Koran-burning threats trigger riots in Sweden. Why the one-time refugee utopia is witnessing a rise in right-wing extremist policies
With immigration at its peak in the 2010s, fears of a “migrant crisis” gripped the refugee utopia and the rest of Europe in 2015. Opinions are divided on whether the fears were realistic or fabricated and milked by the European right. But the story also served to divide societies, which opened the way for the far right to cultivate a successor. Asylum seekers, who were predominantly Muslims, felt increasingly unwelcome.
The clash of civilizations
Swedes have generally avoided conflicts and are tolerant of others. Nevertheless, a recent anti-Islam rally by a right-wing extremist group planning to burn a Koran had triggered three days of violence in the southern part of the country. The rally was moved by the authorities, but the riot was triggered despite preventive measures according to reports.
Why are the far right in Sweden so hostile to refugees, especially practicing Muslims? A look at both cultures is the key. Sweden is secular, while for Muslims, religion dictates rules for everything from dress to lifestyle to personal laws. Swedes also follow the rules, but according to a brooking report, when asked what it means to be Swedish, most took up the concept appropriately. It was roughly described as: Swedes expect you to do something but do not tell yourself to do it, it’s just what to do. Newcomers and adults in immigrant colonies are puzzled by this. In addition, some Swedes see
The abyss between the two peoples was widened by right-wing policies that linked increasing crime to immigration.
Immigration in Sweden
Muslims make up about 9% of Sweden’s population.
The four main countries where Sweden receives immigrants are from India, Syria, Germany and Pakistan. In 2021, the majority (10,480) of the immigrants who moved to Sweden were Swedes who returned to their home country. Sweden received 82,500 immigrants in 2021.
The number of immigrants received by Sweden peaked in 2016 at 1,63,005. Since then, there has been a steady decline until 2020 when it dropped to 82,518 due to the pandemic. It rose again slightly to 90,631 2021.
Fallout of violence
The far-right group behind the anti-Islam rally is led by