Once innocence was lost, it could never be regained.
He had thought this on countless occasions. As far as Sweden was concerned, it had begun with the assassination attempt at Drottninggatan right in the middle of the Christmas-shopping rush in Stockholm. Sweden had its first suicide bomber, and the shock waves spread throughout the whole country. What next? Would Sweden become one of those countries whose citizens dared not venture out for fear of terrorist attacks?
No one had been more worried than the prime minister.
“How do we learn to live with this?” he had asked over a glass of cognac late one night in Rosenbad, the government offices in the city center.
There was no clear answer to that.
The consequences had been devastating. Not from a material point of view—physical things could be repaired. However, many emotional and moral values had been shattered. As the newly appointed minister for justice, he had been astonished to see the shaken individuals demanding new laws in order to make society safer, and had treated them with caution. The government party that opposed immigration capitalized on the situation and made one statement after another.
“We have to take a firm approach on the issue of terrorism,” the foreign secretary had said when the government met for the first time after the attack.
As if she were the only one who realized this.
They had all looked hopefully at the new minister for justice,
who had taken up his post only weeks after the terrorist attack in Stockholm.
Sometimes he wondered if they had known what was to come, and had handpicked him for the post. As an alibi. As the only person who could take necessary action without anyone being able to call him a racist. Sweden’s first Muslim minister for justice. A newcomer to the party who had never met any opposition during his short career. Sometimes it sickened him. He knew that he was given preferential treatment because of his ethnic and religious background. Not that he didn’t deserve his success. He had been a brilliant lawyer, and had realized at an early stage that he wanted to devote himself to criminal law. His clients had dubbed him the miracle worker. He wasn’t satisfied with winning; he also demanded redress. He had been fifteen years old when he came to Sweden; now he was forty-five and knew that he would never return to his homeland, Lebanon.
His secretary knocked and stuck her head around the door.
“Säpo called. They’ll be here in half an hour.”
He had been expecting the call. The security service, known as Säpo, wanted to discuss a high-security matter, and Muhammed had made it clear that he wished to take the meeting in person, even though this was not common practice.
“How many of them are coming?”
“And Eden Lundell?”
“She’s coming, too.”
Muhammed felt calmer. “Show them into the large conference room. Tell the others we’ll meet there five minutes beforehand.”