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World Stockholm Riots Throw Spotlight On Swedish Inequality

spnadmin

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Stockholm riots throw spotlight on Swedish inequality

By Stephen Evans


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22650267


It's hard to discern a pattern in the violence that has wracked the Swedish capital Stockholm for five nights.

Rioting in the city's suburbs has raised the national debate about immigration, unemployment and social inequality.

The cars attacked in the violence are not high-end - not the BMWs and Porsches you might expect to see torched by class warriors - but the vans which ordinary people need to go about their business.

Schools, a station and a library have been attacked as well as a bank and a police station.

In the areas affected, local people said the motive of the youths making trouble was anger over joblessness.

Some said it was simply a matter of criminality and parents were to blame for not controlling their offspring better.

There was a widespread assertion that the violence was not motivated by Islamist ideology.

There does seem to be a particular Swedish problem - the country had a reputation for generosity and an especially welcoming attitude but now something is clearly going wrong”

The police were not intervening aggressively. They told the BBC that they had made a decision to liaise with community leaders - including in mosques - to try to calm the situation.

Fatal shooting

Despite the assertion, some local people said the police had been heavy-handed and there is clearly much anger at the shooting dead by police of an elderly man wielding a knife 10 days ago.

Many said there was a wider context of a growing gap between rich and poor in Sweden.

On OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) figures, Sweden has seen the biggest increase in inequality of any developed country over the past 25 years.

Immigrants and their descendants tend to congregate in areas such as Husby, the neighbourhood west of Stockholm where the violence started on Sunday.

About 80% of the 11,000 residents are either first- or second-generation immigrants.

Accordingly, this week's troubles have raised the volume of the debate in Sweden on immigration. About 15% of the population was born outside the country, the highest proportion in any of the Nordic countries.

The influx has come mostly from war-torn countries like Iraq, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Syria. In 2012, Sweden accepted 44,000 asylum seekers, up by nearly 50% from a year earlier.
Firemen extinguish blaze at nursery school in Stockholm suburb of Kista. 24 May 2013 A nursery school in Kista was among buildings set alight by youths

The rise of the right-wing Sweden Democrats party, which has called for a curfew in response to the violence, has polarised Swedes. The polls show most people still favour immigration though the majority is diminishing.

The Swedish riots have similarities with those in London two years ago and in Paris in 2005 - an incident triggered widespread attacks on property, although there is no evidence of looting in Stockholm as there was in London.

But there does seem to be a particular Swedish problem. The country had a reputation for generosity and an especially welcoming attitude but now something is clearly going wrong.

Aje Carlbom, a social anthropologist at Malmo University, said the government needed to accept that immigrants arriving without an adequate education were likely to remain unemployed.

He said: "Maybe a lot of money should be invested in second- and third-generation immigrants, to make sure they learn Swedish. The parents' generation, I think, unfortunately, is probably a lost cause in terms of integration."

The difficulty is that Sweden has always been perceived as a high-spending country, with generous provisions for education and social help.

It is not any more the Sweden we all thought we knew.
 

spnadmin

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This development took me by surprise... so more background posted.


Stockholm restaurant torched as riots spread


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22636288

A fourth night of unprecedented riots in Stockholm has seen unrest spread, with a restaurant and up to 40 cars burnt, police told the BBC.

Three police officers were hurt as rioters threw stones and directed laser pointers at emergency services.

The unrest began on Sunday in the deprived, largely immigrant suburb of Husby, to the north-west of the city.

Days earlier the police had shot dead an elderly man who had allegedly threatened to kill them with a machete.

We have never had this kind of riots before in Stockholm, not this amount of riots and not this number of hot areas”

Kjell Lindgren Stockholm police spokesman

The worst of the latest rioting has been in the south of the city.

Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said the rioters were a "mixture of every kind of people".

Activists in the Husby area have accused police of racist behaviour - an accusation greeted with scepticism by the police themselves.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has said everybody must take responsibility for restoring calm in Stockholm.

"It's important to remember that burning your neighbour's car is not an example of freedom of speech, it's hooliganism," he said on Wednesday.
Laser pointers

It is unclear how many cars have been burnt since Sunday as a result of the rioting, Mr Lindgren told the BBC.

But on Wednesday night 10 attacks were reported in the north-western suburbs while between 20 and 30 were burnt in southern parts of Stockholm.

Firefighters struggled to contain the fire at the restaurant in the southern suburb of Skogas, where young people pelted them with stones, the spokesman said.

Groups of rioters, as small as five people and as large as 100, have been seen this week, Mr Lindgren said.

They have typically waited for emergency services to attend a fire before attacking them.

Green laser pointers have also been shone in the eyes of the emergency services, according to Mr Lindgren.

No arrests were made on Wednesday night because the police's priority was to disperse mobs and ensure access to fires for the fire brigade, he said. Overall, five people have been arrested since Sunday.
'Very young people'

The Stockholm police spokesman said rioting had occurred in both deprived parts of the city and parts that would be considered "normal".

"My colleagues say the people on the streets are a mixture of every kind of people you can think of," he added.

"We have got Swedes, we have got very young people, we have got people aged 30 to 35. You can't define them as a group.

"We don't know why they are doing this. There is no answer to it."

In Husby, more than 80% of the 12,000 or so inhabitants are from an immigrant background, and most are from Turkey, the Middle East and Somalia.

Rami al-Khamisi, a law student and founder of the youth organisation Megafonen, told the Swedish edition of online newspaper The Local this week that he had been insulted racially by police. Teenagers, he said, had been called "monkeys", fuelling resentment.

The Stockholm police spokesman said he was aware that prosecutors were investigating complaints, and the behaviour of one police officer in particular.

But he added that he could "hardly believe" all the complaints being made were true.

"We have never had this kind of riots before in Stockholm, not this amount of riots and not this number of hot areas," said Mr Lindgren.
 

spnadmin

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Updated

Sweden shaken as riots continue in immigrant suburbs


http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/05/25/sweden-riots-violence/2360211/


STOCKHOLM — Days of rioting have left Sweden searching for answers, wondering what went wrong in a nation welcoming of foreigners and proud of its tradition of tolerance and social equality.

It has also spurred a debate about the underlying causes, with some Swedes blaming the perpetrators for failing to integrate and other residents of these suburbs complaining they have been forgotten by mainstream society.

The violence that erupted May 19 followed a police shooting of a 69-year-old man who, police say, was waving a machete as officers attempted to search his home in the largely immigrant enclave of Husby, a Stockholm suburb. The torching of cars and buildings, and attacks on police in multiple districts in the capital have shocked Swedes unused to such mass violence.

"This has shaken Sweden," said Peter Kadhammar, who covers immigration and integration issues for Swedish daily Aftonbladet. "Of course, everyone has been aware of the massive failures in the immigrant policies, but this has shaken Sweden because the violence was so widespread."

Swedish newspapers report more than 100 cars have been set on fire since the riots began and dozens of buildings — including schools, stores and a police station — have also been torched.

The unrest in poor, immigrant suburbs is the latest to break out in Europe over the past decade following riots in Paris in 2005 and in London in 2011. Analysts say they have much in common.

"The groups that are involved are some of the most economically deprived groups within society," said Matthew Goodwin, associate professor at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham.

"Whether it's the young black males in London who suffer from the highest unemployment rates of all sections of society or the young migrants on the outskirts of Paris who again are blighted by very high levels of unemployment and very low levels of formal education, a perceived sense of injustice marked the disturbances much in the same way that riots in Los Angeles or in London were sparked by police action," Goodwin said.

In Tensta, one of the Stockholm suburbs hit by rioting, the common complaint by young men gathered on the street was a lack of employment opportunities and activities for youth, along with police violence and racism, and a general feeling that no one cares.

"I don't think it's a good situation these days and it hasn't been good for several years," said Homa Badpa, a second-generation Swede of Iranian descent and spokesman for local organization Pantrarna. "Police are blaming groups like us for not saying 'stop.' But how can you say 'stop' to the kids who protest? They are trying to make their voices heard, and this is the only way to do this in Sweden right now."

Pantrarna is an organization working with community youth that took its name from the U.S. Black Panther Party, a group known for its militancy.

"It's bad and I'm not happy about it," Badpa added, referring to the riots. "But the prime minister is talking about this issue (of neglect) right now, and that only started after they burned the cars."

Some blame the violence on the Swedish government: Administrations in the past two decades have been slowly dismantling the cradle-to-grave welfare benefit system known as the "Swedish model." As a result, rising income inequality is hitting young and immigrant populations hard: Unemployment is running at 16% among residents of foreign origin and 7% for the general population.

While Stockholm is one of the world's richest cities, it is also segregated, locals say. In the suburbs engulfed in the rioting, most of the residents are of non-Swedish origin, mainly from Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Somalia.

"In segregated areas, many are disappointed about their future prospects," said Eva Andersson, co-author of a new study called "Segregation and Urban Unrest in Sweden" by the universities of Stockholm and Uppsala. "You don't perceive the society as supportive, rather the opposite."

Sweden has been traditionally welcoming of refugees and 15% of residents in the country are foreign-born, one of the highest ratios in Europe. But over the past two decades, Swedes have been increasingly worried about immigrants failing to integrate and the cost to the state in benefits. This concern has spurred the success of the anti-immigrant far right party, the Sweden Democrats, which won enough votes to enter parliament for the first time in 2010 and is polling in third place ahead of elections next year.

"Sweden is going through something of a transition," Goodwin said. "It has seen the rise of explicitly anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim political movement. ... It is symptomatic of a view within a section of Swedish society not only concerned with immigration and the speed at which society is changing but also anxious at the unwillingness of mainstream parties to curb it or stop it altogether."

Other Swedes blame local society.

"Sweden is not a racist country but until quite recently it was a farmer country where people just came into the cities from the woods … it is an inward-looking country in many ways," Kadhammar said. "It's extremely difficult to come from another country and get into the Swedish society."

"We (have become) an immigrant country de facto today … but our systems are perhaps not made for an immigrant society," he added. "And sometimes I think maybe we have to change our society, some laws, in an American way."

spnadmin note: Maybe someone can explain where the last thought came from? I thought the US could do nothing right. :whatzpointkudi:
 
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Tejwant Singh

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On a side note, there was a segment on "60 Minutes" last Sunday which showed the plight of Afghani kids all over Europe. The interesting part was that Sweden was the only country who opened her doors for them and gave them asylum, boarding and schooling, whereas other countries like UK etc refused to do the same.
 
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spnadmin

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Tejwant ji

I did not see that program and now wish that I had. After reflecting on all the stories this week, nothing seems more obvious to me than the mistake of looking for the one, single explanation for problems facing us. One word however hangs over like a cloud - Despair. It would do the world a lot of good to make a list, an exhaustive list, of why there is so much despair. I think then it would be clear that there is no simple solution or cure. A very complicated set of issues are being played out all over the world.

Silver bullet theories/solutions are irresistible; but they only heap animosity on top of animosity. Can they be resisted?

Sweden as a nation appears to try consciously to do things right! To place great stock in the perfectibility of human nature. Then we read this story. The moral I draw is that pieces of the puzzle have been either been ignored or misunderstood on a global level. Voices in the article seem to express a conscious desire to do that kind of rethinking.
 

kds1980

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Sweden as a nation appears to try consciously to do things right! To place great stock in the perfectibility of human nature. Then we read this story. The moral I draw is that pieces of the puzzle have been either been ignored or misunderstood on a global level. Voices in the article seem to express a conscious desire to do that kind of rethinking.
Sweden is already under muslim rape wave.Rape stats from Sweden is already very high.If Swedish govt ignored that then these type of riots are no surprise
 

spnadmin

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Sweden is already under muslim rape wave.Rape stats from Sweden is already very high.If Swedish govt ignored that then these type of riots are no surprise
Are you saying there is a tide of lawlessness in Sweden?

I am aware of this kind of information. The rising tide of rape is reported on extreme, right-wing blogs (yes they have them in Sweden, too!) that have an islamophobic message. Here is an example http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/1-in-4-swedish-women-will-be-raped-as-sexual-assaults-increase-500/

We already know from other discussions that rape statistics are notorious for distorting reality. 1) The better a country is at keeping crime statistics the more crimes will be reported. 2) The more diligent a country is at reporting crime statistics, the worse that country will look compared to other countries who do not take reporting as seriously. 3) Definitions of "rape" can vary widely. So if Sweden includes all sexual assaults as rape, of course it will fare worse in the data than a country that does not.

A good comparison is Brazil. Brazil admits to a rising tide of public rape. http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/1-in-4-swedish-women-will-be-raped-as-sexual-assaults-increase-500/

According to the UN 2010 statistics, Sweden reported 63 rapes per 100,000; and Brazil simply did not report.

The article linked above concludes that Brazil's rape image will not harm Brazil's attractiveness to foreign investors.
 
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kds1980

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Are you saying there is a tide of lawlessness in Sweden?

.
What I am trying to say is that a developed country also need to look at the quality of immigrants that are coming in their country.Blindly accepting immigrants from poor countries may end up inviting so many criminals which will make the life of local people hell.If immigrants were involved in rapes in then Swedish Govt should had taken the action earlier which they did not took to avoid racist tag and now Swedes are paying price because riots are happening.
 
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I think that until non-indigenous people get full and equal treatment based on a meritocracy, these problems will continue and even grow. This will be hard for people who've grown up in India to understand given their 'normalised' experiences and acceptance of inequality. People expect more in the wider world.
 

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