Night 7 in Sweden: Cars ablaze, police attacked as nation debates immigrant policy

Published time: May 26, 2013 08:49

Police officers of the Swedish riot police search young men in the Malarhojden suburb of Stockholm, Sweden on early Saturday morning of May 25, 2013, the sixth straight night of unrest that flared in Stockholm’s immigrant-dominated suburbs (AFP Photo)



Automobiles were torched and police confronted stone-wielding youths in Stockholm’s suburbs early Sunday as riots, which erupted following reports that police had killed an elderly immigrant, enter their first week.

Pockets of violence and vandalism continue to pose a challenge
to police in Stockholm, the Swedish capital that is home to an
increasingly diverse 2 million residents. “When it comes to car
fires, there have been a few, spread out in various locations, but
not as many as in recent days,”
Stockholm police spokesperson
Lars Bystroem told Swedish Radio.

In Vaarberg, a suburb south of Stockholm, police were attacked by
stone-throwing youths, while in Jordbro, another southern
neighborhood, police resorted to teargas as they met resistance
while attempting to arrest several individuals, AFP reported.

Violence has broken out in other parts of the country as well. In
Orebro, a town in central Sweden, some two dozen masked youths set
fire to three cars and a school and attempted to torch a police
station, Reuters reported, citing police. About 200 km (124 miles)
to the southwest in the city of Linkoping, several vehicles were
set alight and youths tried to torch a school and a

Police reinforcements arrived in the capital on Friday from
Sweden’s second- and third-biggest cities, Gothenburg and Malmo. At
the same time, neighborhood volunteer groups have been patrolling
the streets in a display of vigilance against the rioters.

These initiatives have helped reduce the intensity of the riots in
recent nights, Stockholm police spokesperson Kjell Lindgren said:
“With the strong presence on the streets of the good forces, and
the police reinforcements, I think we are well on our way towards
calmer times in the coming days.”

The riots began one week ago in Husby, a predominantly immigrant
suburb of Stockholm, following the fatal police shooting of an
elderly man who police said was brandishing a machete in his

Analysts believe the shooting ignited deep-seated frustration among
disenfranchised youths — many of whom have not assimilated into
Swedish society and are unemployed — who claim to have suffered
from police brutality and racism.

Sweden has long been heralded as a model of egalitarianism and
fairness. But the recent civil disturbances have sparked a heated
debate among Swedes over the government’s policy on immigrants, who
are flocking to the country due to its attractive social

The Scandinavian country is ranked as one of Europe’s most popular
destinations for immigrants, both in absolute numbers and relative
to its size, but critics say the new arrivals are failing to learn
even the basic language skills necessary to find employment, and
despite free government assistance programs.

Ingrid Carlqvist, editor-in-chief of Dispatch International, told
RT that Sweden is an attractive destination for immigrants because
the government gives them “money for nothing.”

“For the last 20 years or so, we have seen so many immigrants
coming to Sweden [who] really don’t like Sweden,”
said. “They don’t want to integrate, they don’t want to live in
this society — working and paying taxes, and so on — they come here
because they know Sweden will give them money for nothing.”

Carlqvist also suggested that the Swedish police were not being
tough enough on the rioters: “[The police] could use water
cannons, they could [enforce curfews]; there are so many things
they could do within the law, but they don’t do it.”

The change in Sweden’s domestic dynamics comes at a time when
far-right groups are commanding attention across the EU, with many
residents furious over austerity measures, high unemployment and
the general consensus that the individuals most responsible for
triggering the collapse of the global economy have escaped

“We have tried harder than any other European country to
integrate, spending billions on a welfare system that is designed
to help jobless immigrants and guarantee them a good quality of
Marc Abramsson, leader of the National Democrats Party,
told the Telegraph. “Yet we have areas where there are ethnic
groups that just don’t identify with Swedish society. They see the
police and even the fire brigade as part of the state, and they
attack them.

Multiculturalism does not recognize how humans actually function,
Abramsson added, emphasizing that such a stance should not be
confused with racism.

According to the OECD, Sweden still ranks among the nine most equal
member-states of the organization, but inequality rates surged by
one-third between 1985 and 2008 — the largest increase among OECD
countries, the organization said in a report released earlier this

This article originally appeared on: RT