Scandinavian folks can just as racist as other folks. Our own Danish grandfather, a onetime Klansman, once declared to his son-in-law, our father, that “Swedes is nothin’ but niggers turned inside out.”
The nomadic Roma people have long been the especial targets of violent xenophobia, and as Heather Docalavich and Shaina C. Indovino write in their work Denmark, “A practice of ‘Gypsy hunting’ — similar to fox hunting — was both common and legal in some parts of Europe. Even as late as 1835, a Gypsy hunt in Dennmark “brought in a bag of over 260 men, women, and children.”
And in Sweden, which has a long history of anti-Roma xenophobia, the problem has reached crisis proportions, even before the influx of refugees from the tide of ISIS violence.
Reuters reported in August:
A series of attacks in Sweden on beggars, many Roma, has highlighted a dark side to a country considered a bastion of tolerance but where the far right has been gaining support by claiming society is under threat from waves of immigrants.
An influx of thousands of mainly Roma migrants has shocked affluent Swedes, with beggars now a common sight outside supermarkets, IKEA stores and subways in the capital.
Since most come from Romania and Bulgaria, they are free to travel to Sweden as EU citizens, but their presence has fueled claims by the Sweden Democrats the country is a soft-touch for migrants and is being swamped.
An October Al Jazeera report focused on violence toward immigrants from violence-torn lands in Africa and the Middle East:
A former retirement home slated to house refugees in Sweden was burned Thursday in what police suspect was an arson attack, local media reported. It was the latest in a string of fires at buildings destined to house some of the refugees streaming into Europe from the Middle East and Africa.
The fire in the southern town of Oderljunga followed one at a former boys’ school set to house about 170 refugees in a nearby town over the weekend, according to Swedish newspaper The Local. Three other centers were engulfed by fire in the southern Sweden last week.
Sweden, with a population of 9.5 million, hosts the most refugees per capita of any European country: 142,000 refugees and about 57,000 asylum seekers, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.
And who are the folks capitalizing on the influx of refugees to inflame the violence?
Here’s a video report from the Guardian:
Meet the young supporters of Sweden’s far right
Sweden’s liberal identity is under attack. As increasing numbers of refugees enter the country, anti-immigrant violence is rising.
And the Sweden Democrats, a radical nationalist group, is now the third largest party in the country. Phoebe Greenwood meets the young Swedes who believe multiculturalism is a threat – and the migrants afraid of what this means for them.
More on supporters of the Sweden Democrats from Linköping University:
After the Swedish general elections in September 2014, there has been much debate regarding how the Sweden Democrats could end up as the third largest party. Some commentators argued that voters were expressing their disapproval with the established parties – a theory rejected by the four Linköping University researchers.
“There is a very strong correlation between negative attitudes toward minorities and the decision to vote for the Sweden Democrats,” says Peter Hedström, professor of analytical sociology and director of the Institute for Analytical Sociology (IAS) at Linköping University.
In the study, the researchers asked respondents how they feel about someone with a Muslim background being their next-door neighbour, caring for their parents or marrying into their family. The questions were asked both before and after the election. The results show that Sweden Democrat voters have a more negative view of Muslims and people with foreign names than other voters. Fifty per cent of Sweden Democrat voters did not want a Muslim as next-door neighbour, and 80 per cent are negative to someone with a Muslim background marrying into their family.