Mourners seek lessons from Ibrahim murder

Mourners seek lessons from Ibrahim murder
The day after his funeral, friends and family of Ahmed Ibrahim are still wondering why the 23-year-old was stabbed to death in a Stockholm suburb and why the case has drawn such limited attention.

Ibrahim died of knife wounds suffered in the early hours of Saturday, October 18th, his body dumped from a black Audi in front of Karolinska University Hospital.

Two other victims were stabbed in what police are calling a brawl which erupted in the Stockholm suburb of Kista.

Seven suspects ages 16 to 25 are in custody as police continue their efforts to piece together the events which led to Ibrahim’s stabbing.

“We still don’t know why it happened or why it ended so tragically. The suspects have told us what they were up to, but each one remembers things differently,” said police spokesperson Mona Johansson to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Those who knew Ibrahim, a skilled footballer who played for Djibouti’s national side, are at a loss to explain how the popular figure from Stockholm’s predominantly immigrant suburb of Husby, known affectionately as “Romario” in honour of the Brazilian star, died under such tragic circumstances.

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not even the guys that murdered him wanted to kill him, that’s why they drove him to the hospital,” said Abdulkadir Kasim to the Aftonbladet newspaper following Ibrahim’s funeral, which drew around 1,000 mourners to the Råcksta cemetery northwest of Stockholm.

Childhood friend Arian Albazi also remembers Ibrahim warmly, and is puzzled as to why his case hasn’t received the same attention as the October 2007 beating death of 16-year-old Riccardo Campogiani.

The Campogiani case was headline news for weeks, sparking massive demonstrations in Stockholm as well as a nation-wide debate about how to address youth violence.

And while Ibrahim’s case has received more media attention than many other stabbing deaths, Albazi wonders if his late-friend’s immigrant background might have devalued Ibrahim’s death relative to Campogiani’s, who hailed from the posh Östermalm district of central Stockholm.

“There were big headlines back then,” he told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, referring to the time of Campogiani’s death.

“Why? Aren’t all young people’s lives of equal value, regardless of where they live? Every time a young person loses his life in this way, the media ought to stress its importance so that politicians understand that you can’t keep cutting back on funds for children’s and youth activities in absurdum.”

Another childhood friend, Paolo Noscimento, echoed Albazi’s sentiment that the loss of Ibrahim should serve as a wake-up call about the need for sufficient funding and quality teachers in area schools.

“Politicians need to understand that schools need more resources. And most of all they need teachers like we had, who dared to take off their gloves, who taught us discipline, who were engaged and unafraid,” he told the DN.

Said Ali, who played on the Atletico Husby football team with Ibrahim, emphasized the scope of his friend’s loss.

“He wasn’t just taken away from his family, or Husby, but he was taken away from a whole generation,” he told Aftonbladet.

Despite the low-level of attention Ibrahim’s case has garnered in the press thus far, his teammates and friends are vowing to honour their slain companion’s memory by arranging an anti-violence demonstration as well as a memorial football tournament.

Nevertheless, Ace Billefält, an administrator from the Reactor youth centre in Husby, says that many members of the community are sceptical as to whether the tragedy of Ahmed Ibrahim will generate the same kind of attention as Campogiani.

“They’re asking themselves whether anyone will care. Or whether it’s simply the case that out here people like Romario can die without society getting engaged or even taking notice,” he told SvD.