‘Malmö will never be lagom’: Mayor speaks out in rare interview

'Malmö will never be lagom': Mayor speaks out in rare interview
Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfelt Jammeh in front of 'Arbetets ära', a sculpture celebrating the working class's struggle in Möllevångstorget. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfelt Jammeh has called on Swedes to accept that Sweden's third city will never be 'lagom', while accusing those who focus relentlessly on its problems of holding it back.
“Malmö provokes people's feelings. We are never 'lagom',” she told the Sydsvenskan newspaper in a rare profile interview. “You either love us or you hate us.” 
'Lagom', which means roughly “just enough but not too much” is used as a criticism in Sweden as well a compliment, describing something that is boring and unadventurous in a way some feel is typically Swedish. 
Mayor Stjernfeldt Jammeh told the newspaper that she appreciated Malmö's diversity, and sees healing the economic and ethnic segregation it suffers from as her driving goal. 
“I feel such great love for this city,” she said as she surveyed it from a hotel roof near the Central Station. 
Stjernfeldt Jammeh criticized Torbjörn Tegnhammar, leader of the local centre-right Moderate Party, who has accused her of turning a blind eye to Malmö's problems. 
“If you try the whole time to do it down, you end up hampering any positive development. It becomes a downward spiral,” she said. 
She did however acknowledge that the city faces major challenges. 
“The composition of Malmö's population is special. We have taken a huge responsibility for taking in refugees, and we have a lot of people with a low level of education.” 
“A lot of things are going in the right direction. But so long as there are people who don't have a job or who aren't able to support themselves, we wont' be able to say that we've succeeded. There's a lot to do,” she said.

Coming nearly five years after she took over the role of mayor, the interview was the first to see Stjernfeldt Jammeh talk about her upbringing in a well-off family in Trelleborg, Sweden's southernmost town, and her conversion to the Social Democrat cause while studying politics at Lund University. 
The mayor still, however, appeared reluctant to talk much about her two teenage sons and their Gambian father, or to use them to stake a claim to be someone who can speak for both sides of Malmö's segregated society. 
“I'm not comfortable talking about that,” she told the paper. “I'm the one who chose to have a political position, which the family has to deal with. I've tried to make it obvious that it was my choice and not theirs. I'm careful not to expose them more than I have to.” 
But she said that her mixed race family was the target of a lot of online abuse. 
“Even women in powerful positions who aren't married to a man from outside Europe are hit by a whole load of hate and shit,” Stjernfeldt Jammeh said. “It adds another dimension. Racism drives me mad. It's terrible. And that goes back to my driving force as a politician. That we divide people.” 
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Photo: Sigurd Curman/Tekniska Museet/Flickr

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