There are more right wing extremists aiming for white supremacy per capita in Sweden than in other EU countries, according to the Swedish intelligence services. And, to make matters worse they frequently have access to machine guns and home made bombs, made with the help of the internet.
Am absolutely horrified to note that groups with aims like the KuKluxKlan and Nazis are on the rise, and it’s little comfort to know that it’s happening all over Europe. Sweden’s nationalistic political party is on the rise and will most likely get into parliament in elections next year.
Brussels is very aware of these unfortunate developments and EU member countries hence realize the importance of integrating recent immigrants from outside the EU as swiftly as possible as an antidote.
But what is the Swedish government and the EU doing to facilitate integration and counteract these kind of unfortunate developments? Read up on it and really both the Swedish government and the EU are devoting a lot of money, time and effort to build up a multi cultural society where different ethnic groups live side by side in harmony.
But it seems to be easier said than done. There are currently about 13-14 million immigrants from outside Europe, which constitute about four percent of the population. They unfortunately remain concentrated in particular regions and cities, and may remain excluded even after they and their second-generation offspring have become nationals. Some suburbs, like Rinkeby in Stockholm and Rosengård in Malmö have about 85% immigrants and many of them don’t speak Swedish, or even English. Not surprisingly the latter suburb is where racial riots take place on a regular basis. Seven out of ten school children there actually have such poor grades they are not accepted for further education. Students who wish to learn have to ask to be moved to schools outside the area.
But integration is not only up to the authorities but to the immigrants themselves as well. Many want to integrate, make an effort and succeed. But the segment that doesn’t want to are very visible, resulting in many Europeans wrongly tarring all immigrants with the same brush.
So how do we integrate the bad apples? Speaking the language, education and work are fundamental factor. Motivating recently arrived immigrants to learn Swedish has not worked out very well, so the Swedish government is now offering a bonus scheme to newly arrived immigrants to encourage them to learn the language in a stipulated time.
Denmark and Norway also failed to get immigrants to learn their languages. The Danes hence decided to do something about it. They looked at the situation and concluded that few immigrants had little to gain by getting a job in terms of real income and that state-regulated integration programs have not been conducive to providing immigrants and descendants with jobs (once they learn the language they have to get a job and can not claim social security anymore).
So the Danes stopped allowing new immigrants to bring their extended families which has resulted in the new Danes learning Danish and managing to get jobs. Consequently the current level of employment of immigrants in Denmark is on par with native Danes. In Sweden, and most of the EU for that matter, the level of unemployed is, at least, twice as high among immigrants as natives. So maybe other EU countries should follow suit and do what the Danes did; integrate the ones we already have and then bring their families. Presumably the families will then will do as their relative, learn the language, get a job and integrate into society?
But to really succeed we also need to find a common nominator, or nominators, that everybody can unite behind.
Acquisition of citizenship can enhance solidarity and strengthen a sense of belonging to a society both among immigrants and the rest of the population. But, so far, that doesn’t seem to have been enough. So how do we make everybody feel European and subscribe to the same values? What can be done to make all Europeans, regardless of origin, religion and culture live together in harmony? Maybe, like Tito, we have to create a common nominator to unite us all? If not, we will play into the hands of white supremacy groups and nationalistic parties which, in my opinion, would be an absolute disaster.
It is in deep global recessions like now, with massive unemployment, that extremists thrive by playing on peoples fears to foster hatred against minority ethnic groups. So Europeans and immigrants alike now have to step up to the plate to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
(Photo: Hugh Kirk, Flickr)
Re-published on popular demand.