In Sweden, tensions temper pride over refugee policy

Take a closer look, though, and you notice the Arabic signs in shop windows, overhear conversations in Kurdish, and see many faces of people of Somali descent.

On the surface, it may feel a world away from other troubled immigrant neighborhoods in Europe — Molenbeek in Brussels, say, or the banlieues of Paris — but Rinkeby, however well-kept, has its problems too.

The man, who asked not to be named, is the son of two immigrants who came to Sweden from Greece before he was born. But, he argues, immigration to the country — and to his neighborhood — has now gone too far.

“It is out of control. There is a lot of them, there is no place for them,” he says. “The real problem is the refugees. They come here and think they can do whatever they want.”

Others remain absolutely convinced that Sweden’s immigration policy is something to be proud of.

“I know we have a lot of migrants, but I do not see it as a problem,” says student Natalie Lindum, 20, from Stockholm. “Yes, we have a lot of people coming, but it’s something I welcome.

“I have a lot of friends’ parents who are not from Sweden, but I love that. I love that it’s multicultural. They are good people, and I think there is actually less racism in Sweden nowadays.”

New arrivals

Trump was certainly right about one thing on the subject of Sweden and refugees: “They took in large numbers,” he told the rally in Florida at the weekend.

Sweden has received more refugees per capita than any other European nation. At the peak of the European migrant crisis in 2015, more than 160,000 people arrived in Sweden requesting asylum — a huge surge for a country with a population of fewer than ten million.

“The equivalent in the US would be to take in six to seven million refugees,” said Magnus Ranstorp, a counter-terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defense University.

With such a large number of new arrivals, it’s perhaps no surprise that there have been teething problems. Integration (or the lack of it) has become a real concern –…

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