In a matter of days, a woman named Tess Asplund has become a hero to many around the world.
Standing at just 5 ft 3 in, Asplund stood in front of 300 Neo Nazi protestors during the group’s rally in Sweden. Photographer David Lagerlof captured her as she pumped her fist and stood her ground against deep racist sentiments in her home country.
According to TheGuardian.com
Asplund’s lone protest comes at a time when the far-right in Sweden is increasing its activities, according to Daniel Poohl of Expo, the anti-racist foundation in Stockholm, whose photographer David Lagerlöf captured the image.
The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party polls between 15% and 20% and holds the balance of power in parliament, while racist sentiments are fuelled by a fragmented landscape of internet hate sites. The avowedly antisemitic National Socialists of the NRM are the extreme wing of this spectrum, Poohl says.
“We live in a Europe where far-right ideas are becoming more popular, and there is also a reaction against them. It is a time when people are longing for something to channel their urge to resist the Europe that builds borders against refugees, the Europe that cannot cooperate any more. Tess has captured one of the conflicts of our time,” he said.
The Guardian also spoke to Asplund who says her protest was completely spontaneous.
“It was an impulse. I was so angry, I just went out into the street,” Asplund told the Guardian. “I was thinking: hell no, they can’t march here! I had this adrenaline. No Nazi is going to march here, it’s not okay.”
“Now it’s a circus. I am in shock. The Nazis are very angry, so I am a little ‘Oh shit, maybe I shouldn’t have done that, I want peace and quiet.’ These guys are big and crazy. It’s a mixed feeling, but I am trying to stay calm.”
“Racism has been normalised in Sweden, it’s become okay to say the N-word,” she says, recounting how a man on the subway used the racial slur while shouting and telling her to hurry up. “But nobody paid any attention. I thought Sweden in 2016 would be more open minded, but something has happened,” Asplund says.
“I hope something positive will come out of the picture. Maybe what I did can be a symbol that we can do something – if one person can do it, anyone can.”
Tess we salute you and we stand with you!