This is an article about the rise of the “Sweden Democrats”, a far-right party which has been increasing its share of the vote in its country over the past couple of years and looks likely to get seats in Parliament fairly soon. That is worth reading in itself, but there are also some myths that are popular in the right-wing press and blogosphere about how Muslims are “taking over” Sweden, as well as their supposed fondness for raping white Swedish women:
A 2008 government report, which drew entirely on the experiences of teachers, police and social workers, described a place where Islamic orthodoxy was enforced by young thugs; women were forced to wear headscarves and children segregated in religious free schools. There was a small riot after one of the 20 or 30 unofficial mosques in cellars was closed when its lease was not renewed, and nastier riots when the Israeli tennis team played a Davis Cup match in the city last summer.
But this isn’t Beirut or Baltimore. It isn’t even Tower Hamlets. I was told at Lund University that a foreign graduate student who lived in Rosengård for a couple of years couldn’t understand why anyone would call it a ghetto. He came from Liverpool. Certainly, I can’t think of another slum in Europe that has broad, well-signposted cycle paths on which stately middle-aged women in headscarves pedal their groceries home.
The houses are for the most part low blocks arranged in squares around playgrounds, on a familiar Swedish model. Even in Herrgården, where there are a few boarded-up windows, the play areas are clean and well-maintained.
And about those rape statistics …
In another publicity stunt, the party released a report claiming to prove, from government statistics, that immigrants were five times more likely than native Swedes to be convicted of rape. What the statistics actually show is that they are five times as likely to be investigated for rape, but experts point out that this may be due in part to racism in the criminal justice system, and that the absolute numbers are very small: when the Sweden Democrats claimed that 10% of the rapists convicted in their survey were Iraqi, they were talking about 12 men. If 0.04% of native Swedes are investigated for rape in one year, the corresponding figure for immigrants is 0.22%.
Read it all.
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- On hijab, ‘neutrality’ and threat
- UKIP, the ‘burqa’ and FGM