Refugees in Sweden
rapporteur:Last year, while other EU states debated sending Syrians back to Turkey, Sweden single-handedly took in over 160,000 people. But not all Swedes are happy with their reputation as a humanitarian superpower.
A angry minority of far-right Swedes have lashed out against the government’s open-door policy. At least 64 active or planned refugee centers and housing facilities (map) were set on fire from June 2015 to April 2016, according to The Local Sweden, which combined police data with reports from newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. In some cases, buildings were set ablaze just one day after authorities announced they would be used to house refugees.
To understand what’s going on with their usually peaceful neighbors, Danish photographers Jonas Fogh and Sofia Busk spoke with members and supporters of Sweden’s anti-immigration groups, including the Swedish Democrats, Nordic Youth and Nordic Resistance Movement.
The most important part for us is that you don’t mix races. The Nordic race is behind a lot of inventions and much of the culture that have been created. It would be dangerous for all mankind if our abilities disappeared,” says Simon Lindberg, the 32-year-old leader of Sweden’s Nordic Resistance Movement. “We want to have nature’s biological diversity, and ensure that there are different races in the world, but we believe that the Nordic race deserves to endure.”
“In Sweden, the politicians opened up for mass migration in 1965, and we believe that anyone who came here after 1965 should be tested for their race. If they don’t belong to the Nordic race or a closely related people, they should be sent home.”
Pieter Bevelander, director of the Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare in Sweden, notes that anti-immigration voices are nothing new. “In the early 1990s, with the Bosnian refugee groups, we had the same kind of reactions from extreme groups,” he says.
In Nov. 2015, Swedish prime minister Stefan Lövfan announced that new border controls and mandatory ID checks would be put in place. In March 2016, EU leaders decided to start returning migrants to Turkey, in exchange for approved Syrian refugees. The number of people seeking asylum in Sweden has since plunged from 39,196 in Oct. 2015, to just over 2,100 in May 2016.