Riots erupt in Sweden’s capital just days after Trump comments


Max Bearak, The Washington Post, 21 February 2017

Just two days after President Trump provoked widespread consternation by seeming to imply, incorrectly, that immigrants had perpetrated a recent spate of violence in Sweden, riots broke out in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in the northern suburbs of Sweden’s capital, Stockholm.

The neighborhood, Rinkeby, was the scene of riots in 2010 and 2013, too. And in most ways, what happened late Monday night was reminiscent of those earlier bouts of anger. Swedish police apparently made an arrest around 8 p.m. near the Rinkeby station. For reasons not yet disclosed by the police, word of the arrest prompted a crowd of youths to gather.

Over four hours, the crowd burned about half a dozen cars, vandalized several shopfronts and threw rocks at police. Police spokesman Lars Bystrom confirmed to Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper that an officer fired shots with intention to hit a rioter, but did not strike his target. A photographer for the newspaper was attacked by more than a dozen men and his camera was stolen, but ultimately no one was hurt or even arrested.

Bystrom added, “This kind of situation doesn’t happen that often, but it is always regrettable when they happen.”

In 2015, when the influx of refugees and migrants to Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia was highest, Sweden took in the greatest number per capita. By and large, integration has been a success story there, save for incidents such as Monday night’s, which have taken place in highly segregated neighborhoods.

The newspaper Dagens Nyheter analyzed crime statistics between October 2015 and January 2016 and came to the conclusion that refugees were responsible for only 1 percent of all incidents. That has done little to assuage the perceptions, even among Swedes, that foreigners are culpable for the crime that does happen. A Pew Research Center study conducted in early 2016 indicated that 46 percent of Swedes believed that “refugees in our country are more to blame for crime than other groups.”

Trump clarified on Twitter that he drew his claim of immigrant violence in Sweden — made at a campaign speech in Melbourne, Fla. — from a Fox News segment in which two Swedish police officers were interviewed. The segment was part of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and featured filmmaker Ami Horowitz, who was introduced as someone who had documented an “incredible surge of refugee violence” in Sweden.

The two Swedish police officers whose interview provided the basis for the report spoke out Monday and claimed that their testimony had been taken out of context. One of them, Anders Göranzon, said the interview was about areas with high crime rates and that “there wasn’t any focus on migration or immigration.”

“We don’t stand behind it. It shocked us. He has edited the answers,” said Göranzon. “We were answering completely different questions in the interview. This is bad journalism.”

Horowitz defended his work to the Guardian, saying that he was “pretty sure” he told the officers what the segment was going to be about, and implying that the officer’s disavowal was made under pressure from his superiors.

Multiple criminologists in Sweden contacted by The Washington Post over the weekend said the notion that immigrants were responsible for a large proportion of crime there was highly exaggerated. None were comfortable referring to neighborhoods such as Rinkeby as “no-go zones.”

Nevertheless, the integration of immigrants into Swedish society is a problem that the government has been struggling to address. “Sweden, definitely, like other countries, [faces] challenges when it comes to integration of immigrants into Swedish society, with lower levels of employment, tendencies of exclusion and also crime-related problems,” said Henrik Selin, director of intercultural dialogue at the Swedish Institute.


14 responses to “Riots erupt in Sweden’s capital just days after Trump comments

  1. My sister and family live in Sweden in a very small town that took in about 400 migrants (1% of the population). It takes a long time to sort out the process of who stays and gets services and who goes back. The process of processing the immigrants takes months and years, and until the time the immigrants are granted asylum, there are very few services provided other than food and housing. So no jobs, no skills, etc. However, because of a European law, about 200 of the refugees were brought back to Germany, where they first entered the EU. Many many thousands more immigrants will be transferred out of Sweden, so the immigrant population will be much smaller than a year ago. But cost of providing, sorting and moving the immigrants has caused a financial crisis in Sweden.

    • In an ideal world, many of us would like to exercise altruistic principles and welcome as many refugees to our nations. Sweden is no exception, and in an ideal world, it would be the right thing to do, and continues to be the right thing to do to feed, house and provide medical support for those in need. Unfortunately, as you point out, the high volume of refugees has meant that the burden of responsibility on Sweden is too great, and the same could be said of Germany. When you take into consideration that Sweden’s indigenous population is feeling marginalised, this creates a melting pot of resentment, however, despite the transfer of many immigrants out of Sweden to other states to shoulder the burden of the crisis, there remains a vast financial deficit in the economy to support the remaining refugees, which greatly impacts on Swedish nationals, who themselves are finding it difficult to put food on their own tables. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t support the sick and the vulnerable, but we do it at the expense of our own national at our peril. These concepts have led to Brexit, President Trump gaing power, the Party for Freedon gaining support in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen gaining popular support in France. Liberal values have led to a backlash in society that has led to the far right and left gaining support, and in some cases power. The silent majority in the middle ground, have yet to speak. Thank you kindly NurSerial for your comment.

  2. The first thing is that if the immigrants are all young men they are not fleeing persecution but are just looking for a better life. Second point is that many immigrants do not wish at all to integrate. They just want to recreate the country they have left, which, ironically, can’t have been that great in the first place. The key thing is to learn the language of the country you move to and then try to join in with their activities. Playing sport is the best way.

    • I saw an extensive report on TV last year, where several migrant boats were transiting the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy. We were told by the BBC that these were refugees fleeing persecution. The coverage lasted for approximately 2 weeks. The camera never lies. Nearly all of these transient migrants were young black men, and when interviewed simply stated that they wanted to reach Europe. They we not in danger of their lives, they were trying to work in Europe to send benefits, and if they were able to find work, their low wages back to their country of origin. Genuine refugees who flee persecution, violence and death deserve our help. Economic migrants who seek to abuse our systems do not. This is why there is a highly charged political climate in the UK and USA now. Our own people are on the breadline. And I wholeheartedly agree John, if they want to move here, they should properly integrate, not set up enclaves where they establish their own laws, and they should learn the language and the law of the land. If they did that, we would be far more tolerant and accepting. Thank you for your comment John.

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