From May 19, 2013 – May 28, 2013 riots ensued in the suburban streets of Stockholm. After nine days of violence life is back to normal. “There was no rioting, and only a few torched cars, fewer than ten,” said Kjell Lindgren, Stockholm police spokesperson.
This must be a new normal where “fewer than ten torched cars” is acceptable to the abundantly tolerant residents of Stockholm.
Riots were triggered when Stockholm police shot down a 69-year old machete-wielding man in the immigrant ghetto of Husby. The BBC estimates that more than 80% of Husby’s 12,000 or so inhabitants are from an immigrant background, and most are Muslims from Turkey, the Middle East and Somalia.
Not surprisingly, members of Swedish Cabinet Ministries are calling for formal inquiries. Others are hesitant to provoke immigrant tensions stating that formal inquiries would further inflame pre-existing sensitivities.
“We don’t need an inquiry into violent criminals who set cars on fire. In all cases, the police were involved in deaths,” stated John Perhrson of Sweden’s Liberal Party, Folkpartiet. Pehrson, in his attempt to avoid unnecessary provocation of the already troubled youth, scoffed at the idea of conducting inquiries as to “not to exaggerate the social misery.”
In an effort to dismiss the notion that radical Islam exists within its borders, Krister Hammarbergh of Sweden’s Moderate Party asserted, “There is no deeper cause; rather there are criminals and young people looking for thrills.”
Morgan Johansson, the Social Democrat chair of the parliamentary justice committee concludes, “What happened in Husby and other suburbs is major and serious and we need help finding the underlying causes and to look closely at the work of the police and their actions.”
The political consensus and shared opinion of the group who took responsibility for the riots, Megafonen, is that it is the heavy handedness of the police that seem to be the impetus for the riots. It is the police whose actions ignited the wrath of the impoverished and unassimilated. Any inquiries that smell of anti-Muslim sentiment are met with impunity and accusations of xenophobia.
Rami al-Khamisi, spokesperson for Megafonen, defines the faction that took responsibility for the riots as “an organization that works with young people in deprived areas.”
“An organization for young people that arranges everything from film screenings, help with homework, debates, writing courses,” according to local newspaper Norra Sidan (‘The North Side’).
Furthermore al-Khamisi blamed the police and budget cuts for provoking the riots stating, “the police were heavy-handed and targeted immigrants indiscriminately. Cuts in services, underfunded schools and closures of youth centres have fuelled discontent.”
According to a UNICEF report:
The suburbs house no less than 120 ethnicities that speak even more languages. The highly segregated communities have high levels of unemployment that result in constant violence.
The violence is exacerbated by the customs and habits that each people have brought along with them. They refuse to relinquish it, rendering it nearly impossible to achieve any degree of integration with the society they have sought to merge into.
In a country which prides itself on its reputation for tolerance and multiculturalism, Swedish leadership seems dumbfounded as to why immigrants would not want to assimilate. Immigrants and refugees are given every opportunity to participate in Swedish culture.
The Swedish model of generous welfare benefits and programmes…include tuition in Swedish for immigrants (sfi), contacts with the labour market, schools and childcare services. The objective is that the newly arrived learn Swedish as soon as possible and be able to support themselves.
Sweden’s Minister for Integration and Minister of Employment went on to say, “Sweden will continue to be an open and tolerant country – I will never compromise on this. As a liberal, I welcome immigration, regardless of whether people come to Sweden as refugees or to work or study. But integration must be more effective – people who come to our country must be able to get a job and learn Swedish quickly.”
Newly arrived refugees and youth immigrants are not asked to accept the notion of Swedish exceptionalism. They are not mandated to eat pickled herring or recite the lyrics to ABBA’s Dancing Queen. All that is asked of the socially disadvantaged in exchange for generous entitlements is to learn the Swedish language to better help them integrate and acquire gainful employment. Sweden’s culture of tolerance and inclusion left them vulnerable to violent consequences. The same can be witnessed in London, Boston and Fort Hood.
The nuanced, non-declarative approach to terror when fought with euphemisms, deniability and pacification ultimately fails when you fail to name the perpetrators of terror for what they are – radical Islamists. No amount of egalitarian outreach can placate their ideology. You cannot embrace the unembraceable.