Populist political parties taking advantage of ‘Swedish naivety’ on immigration

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By: Edinah Masanga

In the summer of 2018, I met a Swedish guy who I wanted to contract for my business. He travelled to my town for a meeting and I took him to one of the most popular and exclusive seafood restaurants on the harbour. He said something that day, which I have never forgotten.

This guy, with his blonde hair and blue eyes, looked at me and said, “You know what Edinah, Swedish people can be so naive, we could tell them that you are a Kenyan princess and they would believe it even if you don’t even come from Kenya.”

I laughed. A lot. I considered it a joke but many months later to this day I realise that there was, in fact, a jarring and sad truth in that statement. There is an alarming number of Swedes that are indeed naive in this country. Allowing themselves to be misled by the political elites and ignoring basic facts and realities of the modern world order.

Watching the political leaders debate yesterday I could not help but wonder how three whole political parties came to a debate about the future of their country with nothing more than baseless sensationalist statements.

Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats and Moderates did put up a united front at the first political party leaders debate of 2019 and according to them, all that is wrong in Sweden is wrong because of immigrants.

That naive, simplistic and intellectually bankrupt viewpoint ignores a basic logic, the world has evolved and Sweden simply cannot insulate itself from the global problems that it also to some extent contributes to. That is a simple thing to understand.

Sweden, as a state, under international law, has obligations to other states. The principle of reciprocity hinges on Sweden meeting its obligations to other states and in turn, those states will do the same.

Hence, Sweden must respect and honour the Geneva Convention which requires it to register, investigate and offer asylum to persons who qualify for it. There is no escaping that no matter what SD, M and KD want to tell their hoodwinked supporters. What the political parties need to agree on are the parameters with which that can be done realistically and not how to win votes based on xenophobia.

But for Jimmie Åkesson to say that all sexual crimes in Sweden are “imported crimes” is to posit that only immigrant men are committing those criminalities. It’s not true.  We just need to look at the history of Sweden to dispel this myth, women were not equal to men in this country as early as the sixties. Now to suggest that native Swedes have achieved gender equality and eradicated all forms of gender violations against women is a huge leap. into an empty and dark hole.

The only difference between crimes committed by immigrants and those committed by Swedes is that immigrant crimes receive more attention and the courts themselves have been found to punish immigrants harsher than natives and that sets the tone on how the two perpetrators are perceived. But none is better than the other.

Children placed in foster care homes are being raped and abused and I doubt that those homes belong only to immigrants.

We could toss mud back and forth but that is unhelpful either as is the racist and xenophobic rhetoric around immigration in Sweden but I think we have established in a few words that the populist standpoint is not factually true.

I would have liked if the political leaders had brought facts to the table, and not soundbites. Immigration comes with its challenges but this country was long broken before migrants thronged its shores. Immigration may have exacerbated those problems, but it certainly did not create them in their entirety. For political supporters to allow themselves to be misled on that basic fact is utter naivety.

 

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