In Malmö’s concert hall, everything was sold out when the peace priest and the Tibetan people’s spiritual ruler Dalai Lama yesterday began his European tour. 1300 listeners from near and far bought a ticket – for up to 1540 Swedish crowns – to hear him speak of “The Art of Happiness and Peace”.
Despite of jetlag, the 83-year-old Dalai Lama is a good mood and talks to the press before going on stage.
The Swedish newspapers and television stations are most interested in hearing what the spiritual leader thinks about Swedish domestic policy. The local newspaper Sydsvenskan is allowed to ask first: “Your Holiness. We have just had elections in Sweden, and a party with Nazi roots got quite a lot of votes. What do you think about it?” Dalai Lama looks a bit confused, but then says: “I really do not know. But it is my impression that Sweden is a wealthy country, and I admire democracy, freedom and equality”. Now it’s the press’s turn to look confused.
Another media representative asks what the Dalai Lama thinks about the way in which refugees are being treated in Europe. Also in this case, Dalai Lama’s response appears to surprise the questioner. “These desperate people who have come to large numbers in Europe need protection, but when there is peace, they must return home and help build their own countries. They must be offered education, but they should not be permanent in Europe, they should also know that. Europe is for Europeans.”
The press people move a bit in the seats, and a journalist from a radio station whispers that this was not the answer that they had expected…