In 2014, Swedish electronic duo The Knife wrote the theme song to the anti-nationalist cabaret Europa Europa, which toured the world for the next two years. “För alla namn vi inte får använda” was previously only available in Sweden and on YouTube. But as far right political groups have continued to gain power, The Knife have decided to give the track an official release.
“För alla namn vi inte får använda” roughly translates to “For all the names we cannot use.” Via Google Translate and r/Svenska, the lyrics are from the perspective of “illegal immigrants,” though as the song points out, “We can never be illegal.” In a statement, The Knife’s Karin and Olof Dreijer explained why they wrote the song and how it’s meaning has changed over time. They said,
“In 2014 we made music for an anti-nationalist cabaret made by the Swedish art group FUL which toured worldwide between 2014-2016. Since then a lot has changed. Many people who came to Sweden around then, and have lived and worked here during all this time, are now forced to flee this country, since Sweden is deporting people to countries that are extremely unsafe, like Afghanistan.”
As Forbes reported, during the 2015-16 “migrant crisis”, Sweden received more asylum applications per capita than any other European country, ultimately taking in 150,000 asylum seekers. Not all of these applications are successful; since 2000, Sweden has seen a total of 750,000 applications, and about 300,000 have been rejected. Of those, about 30% of people have refused to leave, while Sweden’s bureaucracy is ill-equipped to carry out forced deportations. These migrants live in “parallel societies,” with little access to welfare or jobs. The crisis has corresponded with a rise in gang-related crime.
In response, center-right and center-left politicians have emphasized the need for “legal migration,” while the far left is concerned about the safety of the asylum seekers, and far right extremists have seen a troubling surge in support. The issue was exacerbated after the 2018 general election resulted in a hung parliament, with the nationalist group Sweden Democrats taking votes from the leftist Social Democratic Party and the Moderate Party. The resulting coalition government landed on a haphazard deportation policy that has been criticized from all sides.
Europa Europa writer and director Nasim Aghili said that in 2014, “we wanted to criticize the racist migration policy in Europe during that time.” He added, “We couldn’t even imagine a situation like the one today. The right of asylum is no longer a human right we can all agree upon and support. It’s more important than ever to fight for asylum rights and stop deportations.”
“För alla namn vi inte får använda” comes with a music video directed by Roxy Farhat. It shows men and women of all races, including pregnant women, dancing in unison and holding up their fists in solidarity. Check out the visuals below.
In August, The Knife rolled out a series of 20th anniversary reissues commemorating their first 7″ release.