No, Sweden has not lost its compass!

9 mars, 2017 § Lämna en kommentar

I have lived in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, all my adult life. I would like to explain to you how it feels when you have lived in a country as long as I have done although I am not born in the country. You adopt the country in the end. Or the country adopts you. In any case, today it is not just me who live in Sweden, but Sweden also lives within me. In my heart.

About a month ago a picture of Sweden, which was totally different from my own, began to spread around the world. I have always regarded the country as tolerant and with a deep humanitarian tradition, a belief I still hold on to today. But world news have in recent weeks instead described Sweden as a country in free fall. During these days, as I write this text, the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Distorted facts, lies, a total disinformation from other countries including Fox News, which is the American President Donald Trump’s premier source of information, and also actually from some forces within Sweden.

After all these years I have strong feelings for my second homeland. Sweden has taught me democracy, human rights, gender equality. I am proud of the country’s deep humanitarian tradition and how children are treated in Sweden. I am also proud and grateful that I have had the opportunity to develop as a woman. I am also proud of the Swedish education system and grateful that I have had the possibility to study up to PhD level. It has given me the tools and taught me to think critically, to distinguish between facts and ignorance, early detect populists and opportunists. I am also proud to live in a multicultural society where one in five residents are born in another country and I am proud to be one of them. This is my Sweden that today I am willing to fight for and defend. That is why I write to you. I want to tell you how I see the present situation.

There is a distorted narrative in the world that the welfare system in Sweden is about to collapse due to high immigration, that the multicultural concept no longer works. I do not share that image, and I find support by the facts. The Swedish economy is currently strong despite the high cost of immigration. Sweden has a surplus in the public finances and projections indicate that the surplus will increase by 2020. In addition, Sweden had one of the highest rates of growth in Europe the past two years. The World Economic Forum has identified Sweden among the top countries in many international rankings.

To achieve this, where Sweden has come today, have taken a long time. The country was less than one hundred years ago rather poor. A small population lived under rather dire circumstances, and many Swedes emigrated in the early 1900s, mainly to America, because they did not see a future in their own homeland. The Swedish welfare state has deep roots. People had to learn to work together to survive. Hence the Swedish humanism that many others also get to experience and benefit from and find safety under its wings, i.e. by the autumn of 2015 when nearly 163,000 people applied for asylum in the country. You can also often read that Sweden has been built by immigrants. For Sweden has a rich history of immigration. The country has always welcomed immigrants.

Why does Sweden do this? Sweden needs immigration to compensate for the decline in the number of children who are born here. The Swedish experience is that it goes well for people who have immigrated, they contribute to the Swedish welfare system, the Swedish economy. They contribute by their cultures, traditions and create diversity. I do not claim that Sweden is a country without problems, there are problems in Sweden, but Sweden will, as always, solve them.

In recent weeks world media has also conveyed an image that the crime rate has increased in Sweden and that it is refugees who account for this increase. According to the National Crime Prevention Council’s investigation was in 2015 about one-eighth of the population subjected to a crime. This is an increase compared to the previous years, but is about the same level as in 2005. Recently, a study at the University of Stockholm found that the main difference in the criminal activity between immigrants and others in the population was due to the difference in the socioeconomic conditions under which they grew up in Sweden, such as parents’ income and social circumstances of the residential area.

A very recent report (28/2 2017) from the National Crime Prevention Council broadly confirms the results above that crime in Sweden over time has decreased. Sweden has never been safer than it is today claims a group of scientists and social commentators well aware of the problem. And what do Swedish media say?

A really fresh Dagens Nyheter (Sweden’s largest daily newpaper) / Ipsos survey shows that about three-quarters of Swedes believe that Sweden is a safe country to live in. In contrast, a quarter of respondents believe that society is more unsafe than the media image reflects. The majority of these consists of SD voters, Swedish democrats, (an extreme right-wing nationalist party). Those who are strongly negative to immigration also tend to have a distrust of the major national media. They do not think media give a true and fair view of the situation and many choose to connect crime with migration and lack of integration.

One reason behind the polarization between feelings of security and insecurity is assumed to be changes in the media landscape and new habits when it comes to news consumption. Internet and social media have changed the game plan. News production and consumption are layered in a way we have not seen before in Sweden. Today Swedes take in the information via social media where ingrained perceptions and prejudices are confirmed, despite a lack of evidence.

Another image of Sweden that is spread around the world is that the number of rapes in the country has increased. The definition of rape in Sweden has been broadened, making it difficult to compare the numbers over time. It is also misleading to compare the figures with other countries, since many acts considered as rape under Swedish law are not classified as rape in many other countries. Sweden has also made a conscious effort to encourage women to report crimes. Sex offenses, threats, and harassment perpetrated via the internet seem to have increased slightly.

No Sweden has not lost its compass but still remains a safe country to live in.

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