Riots Erupt in Sweden as Refugee Debate Escalates

Sweden Riots Refugee Debate 1Riots broke out in Rinkeby, a district within Stockholm, Sweden — is largely populated by immigrants, late Monday, Feb. 20.

Participants threw rocks at police officers and set several vehicles on fire, the Swedish police department said.

The violence succeeded police attempts to arrest a citizen of the area on drug charges.

Swedish police also accredited the riots to “increased pressure on criminals in the area.”

Christopher DeRosa, the Director of the History Program, also said a “dimension of the unrest that should not be ignored is that it was preceded by an increase in aggressive policing.”

The situation was controlled by midnight.

According to CNN, two riots broke out in the same night. Earlier in the evening, law enforcement fired warning shots in order to subdue the crowd and one shot was directed at a rioter. Later that night, rioters damaged shop fronts and looting was also reported.

Several injuries, but no gunshot wounds, were reported as well, including that of a shopkeeper, according to BBC.

While these violent outbreaks are rare, there have been other instances such as in 2013, where schools and a police station in Stockholm were set on fire.

Sweden Riots Refugee Debate 2Besides its refugee population, Rinkeby is also known for its high levels of unemployment.

“The heart of the issue in Sweden is employment.” DeRosa said. “Sweden has a generous and welcoming immigration policy that will potentially enrich its society as immigration enriches our own.  But it is a lot harder for recent immigrants to crack into the job market in Sweden than it is in the United States.”

DeRosa also said that well-intentioned immigrants grow frustrated when their opportunities are restricted.

On Feb. 18 at  a Florida rally, President Trump said, “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

No attack occurred in Sweden on Feb. 17. Swedes were confused by Trump’s statement, and former Prime Minister Carl Bildt tweeted: “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?”

Soon after Trump’s account, #lastnightinSweden was trending world wide on Twitter.

“I don’t think they tried to start violence just to start violence,” Harry Termyna, a sophomore psychology student, said of the riots. He continued, “Sweden is a safe haven for them. Trump may have played a role in inciting that.”

Kenneth Campbell, a professor in the History and Anthropology department, is concerned with how Trump uses false information for his own gains: “One of the most disturbing trends of the current political climate involves the arrogance of a President who seems to believe he can spout whatever ‘facts’ or theories suit his political message with no accountability, while attacking the mainstream media for perpetuating ‘fake news,’” he said.

The issue includes more than just Trump, Campbell said. The media is also to blame, but not in the way Trump propagates. He continued, “The tendency of the television media to engage in and promote hyperbolic arguments in order to draw ratings does not help. CNN is not the promoter of fake news President Trump makes it out to be, and there are many good journalists working there, but its programming falls into this category too often, shedding more heat than light.”

Although no riots or terrorist activity in Sweden was reported on Feb. 17, as Trump claimed, the riots followed only a few days later.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on Feb. 22, two leaders of the Swedish Democratic Party seemed to have backed Trump shedding light on the issue in Sweden.

Mattias Karlsson and Jimmie Akesson said in their op-ed, “Mr. Trump did not exaggerate Sweden’s current problems. If anything, he understated them.”

Between 2012 and 2015, Sweden granted asylum to 101,025 refugees, or about 1 percent of its total population. The result has caused increased tensions, attacks against immigrants, and protests both for and against migrants, according to CNN.

A variety of factors contribute to refugee violence. “Unemployment, combined with discrimination and prejudice, whether perceived or real, certainly can create a potentially explosive situation” said Campbell

“Generalizations prove to be detrimental to immigrants when the actions of a small group are employed to profile the entire population” said Campbell.

Sweden has low crime rates in general. The Swedish Crime Survey revealed only a slight increase in 2016 compared to 2015.

No terrorist attacks have occurred since Sweden’s open-door policy for refugees was introduced in 2013.

However, the issue of whether to harbor refugees has been a contentious issue in many European nations.

This issue has proven to be very relevant in Germany over the last year. According to German crime statistics cited by the British news outlet, Dailymail, immigrants committed 142,500 crimes in the first half of 2016. This is equivalent to 780 crimes per day.

More recently however, statistics show that German attacks on migrants have grown to nearly 10 attacks a day, according to BBC.

Nonetheless, Trump’s report of a made-up terrorist attack follows other dispersions of false information by his administration to support his immigration ban. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway spoke of a “Bowling Green Massacre” that never happened, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer discussed a terrorist attack in Atlanta that didn’t actually take place.

“We are dangerously close to living in a kind of nightmare- Orwellian world in which those in power try to control what gets disseminated to the public as truth” Campbell said. “The President and his spokespersons then attack the media as biased when journalists expose the administration’s careless and reckless disregard for truth in its communication with the American people.”

Additional reporting was done by Brendan Greve, Co-Politics Editor

photo taken from dailywire.com