Swedish Multiculturalism Goes Awry

By Soeren Kern

Hundreds of Muslim immigrants have rampaged through parts of the Swedish capital of Stockholm, torching cars and buses, setting fires, and hurling rocks at police.

The unrest -- a predictable consequence of Sweden's failed model of multiculturalism, which does not encourage Muslim immigrants to assimilate or integrate into Swedish society -- is an ominous sign of things to come.

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The trouble began after police fatally shot an elderly man brandishing a machete in a Muslim-majority neighborhood. Although the exact circumstances of the May 13 incident remain unclear, police say they shot the 69-year-old man (his nationality has not been disclosed) in self-defense after he allegedly threatened them with the weapon.

Two days later, on May 15, a Muslim youth organization called Megafonen arranged a protest against alleged police brutality and demanded an independent investigation and a public apology.

On May 19, Muslim youths initiated a riot in Husby, a heavily Muslim suburb in the western part of Stockholm where more than 80% of the residents originate from Africa and the Middle East.

At least 100 masked Muslim youths set fire to cars and buildings, smashed windows, vandalized property and hurled rocks and bottles at police and rescue services in Husby. The riots quickly spread to at least 15 other parts of Stockholm, including the districts of Fittja, Hagsätra, Kista, Jakobsberg, Norsborg, Skaerholmen, Skogås and Vaarberg.

After two nights of spiraling violence, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt appealed for calm, condemning the riots as hooliganism. But his plea ("Everyone must pitch in to restore calm -- parents, adults") failed to prevent more nights of unrest, during which Muslim youth set fire to two schools, a police station, a restaurant, and a cultural center, and burned more than 50 cars and buses.

The unrest -- which has many parallels to the Muslim riots that occurred in France in 2005 -- has shocked Swedes who have long turned a blind eye to immigration policies that have encouraged the establishment of a parallel Muslim society in Sweden.

Although there are no official statistics of Muslims in Sweden, the US State Department reported in 2011 that there are now between 450,000 and 500,000 Muslims in the country, or about 5% of the total population of 9.5 million.

Muslim immigration to Sweden has been fostered by open-door asylum policies that are among the most generous in the world.

During the early 1990s, for example, Sweden granted asylum to nearly 100,000 refugees fleeing the wars in the Balkans. Sweden has also been a magnet for refugees from Iraq; as a result of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Gulf War (1990-1991) and the Iraq War (2003-2011), there are now more than 120,000 Iraqis living in Sweden. In fact, Iraqis (both Christians and Muslims) now make up the second-largest ethnic minority group in Sweden, second only to ethnic Finns.

More recently, Sweden has granted asylum to thousands of refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria, as well as from Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

Sweden is forecast to receive some 54,000 asylum seekers in 2013, according to the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket), the highest level since the 1990s. In 2012, Sweden accepted 44,000 asylum seekers, up by nearly a half from 2011.

Sweden is expected to receive at least 18,000 Syrians in 2013 alone. Since September 2012, asylum seekers have arrived in Sweden at the rate of 1,250 per week, far more than the Migration Board's capacity of between 500 and 700.

Sweden is a prime destination for asylum seekers because the country offers new immigrants free housing and social welfare benefits upon arrival. But many immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East are poorly educated and have great difficulty finding a job in Sweden.

As a result, many immigrants are segregated from Swedish society and often live in areas where much of the population comes from countries other than Sweden. This in turn has encouraged the creation of parallel societies and the establishment of so-called no-go zones, parts of Sweden that are off limits to non-Muslims.

In some areas, no-go zones function as microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law where Swedish authorities have effectively lost control and are unable to provide even basic public aid such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services.

In the southern city of Malmö -- where Muslims make up more than 25% of the population -- fire and emergency workers refuse to enter Malmö's mostly Muslim Rosengaard district without police escorts. The male unemployment rate in Rosengaard is estimated to be above 80%. When fire fighters attempted to put out a fire at Malmö's main mosque, they were attacked by stone throwers.

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Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Reprinted with permission.

(AP Photo)

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