How did Stieg get involved with combating right-wing extremism? It comes from his childhood. He was into this when I met him, as he told me that his maternal grandfather was interned during the Second World War (we had some camps for people in Sweden…who were staunch anti-Nazis). Then, in 1983, when he was close to 30, Stieg started to write for Searchlight, the British anti-fascist magazine, and this later developed into his launching a Swedish version of Searchlight, which became Expo in 1995.
Were you ever threatened? When you do something for a long time and you have a high profile, you become the target. There were mainly phone threats. We couldn’t identify who was calling, but it was obvious in 1992 and 1993 when the White Aryan Resistance Movement in Sweden published in their magazine, Storm, specific details about Stieg…with an open declaration to have him removed from this earth.
Is that why you never married? To avoid detection? Yes. They could never find out about our relationship. They thought he was gay because he was registered as unmarried in the public record. So it worked, although he was targeted at the office. In one instance, they were waiting for him outside, but someone tipped him off and he slipped out the back door.
What gave rise to these extremist groups in Europe? It was the asylum seekers that caught their attention. Many of them couldn’t read or write even, but they managed to get here anyway, traveling across the mountains from Iraq or Turkey by foot. Some were 14 years old, but they made it. They may not have been educated, but at least they had some stamina and entrepreneurship, which we should have nurtured here in Sweden, but what do you do when there is rising unemployment? The global economy was shifting to Asia, and we started to lose our heavy industries.
Are these groups particularly targeting Muslims? They have the rest of us on their list as well. Have you read Anders Breivik’s manifesto? He isn’t targeting Muslims, he’s targeting the state and his goal is to destabilize all the states of Europe to make a coup d’état and grab power and establish some weird society that to me looks very much like the Fourth Reich. It’s horrible.
Is that indicative of a shift in the movement? He is definitely part of an ideological and political current that has been saying things like this at least since the 1990s. In that respect he’s certainly not a lone lunatic.
Is this sort of right-wing extremism worse in Sweden or in Norway, where the recent shootings occurred? We’ve had much worse people in Sweden and much more violence. We had ones who were able to finance right-wing extremism through…Nazi bands and record companies. We saw racist assaults and brutal killings of gay men from the 1980s onward. It wasn’t until 1999 when Swedish authorities woke up and realized that these people had a political agenda. But this violence had been obvious for over 25 years, and in the meantime, Stieg and I had to arrange our own security because we couldn’t get anything that worked well from society.