Changes in everyday life were noticeable, but discussing them was deemed inappropriate. Officially, the public opinion in Sweden typically does not delve into similar matters, and conversations about aggression were simply unaccustomed. Already in 1973, after the famous bank robbery in the capital, where the term “Stockholm syndrome” was popularised, one of the robbers admitted that while planning the attack and taking hostages, he counted on a soft police reaction. How did he justify this? Firstly, as he stated, he relied on Sweden’s deeply rooted aversion to violence, and secondly, he pointed to the effect of the ongoing election campaign and politicians’ fear of a decisive anti-terrorist action, which could even result in injured bank employees.
Half a century later, political correctness also played a significant role, instructing to see immigrants only as victims saving their lives from dangers lurking in their home countries. But besides that, as some emphasise, Swedes left immigrants to themselves. Violence and mutual antipathy divided the country into hostile tribes. In ethnic and religious minority environments, a new generation began to grow up, perceiving Sweden as an oppressive country, and their sense of injustice and hostility was fueled within the ghettos.
For the last two decades, however, these phenomena were not to be spoken about particularly loudly. Over time, the silence began to bother Swedes, which they expressed even on internet forums. Here are some comments on the popular Reddit site, under the thread: “How Peaceful Sweden Became Europe’s Gun-Murder Capital”:
– “I’ve lived in Stockholm for just 10 years now and can easily say the feeling in the city has changed quite dramatically since I first moved. It can be summed up almost in the number of nights I’ve been woken by the damn police helicopter overhead.”
– “Do we all know what’s going on, but agree to keep quiet?”
– “Threads on this topic usually get locked by moderators for some reason.”
– “Everyone knows where the problem lies. Stop burying your head in the sand. Immigrants are let in without thinking about the consequences, without care, and even without learning our culture and language. Why is anybody shocked? (...) This is not a statement against all immigrants, but against those thugs who cannot behave like people. We opened our hearts and homes, and they behave like pigs. It’s time to show them who’s in charge here.”
The thread ends with a message from the moderator: “locked due to an influx of rule-breaking comments.”
Government: Time to reclaim Sweden
In late April 2022, Magdalena Andersson, then Prime Minister and also leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Workers’ Party, had to admit – Sweden failed to integrate the vast number of immigrants it admitted over the past twenty years. This has led to the emergence of parallel societies and gang violence.
Her competitors in the election took over the country’s government, promising to tackle criminals. However, this turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated. Sweden was unprepared both for accepting so many “guests” and for “evicting” at least some of them. The legal system, which did not allow for effective prosecution of criminals, was particularly burdensome.
Last week, following further murders, shootings, and bomb attacks, levelling houses to the ground, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson delivered a dramatic address to the nation, announcing the deployment of the military to the streets, which would combat the gangs.
“There has never been anything like this in Sweden. No country in Europe is in a similar situation,” justified the head of government. “People live in fear that gangs will lure their children with money, watches, and cars,” he added, to ultimately tell the truth: “The situation we are in was brought about by political naivety and ignorance, irresponsible migration policy, and failed integration.”
The idea of the military on Swedish streets is not entirely new. Stockholm was considering this as early as mid-2021. Eventually, it was not decided upon, but now the government, considered right-wing, seems determined to, as some politicians openly say, “reclaim Sweden.” The active armed forces of the kingdom number around 24,000 people, including civilian personnel. Gangster structures are estimated to have about 30,000 members.
Kristersson took power last year, but breakthrough effects of his fight against crime and a tougher course towards immigrants are still not visible. The most well-known leader of a Swedish gang, Rawa Majid, has not yet stood trial. And chances are slim, as he impudently issues orders from… Turkey. Swedes want rapid changes and are vocal about it. Hence, polls show growing support for… the Social Democrats, who, over a few decades, have worked for a similar image of the Kingdom of Sweden.
– Sławomir Cedzyński
TVP WEEKLY. Editorial team and jornalists
– Translated by jz
The author is a journalist for the i.pl portal