Cafe

Tareq, wanting to tell his friend Khaled about the beautiful thing he had found, ran ten blocks against a cold northwesterly so he could say it before it burst out unintentionally. The damp evening wind from the North Sea had turned to snow and his feet ached from running across the flagstones in the church square. When he got to the café, he saw Khaled had forgotten to turn off the neon sign, which blinked red and green in the unlit windows across the street. There would be complaints in the morning again, anonymous emails to authorities accusing them of leaving it on deliberately. But it was Arabs they objected to, not the café or flashing lights. Tareq knew that, just as he knew nobody important cared any more about what white racists said. The street would soon be like home, and after his street all of Malmo. And by then it would be too late to complain. Tareq fumbled for his keys. 

Inside, the warmth pricked at his cheeks. He worked his way in the dark between tables and chairs to the counter, then slid back the curtain to the basement staircase. A pool of light gathered on the floor at the bottom, seeping from under the door. Tareq pulled the curtain shut behind him, pausing to smooth his hair made unruly by the wind, combing down the side parting with his thick fingers. Then, the beautiful thing welling up inside him, he started down the stairs, taking the wooden steps two at a time, calling softly in Arabic, “Khaled, you can’t believe this thing I’ve found.”

❖❖❖

Meja had been dead for six months, more a series of half-remembered anecdotes than any remembrance of her corporeal being, when Tareq and Khaled were released from custody. Linnea and Olle’s team had methodically and calmly chipped away at the prosecution’s case, appealing to the jury’s fear of being labelled white nationalists. In the end, it all turned on a psychologist’s expert testimony that Meja may have been a willing participant in a role play that went wrong. The jury agreed, and took less than five minutes to acquit the pair. 

“See,” Linnea said, when it was all over, “it’s almost impossible for a Muslim to get justice in this racist hell hole.”

That evening they celebrated in the basement where Meja had died, the red and green neon light blinking softly in the long twilight. Khaled showed Olle where he had drilled the bolt hole in the wall for Meja’s throat chain. It had been plastered over, but as he ran his hand over the freshly painted wall Olle could feel a slight indent. 

“Next time,” he said, taking a sip from this glass, “you invite me, okay?”

Khaled nodded and smiled. Sweden was so welcoming to refugees. 

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