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  • Some native Swedes feel that Sweden's immigration policy is a sociological version of creative destruction: "Out with the old, in with the new." Various ethnic and religious identities have been formed, but Swedish national identity is being lost. If this trend continues, in a few years Malmö will become a city where ethnic Swedes are in the minority.

  • Sweden has become a shattered society. Optimists say that some day a new common historical and cultural context, based on Swedish multiculturalism, will grow. But immigrant riots in Husby, and the jihadist elements growing in major Swedish cities, tell a different story.

  • Officials in Sweden's government say they want immigrants to integrate into the society, but in areas where the majority are immigrants, there is not much society for them to integrate into. There are buildings and traces of a society, but the people who built that society are not around. In many areas where the majority of residents are immigrants and their children, the only identity the community manages to forge is that the area has many social problems.

  • The same racism, although in a different form, that immigrants may face in some parts of society, Swedes are facing in other parts of society -- where the majority are immigrants. However, only one of these racisms gets attention. This attitude, where racism against ethnic Swedes is made invisible, is something that one faces daily in Sweden. Sweden calls itself a "humanitarian superpower," but this humanitarian thoughtfulness is apparently not broad enough to include ethnic Swedes, especially those who once lived in areas where today there are large concentrations of immigrants.

The Swedish government is now preparing a law that will force all Swedish municipalities, against their will, to provide public housing for newly arrived refugees.

Well into the 20th century, Sweden was a homogeneous country, where there were hardly any immigrants. Today, given Sweden's liberal immigration policy, and the rapid and radical demographic developments taking place, Sweden's third largest city, Malmö, is on the way to becoming a city where ethnic Swedes are in minority. Its immigrant population has gone from 27 percent[1] in 1996, to 42% in December 2012.

There are difficulties for immigrants in Sweden, as everywhere, especially in education and the labor market.[2]

What is missing, however, are other views. In areas such as Fosie and Rosengård, where ethnic Swedes are in the minority, they too have been exposed to racism. These range from derogatory terms such as "Svennehora"(Swedish whore) or "Svennebög"(Swedish homosexual), used in the schools to insult children with ethnic Swedish background, to hostile acts. When a soccer club in the immigrant-dominated area Biskopsgården put up a maypole at this year's midsummer celebrations, for example, within 24 hours it was sawed down. In addition, in a form of institutionalized "reverse racism" against Swedes, the city of Malmö has a political goal in which the percentage of municipal employees with an immigrant background must match its proportion of Malmö's total population; 42% of the population of Malmö has an immigrant background, then 42% of the employees of the city of Malmö must have one, too. The result is that the higher the percentage of people with an immigrant background in Malmö, the less likely is it that people with an ethnic Swedish background will be hired for a job in the city administration. [3]

Whatever one may think of these demographic changes or Sweden's liberal immigration policy, some native Swedes may feel that Sweden's immigration policy is a sociological version of creative destruction: "out with the old, in with the new."

A refugee asylum-seeker used a fire extinguisher to attack Sweden's Minister for Justice and Migration, Morgan Johansson (left), while Johansson was visiting the Broby hospital asylum center on March 23, 2015. (Image source: Sveriges Television)

Sweden has always been a country with a liberal immigration policy, but a few issues have arisen that are making the liberal immigration policy problematic.

The Schengen Agreement of 1985, of which Sweden is a signatory, abolished border controls between many European countries, making it possible for people from southern Italy to travel straight to Sweden with no passport controls or identity checks. At the same time, during the last ten years, many European nations, especially the Scandinavian countries around Sweden, have tightened their immigration policy -- a change that makes Sweden's immigration policy even more liberal relative to neighboring countries.

In addition, in 2013 the Swedish immigration office (Migrationsverket) promised to give all Syrian refugees permanent residency in Sweden.

The result is that Sweden has become a shattered society. There are many immigrants searching for an identity, but there is no longer any cultural cohesion. What is being created are communities without any history. In Fosie and Rosengård, for example, demographic changes have been so radical and so fast, that the population has not yet had the time or opportunity to create a common historical or cultural context. One might well ask why there should be one, or if eventually one will naturally form. So many societies, however, especially in the Middle East and parts of Europe, have only seemed to grow more fragmented.

There are those who are optimistic and say that some day a new common historical and cultural context, based on Swedish multiculturalism, will grow. But immigrant riots in Husby, and the jihadist elements growing in major Swedish cities, tell a different story.

Some immigrants actually do find their way into some kind of Swedish identity, which makes them a part of Swedish society. But many immigrants seem only to find other identities, which make them feel like strangers in Sweden.

Officials in Sweden's government say they want immigrants to integrate into Swedish society, but in areas where the majority are immigrants, there is not much society for them to integrate into. There are buildings and traces of a society, but the people who built that society are not around. There is only a historical and cultural vacuum.

If every ethnicity in Sweden creates its own history and culture, somewhere along the line people forget to come together as a country. In many areas where the majority of residents are immigrants and their children, the only identity the community manages to forge is that the area has many social problems.

If you talk with people in areas where the majority are immigrants, many do not see themselves as Swedish. Various ethnic and religious identities have been formed, but Swedish national identity is being lost.

Swedish national identity is rejected by many people with immigrant backgrounds, unlike in the U.S., for example, where American identity is commonly embraced by immigrants, who simply add it to their former culture.[4] To give some idea of the current attitudes against Swedish national identity, consider the comments of Sweden's former Prime Minister (2006-2014), Fredrik Reinfeldt, who after visiting the area of Ronna in Södertälje (where most people have immigrant background), said: "The genuinely Swedish is only barbarism. The rest of the development has come from outside."

This kind of statement from the political establishment -- people in power telling immigrants that Swedish national identity is no good -- is bewilderingly common, and undoubtedly does much to contribute to the reasons people with an immigrant background reject Swedish national identity.

How do ethnic Swedes, in areas where they are in the minority, feel about the new situation? This is the discussion that is not taking place, either in the Swedish media or within the Swedish political establishment.

Any talk of these radical demographic changes is labelled as racist by the Swedish political establishment.

The local communities in Sweden that are losing their history by radical demographic changes are expected to accept these changes and keep silent, or as the old Swedish saying goes: close your fist in your pocket.

When ethnic Swedes are in the minority in certain areas, it means they may face discrimination. But most politicians and media outlets in Sweden are not interested in any discrimination faced by ethnic Swedes where they are a minority.

Reports about ethnic Swedes being harassed in areas where the immigrants are in the majority are not part of the multicultural discourse; immigration is only spoken of as a positive occurrence.

But the same racism, although in a different form, that immigrants may face in some parts of society, Swedes are facing in other parts of society -- where the majority are immigrants. However, only one of these racisms gets attention.

This attitude, where racism against ethnic Swedes is made invisible, is something that one faces daily in Sweden.

When a crime is committed by immigrants, it is considered racist to point out the perpetrator's ethnic background or skin color. But when a crime is committed by an ethnic Swede and the victim is an immigrant, it is important to point out that the perpetrator was "white" or "Swedish." The crime of an ethnic Swede is perceived to be part of a "structural racism." Accepting this double standard is so tightly woven into the structure of society that it is almost impossible even to see. The norms of the society are so strong and embedded, that people are not even aware that they are behaving in a racist way.

When a Muslim woman with a headscarf claimed that she had been beaten in August 2013, "anti-racist" activists[5] -- who claim that only Swedes and Westerners are real racists -- were telling the media that the perpetrators were "white, Swedish men." They also started a "hijab-petition," insisting that prominent Swedish politicians wear the Islamic veil for one day in support of the hijab-petition. In February 2014, the police closed the case because there were no suspects or witnesses to her attack. The police had material, all classified, from several security cameras, but the "white, Swedish men" who, according to the "anti-racists," had carried out the attack were never found. After mosque fires, or assaults on immigrants, "anti-racist" activists often immediately accuse "white, Swedish men," as being the perpetrators, and eventually it turns out that members of other ethnic groups committed the crimes. To put ethnic Swedes through this kind of racial profiling has become completely acceptable.

Although they are not against immigrants, Swedish conservatives want a more restrictive immigration policy, mainly to prevent damage to the social fabric of local communities and cultures, as has happened in areas such as Rosengård and Fosie. Sweden calls itself a "humanitarian superpower," but this humanitarian thoughtfulness is apparently not broad enough to include ethnic Swedes, especially those who once lived in areas where today there are large concentrations of immigrants. Many old Swedish communities and their histories have been lost, and replaced by something that can only be described by the term "ghetto."

Those are the Swedes whose communities were broken and who lost their local history because of Sweden's liberal immigration policy.

There are Swedes who, over a period of 20 years, went from being a part of the majority population to become a minority in the area that they saw as their own. These people do not believe that Sweden's liberal immigration policy is humane. They may feel that Sweden's liberal immigration policy had robbed something from them. If we really all are equals, as an oppressed group whose local communities have been destroyed, their view should also be equal and discussed.

In a country with a population of 9.5 million, it does not take much to cause communities to break down. The radical demographic changes that have been forced on poor neighborhoods such as Fosie and Rosengård are now going to be forced upon the rest of Sweden, whether the people want it or not. A liberal immigration policy may save many people from war and poverty, but it has its victims as well.

Nima Gholam Ali Pour is a columnist for the Swedish social-conservative website Samtiden, and is a member of the board of education in the city of Malmö, Sweden.


[1] Områdesfakta Malmö stadskontor 1996.

[2] In elementary schools, for example, in 2013-2014, 82% percent of students with ethnic Swedish parents completed all subjects after finishing the 9th grade; but among students born in Sweden and with an immigrant background, the number was 70% percent. Among students with an immigrant background but born abroad, the figure was 52 percent. Unemployment among people born in Sweden is 6%, while unemployment among the foreign-born is 16.6 percent.

[3] Sweden has a large public sector, and the city of Malmö has 23,000 employees. This political goal, therefore, makes a difference in many people's lives in a city where the total population is 318,000. In 1996, only 34% of the population of Fosie had immigrant background; in December 2012, 66% percent of Fosie's population had immigrant background. Areas in Malmö have had a similar development. In 1996, 74% of Rosengård's population had an immigrant background; in December 2012, that number had risen to 88%. An immigrant background means that one either was born outside of Sweden or has two parents who were born outside of Sweden.

[4] Beyond the Melting Pot, by Daniel P. Moynihan and Nathan Glazer.

[5] Sweden has an "anti-racist" movement that is very close to the Swedish Social Democrats, The Left Party and The Green Party. Many board members in the anti-racist movement are prominent members in these three parties. The anti-racist movement also works as a channel between these three parties and immigrants' and religious organizations that are part of the anti-racist movement. Mostly the Swedish ant-racist movement uses "post-colonial rhetoric," which means that they try to say that Swedes or Westerners are racists because Swedish and Western culture has always been racist and must be deconstructed.

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