Swedish multiculturalism

The quest for peaceful coexistence amid accusations of racism and hypocrisy.

Sara Montesel
Current events

For the majority of the public, the ethnic mix in society and the parallel increase in certain types of violence are seen as a consequential effect. In other words, the increase of certain types of violence is believed to have a cultural provenance.


The severe humanitarian situation that has affected Afghanistan in recent weeks has had repercussions not only within the country, but also in all those migratory countries for those ethnic groups and religious denominations persecuted by the Taliban.
Between 2020 and early 2021, more than 54,000 Afghans arrived in Europe – mainly from Turkey through Greece or passing through the Balkans. The asylum seekers head primarily to Germany where there have been stable communities for some time, then they move onwards to France, Belgium, Austria and the Scandinavian countries. 

Speaking of the latter, the situation in Sweden is particularly noteworthy. In fact, in recent times, no European country has taken in more migrants and asylum seekers in proportion to its population than Sweden: 600,000 people in five years, a considerable number when compared to its 10 million inhabitants. 
For the majority of the public, the ethnic mix in society and the parallel increase in certain types of violence are seen as a consequential effect. In other words, the increase of certain types of violence is believed to have a cultural provenance.
According to data from the National Council for Crime Prevention, in 2017 there were 73 sexual assaults per 100,000 inhabitants, i. e. 24% more than in previous years. Although an investigation by Swedish TV Svt reported that 58% of those convicted of sexual crimes were born outside the EU, Swedish journalist Paulina Neuding was accused of xenophobia for connecting the increase in such crimes to mass migration. The words of Angry Foreigner, a much loved blogger in Sweden, are emblematic in this respect: “In Sweden, there is a preconception that every Swede is an oppressor and every immigrant is an oppressed person. When discussions about immigration break out, it never matters who is right and who is wrong. The mere questioning of reception issues is considered racism.”
Is all this true? Do hypocrisy and self-righteousness prevent us from reading and interpreting the facts in a way that is in line with reality? 
The data tells us that in 2017 there were 320 shootings and countless assaults with grenades, 110 murders and 7,226 rapes in Sweden – a 10% increase on 2016. As The Times reports, 36% of Swedish women have admitted to not feeling safe at night. Consequently, what were once considered the most emancipated women in Europe are now afraid to go out alone after dark or in unsafe areas. Indeed, it is not surprising that the arrival of thousands of young men from misogynistic and sexually-phobic cultures in a country that is liberal in many respects can also lead to this.
As evidence to this effect, the country has seen an increase in sales of tear gas canisters for self-defence in recent years. According to Henrik Frisk, manager of Plegium, a company that produces tear gas sprays and has 150 physical outlets throughout Sweden, about 80 % of the users are women. While police ask women to avoid parks and secluded streets, and local authorities suggest that they do not venture out alone into the city at dusk, it is no wonder that the sale of self-defence devices has increased. However, there are also those who deny that migration has led to an increase in gender-based violence and urge that the numbers be put into context by blaming European racist and xenophobic movements. 
According to the supporters of this argument, the very high number of sex crimes is due to several factors, including the severity and shape of the Swedish laws, as well as Swedish women’s greater awareness of their rights, which makes it easier for them to report harassment and assault. Furthermore, it is alleged that it is impossible to tie the crimes to the ethnicity of the perpetrators because Sweden does not disclose the ethnicity or nationality of the offenders, not even for sexual offences. 
In spite of conflicting views, what must be acknowledged is that the issue is not entirely fictional to the extent that the increase in violence against women was also a matter of a European Parliament enquiry in March 2013.
However, if it is true that in medio stat virtus, the Swedish government has announced a radical change in migration policy by introducing a ‘course on Western values’.
Upon arrival in the country, migrants will undergo a course to learn Western social and cultural rules. The purpose of this initiative is to prevent the development of new multicultural ghettos, which have unfortunately already sprung up in many Swedish cities, including Stockholm. In addition, the course is intended to curb the high rate of violence and aggression against Swedish girls at the hands of foreigners recorded in recent years. All migrants, refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Sweden will be taught the basic principles of Western culture and society, including especially equality between men and women, the prohibition of polygamy, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, arranged marriages of girls and behaviour generally related to the defence of honour. Information will also be provided on the asylum procedure, current legislation and the rules of democracy. Those wishing to reside in Sweden will thus be made aware of their rights under the hosting country’s legal system, as well as of the obligations they will have to fulfil in order to live in a European country.
It is hoped that the introduction of such a course will above all help the cultural integration of immigrants of the Muslim faith, who are generally considered to be those struggling to integrate certain fundamental Western values, including the concept of equality between men and women.

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