My heart is broken to loose someone so special. Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou to a Greek-Cypriot family in suburban north London, Michael had signed a record contract and released his first single by the time he was She told the Guardian Michael had always been a perfectionist.
Infuriating for us, but what a star. In his career he sold more than m albums in total. But in the early 90s a bitter dispute with his record company, Sony, coincided with private tragedy when Anselmo Feleppa, the long-term partner he had been unable publicly to acknowledge, died from an Aids-related illness. Despite the circumstances, he was unapologetic about his sexuality, and remained an outspoken advocate of gay rights and gay sexuality for the rest of his life.
His donations contributed to a vision of a world where people living with HIV live healthy lives free from prejudice and discrimination. Always more political than his early public image suggested, Michael played a free gig for NHS nurses to thank them for caring for his mother, and supported causes including the striking miners, Palestine and the homeless. Other instances of his generosity emerged after his death. But he refused to be apologetic about his prodigious marijuana use and resisted attempts to cast him as a tragic figure following a number of drug-related arrests, one of which resulted in a short jail sentence after he crashed his car into a shop in north London.
Michael almost died in after falling ill with pneumonia while on tour in Germany. He was taken to hospital with head injuries in after falling out of his moving car on the M1, and again with an undisclosed illness a year later. The singer had several plans for He had been working on a documentary about his life, entitled Freedom , due to be released in March along with a reissue of his album Listen Without Prejudice.
Fadi Fawaz fadifawaz ITs a xmas i will never forget finding your partner dead peacefully in bed first thing in the morning.. I will never stop missing you xx December 26, Fawaz told the Daily Telegraph: Andrew Ridgeley ajridgeley God didn't give it, you did my old friend.
Elton John eltonofficial I am in deep shock. Shirlie Kemp Shirliekemp Words can not express how sad we all are, only last week I saw him laughing and happy. December 26, Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou to a Greek-Cypriot family in suburban north London, Michael had signed a record contract and released his first single by the time he was Two rows of white tents had been set up in the parking lot to house those for whom no other shelter could be found.
Hundreds of refugees had been put in hotels a short walk down the highway, and still more in an auditorium near the station.
When the refugee crisis began last summer, about 1, people were coming to Sweden every week seeking asylum. By August, the number had doubled. In September, it doubled again. In October, it hit 10, a week, and stayed there even as the weather grew colder. A nation of 9.
Catch Me If You Can: That afternoon, in the cafeteria in the back of the Migration Agency building, I met with Karima Abou-Gabal, an agency official responsible for the orderly flow of people into and out of Malmo. I asked where the new refugees would go. In Malmo itself, the tents were full. So, too, the auditorium and hotels. Sweden had, at that very moment, reached the limits of its absorptive capacity. Vast numbers of asylum-seekers had been pouring into Sweden both because officials put no obstacles in their way and because the Swedes were far more generous to newcomers than were other European countries.
The vast migration of desperate souls from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere has posed a moral test the likes of which Europe has not faced since the Nazis forced millions from their homes in search of refuge. Europe has failed that test. Germany, acutely aware that it was the author of that last great refugee crisis, has taken in the overwhelming fraction of the 1 million asylum-seekers who have reached Europe over the past 18 months. Her policy of generosity is now being openly attacked by her own ministers. Most of Europe, and much of the world, has, as Wallstrom feared, turned its back.
The ethnically homogeneous nations of Eastern Europe have refused to take any refugees at all; Hungary, their standard-bearer on this issue, has built fences along its borders to keep refugees from even passing through. Balkan countries, by contrast, helped migrants pass through their territories to the West — until mid-November, when they collectively began blocking asylum-seekers who did not hail from Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan. England has agreed to take only those refugees arriving directly on its shores from the Middle East.
And then there is Sweden, a country that prides itself on generosity to strangers. Augusto Pinochet, and Eritreans fleeing forced conscription. Accepting refugees is part of what it means to be Swedish. Yet what Margot Wallstrom meant, and what turned out to be true, was that Germany, Sweden, Austria, and a few others could not absorb the massive flow on their own.
The refugee crisis could, with immense effort and courage, have been a collective triumph for Europe. Instead, it has become a collective failure. This is the story of the exorbitant, and ultimately intolerable, cost that Sweden has paid for its unshared idealism. Stockholm residents take part in a candle light vigil to show their solidarity with refugees on Sept.
World War II created 40 million refugees.
Many who made the treacherous journeys from the shattered cities and villages of Central and Eastern Europe were treated humanely; others, including many Jews, were sent back to their homelands, often to their death. When Europe reconstituted itself in the aftermath of the war, the obligation to accept refugees was embedded in such core documents as the Convention on Human Rights, the Refugee Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
High Commissioner for Refugees were founded to ensure that states honored those commitments. The right to refuge was understood as a universal principle that all civilized states would honor; Europeans made good on this pledge when they welcomed hundreds of thousands who fled from Communist oppression in Eastern Europe. The United States, for its part, accepted nearly half a million people who fled Vietnam after the South fell in Par Frohnert, coeditor of a book on Swedish refugee policy whose English translation is titled Reaching a State of Hope , says that while Sweden jealously guarded its ethnic homogeneity through the s, in the country began admitting Norwegians fleeing the Nazis.
Then came Estonians and other Balts, and then Danish Jews. As Sweden began to build its social democratic state after the war, the ready acceptance of refugees became a symbol of the national commitment to moral principle. Sweden built a system designed to deliver to refugees the same extensive social benefits that Swedes gave themselves — housing, health care, high-quality education, maternal leave, and unemployment insurance.
More than , former Yugoslavs, mainly Bosnians, came in the s. By that time, Sweden was taking about 40, refugees a year. Somali refugees practice the winter sport of Bandy on Sept. The system worked — or at least that was the Swedish consensus. There were neo-Nazis marching in the streets. The economy was at the lowest point since the s. Pelling was confident that the new wave of Syrians, Iraqis, and the like would do just as well. It seemed almost impolite to point out that, on average, the Bosnians were better educated than the newcomers are, and practice a more moderate version of Islam. Sweden is the only country I have spent time in where the average person seems to be more idealistic than I am.
Solicitous volunteers waited to help asylum-seekers at the central train station in Stockholm even though virtually all refugees were being processed in Malmo — where the Red Cross operated a far larger set-up behind the train station. Everyone seemed calm, cheerful, organized. When I worried out loud that the country was racing off a cliff, I would be reassured that Sweden has done this before and that somehow or other it would do it again.
It was a given that Sweden had benefited from its commitment to providing shelter to those in need. Yet the past may be a poor guide to the present. The , asylum-seekers who came to Sweden last year is double the number it has ever accepted before. I met many critics who were prepared to raise impolite questions about whether Sweden could afford to lavish generous benefits on so large a population, whether it could integrate so many new arrivals with low levels of skills, whether a progressive and extremely secular country could socialize a generation of conservative Muslim newcomers.
And that was before Cologne. How would they behave in the virtual absence of young Afghan women? But she could barely raise these questions in political debate. In the weeks before I arrived in Sweden, the government had begun making modest adjustments to its refugee policy. This had no effect on refugee numbers, though it did have the bureaucratic virtue of channeling virtually everyone through Malmo, the first city in Sweden that anyone arriving by car or train from Denmark would reach. The refugees were greeted in Hyllie, the first station across the Danish border, by several dozen border police officials, unarmed, male and female, flawlessly proficient in English, and exceptionally polite.
There, the refugees were escorted upstairs to a line of waiting buses, which took them to the Migration Agency office in Malmo. The office is staffed by squads of helpful young people, as well as translators who speak Arabic, Dari, Pashto, Somali, and Tigre — the chief language of Eritrea. Nervous refugees brandished crumpled papers at anyone who looked official. Edo was a Yazidi from Mosul. The Yazidis practice a syncretic faith that the Islamic State regards as a heresy far worse than Judaism or Christianity. When the Islamic State extremists reached the area in June , they began systematically killing Yazidi men and raping and enslaving women.
Edo, his wife, and his three small children raced out of town, and then trudged 50 miles north to Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan. Krit persuaded them to come to Sweden. When I arrived at the migration office a little past noon, odd people stood on a line that snaked outside the building in order to be interviewed, while another asylum-seekers stood or sat inside, waiting to be assigned a bed for the night.
Some recent arrivals had to wait a day or two — but no longer — to be processed. The atmosphere in Malmo, by contrast, was remarkably calm and quiet. The Swedes were efficient and extraordinarily protective of their charges; I had had to wear down several officials just to gain the right to talk to refugees, whose privacy they feared I would violate. The interview line moved smartly.
Officials had abandoned an earlier effort to gain background information about applicants; now interviewers simply asked their name, date of birth, and home country, and took a photograph and a set of fingerprints. From there the refugees would be sent to a temporary facility in Malmo until long-term space opened up, a period which had stretched to as long as two weeks.
At that point they would be sent to a converted hotel, dormitory, sports facility, or barracks somewhere in Sweden to wait for adjudication of their application for asylum.
Karima Abou-Gabal of the Migration Agency told me that they had begun sending asylees to Boden, in the remote north. Nevertheless, Sweden has promised to take care of every refugee while their application for asylum is pending; the backlog has grown to a point that that process can take over a year.
Refugees play outside a shelter in Sundbyberg, northwest of Stockholm, on Oct. The Swedish Migration Agency is responsible for deciding who does and does not receive asylum. The agency assumes that anyone fleeing Syria has a well-founded fear of persecution or death, and thus automatically accepts such applications. Large majorities of Iraqis and Afghans are also accepted. Sweden does not take economic migrants; for this reason, authorities deny almost all migrants from Albania or Kosovo.
At the same time, Sweden has made only the most modest efforts to ensure that rejected applicants actually leave. Many — no one seems to know how many — remain, living in the shadows. That may now change. People like Diana Janse believe that Sweden must find the hardness of heart to carry out such orders, if it is to care well for those who remain.
Sweden has traditionally interpreted the standards for asylum far more liberally than most of its neighbors have. Since , Sweden has accepted those fleeing persecution by nonstate actors as well as governments, and has permitted all asylees to bring in a wide range of family members. This rule, too, has recently been tightened. The Migration Agency accepts applications from thousands of people from Eritrea, a nation that is autocratic but currently peaceful.
When I asked Pierre Karatzian, a spokesman for the Migration Agency, why Eritreans qualified, he said that many Eritreans flee the country rather than face the draft; if Sweden returns them, they will face arrest. I was told that Eritrean embassies track down citizens abroad and demand payment. The system guarantees a perpetual flow of Eritreans. Afghanistan poses a particularly thorny problem.
Afghans have lately swelled the great river of refuge-seekers. The country is so profoundly insecure that many of its 32 million citizens might have a colorable claim to asylum. Germany, terrified at the prospect of new millions on the march, has said that it will not grant asylum to those from relatively safe parts of Afghanistan; it now accepts slightly less than half of Afghan applicants. By the end of , far more Afghans than Iraqis were applying for asylum in Sweden; many were unaccompanied minors, placing them in a specially protected category. Sweden has extraordinary laws protecting minors: Swedish Red Cross members wait to welcome refugees in Malmo central station, on Sept.
While I was in Malmo I paid several visits to a huddle of trailers just behind the central train station, where the Red Cross had set up a welcome center for minors. One of the volunteers was a Farsi-speaking Iranian who served as a translator for the Afghans. Most of them, he said, had grown up in northeastern Iran, to which their families had fled in recent years in order to escape the violence in Afghanistan. There they lived as stateless people, generally unable to find jobs or go to school. Lisa Pelling, the refugee advocate, had told me that Iran forced the Afghans to serve in the war in Syria.
Others repeated this story. Nevertheless, a recent report from Human Rights Watch concludes that Iran has paid some migrants to fight in Syria, and has threatened others with deportation if they did not agree to do so. Whether from Afghanistan or Iran, these were still children who had experienced a world of suffering. Some of them, however, were certainly not minors. Since they arrived without documents, officials simply accepted their word for their age.