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Medal campaign for 'hero' Swedish teacher

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Medal campaign for 'hero' Swedish teacher
Teaching assistant Lavin Eskandar who died in the attack. Photo: Private
15:19 CET+01:00
Swedes are rallying behind a Facebook campaign for the teaching assistant killed in the Trollhättan stabbing attack to be awarded a medal. The Local has spoken to the man behind the initiative.
A petition calling on the government and the Swedish Royal Court to award a posthumous medal for bravery to the 20-year-old teaching assistant who was stabbed to death last week is gaining momentum.
 
The idea was first suggested in a public Facebook post by Stockhomer Michael Sigge, 42, on Friday. He later made a public page called 'Give hero Lavin Eskandar a medal', which has been liked and shared thousands of times on social media.
 
"This young guy didn't hesitate for a second to shout to the students to take cover and then to take on this sword-wielding assailant bare-handed," Sigge told The Local.
 
He said that he had wanted to give officials a nudge because he felt "Swedes are generally bad at recognizing truly commendable deeds" due to the Scandinavian tradition of 'jantelagen' or the Jante Law.
 
The concept - which discourages individual achievement and instead encourages collective rewards - was coined by Danish-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose in 1933 but is also deeply ingrained in Swedish culture and society. 
 
"There is too much 'jantelagen' around," said Sigge, who is a member of Sweden's centre-right Moderate party and works in real estate management.
 
"We seem to reward footballers and the like but not those who are truly heroic and selfless.
 
"I have done my military service (...) so maybe I am more attuned than some to the notion of a medal."
 
According to Sigge, officials at the royal palace are already considering his idea, having responded to an email sent by a friend of his to alert them to the campaign.
 
"They replied that they thought the initiative was commendable, but this kind of medal has never been awarded posthumously before."
 
The Stockholmer said he had only once visited Trollhättan in western Sweden and has no connection to Lavin Eskandar's family. But he said he hoped that they would end up coming to the Swedish capital to pick up the medal in what he deemed would be "a symbol of reconciliation for the nation".
 
"The race or creed of this man is immaterial (...) he was just so brave," he explained.
 
Eskandar's brother Leith, 22, described the teaching assistant as "a real, real hero", when speaking to The Local on Friday.
 
He confirmed that Eskandar had given his own life by putting himself in front of pupils at the school, to protect them from the masked attacker who had entered the building while they were having lessons.
 
"We are all destroyed, the whole family is destroyed," he added.
 
Along with Lavin Eskandar, a 17-year-old pupil died in the attack. Two other victims remain in hospital. 
 
The Eskandar family has given The Local permission to publish a photo of their relative.
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