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Sweden has suddenly become a proxy battleground in the culture wars. Europe correspondent Nick Miller reports from Malmo, Sweden.

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Sweden culture wars

Sweden has suddenly become a proxy battleground in the culture wars.

Europe correspondent Nick Miller reports from Malmo, Sweden. Malmo, Sweden: Famously neutral Sweden has suddenly become a proxy battleground in the culture wars. “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” US President Donald Trump said last weekend. “Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden!

They took in large numbers [of immigrants]. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.” In a now-infamous couple of sentences, Trump put a blunt finger on one of Europe’s most tender sores and pressed hard.

There was a backlash, and a backlash to the backlash. Outraged Swedes mocked Trump. Fervent Trumpists claimed that a subsequent riot in a Stockholm suburb proved he was not just right, but has extraordinary powers of precognition.

In Sweden many are furious he said it, saying it will do more harm than good and embolden racists. Others are relieved and hope his bullheaded intervention might open minds to a genuine problem. Trump’s statement, taken seriously, made three claims.

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One: “Something happened last night in Sweden.” It turned out that “last night” he’d watched an interview on Fox with the creator of a two-month-old, 10-minute YouTube documentary called Stockholm Syndrome, in which filmmaker Ami Horowitz claimed Sweden had become “the rape capital of Europe” due to its migrant intake.

Two: “They took in large numbers.” This is undeniable. Of 2015’s migration surge into Europe, Germany granted 142,000 asylum applications, followed by Sweden’s 32,000. In terms of asylum applications per 100,000 of local population, Sweden was also second highest.

This was another step down a pre-existing path – a quarter of the country’s population is either immigrant or the child of immigrant parents. Three: “They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked his intelligence services.

US President Donald Trump’s comments on Sweden provoked a backlash and a backlash against the backlash. Photo: Bloomberg This is the crux of the debate.

How real are the problems in Sweden? Are they worse than anywhere else (say, the US)? Were they caused by immigrants and refugees?

Nuanced analysis The documentary that Trump watched brief clips from is deliberately incendiary. “Rape has skyrocketed” in Sweden, Horowitz claimed.

There has been a “shocking … increase in violent crime in general” which corresponds to a “revolutionary demographic shift taking more refugees from Islamic countries” and the country now has “no-go areas” where police will not dare to tread. Asked to back up these claims, Horowitz pointed Fairfax to Swedish police statistics that track to 2015. They show crime rates fairly steady over the past decade, with a detectable decrease in assault, a rise in harassment and – since about 2011 – a sharp uptick in sexual offences.

In 2015, 1.7 per cent of people told police they had been exposed to a sexual offence. In 2014 the figure was 1 per cent (though 2014 was down from 2013). Most of the victims were 16-24-year-old women, and in two-thirds of the cases the perpetrator was completely unknown to the victim.

Percentage exposed to sex offences: Exposure in the population (16-79 years of age) to sex offences, 2005-2015).

Percentage exposed to sex offences: Exposure in the population (16-79 years of age) to sex offences, 2005-2015). Photo: BRA

However, even the raw statistics challenge the notion that this is migrants assaulting Swedes (the common perception, based on some widely publicised assaults at music festivals). It was more common that a victim was the child of migrants than the child of natural-born Swedes. Professor Jerry Sarnecki is a leading criminologist from Stockholm University. “The increasing number of immigrants has not led to an increasing number of crimes in this country” is his considered – but nuanced – view.

For decades studies have consistently showed the over-representation of immigrants among those sentenced or suspected of crime. However, “Sweden has more or less stable or even decreasing number of crimes”, he says – at the same time that Sweden’s migrant population dramatically increased. In other words, migrants tend to arrive in a country as an underclass: poor, unable to find work, often ghettoised.

They may turn to crime. But after a generation this trend returns to the societal norm. They become Swedish, in criminal tendencies at least: a population where crime rates are falling.

Migrants are over-represented particularly in violent crimes and sexual violence. “There are many reasons,” says Professor Sarnecki. “Lower levels of education, problems with the modern, technological society, maybe even some cultural drawbacks.” But over the last few years most of the crime increase “has nothing to do with this influx of people from Syria and other countries”, Professor Sarnecki says.

Offences again individual persons: percentage of the population which fell victim to different types of offences against individuals,

Offences again individual persons: percentage of the population which fell victim to different types of offences against individuals, Photo: BRA

“These people are young, male and maybe even traumatised by war. But the problems which are most acute at the moment are not much related to these people. The biggest criminological problem we have is gang violence in a few particular suburbs to our biggest cities.

There was an increase in shootings – we didn’t have this gun violence at all a few years ago. “Our level of blatant violence is still much lower than other countries – the US or even Finland, but still much more than we had. These are people who came here as children or the children of immigrants.

This is nothing to do with the influx of new immigrants to this country.” Professor Sarnecki says it is “total nonsense” to call Sweden the rape capital of Europe. Statistics are being used misleadingly to attack immigrants, he says.

“Our definition of rape is very broad, extremely broad,” he says. Others have made the same point. Horowitz’s documentary itself pans across a BBC headline “Sweden’s rape rate under the spotlight”.

It fails to note the article was from 2012 (inspired by the Julian Assange extradition case), and below the headline it concluded that Sweden’s rape statistics could not easily be compared to other countries. For example, it noted, Australia is the ‘kidnapping capital of the world’ not because of any particular danger, but because crime statistics in Australia include child custody disputes. Professor Sarnecki says the propensity to report rape in Sweden is much higher than other countries because the strong feminist culture supports victims.

And if a wife tells police her husband raped her 100 times, that goes into the statistics as 100 rapes. He does add there is an increase in reports of less serious sexual assaults in the last three years, which is related to immigration. That includes reports of “young [immigrant] newcomers harassing young women”, he says.

So, the numbers don’t exactly lie. There is a nexus between crime and migration in Sweden. Trouble spots

In December 2015 a police intelligence report identified a link between crime and “areas of social risk”. On their list of “particularly vulnerable areas” was the migrant-heavy suburb of Rinkeby in Stockholm – where Horowitz filmed his documentary, and where this week’s riot “proved” Trump correct. Also on the list was Rosengard, a majority-immigrant suburb of the city of Malmo on the west coast, just opposite Copenhagen.

Police said such areas were characterised by “parallel structures of society” and “violence-promoting religious extremism”. Many residents had a “sense of abandonment, that society and its institutions had turned their backs on them”. Malmo is the cliched Swedish trouble spot (along with Rinkeby – back in 1998 The New York Times ran a piece on the suburb titled ‘A Swedish dilemma: the immigrant ghetto’).

When former UKIP leader Nigel Farage defended Trump’s comments this week he named Malm? the “rape capital of Europe”. Far-right blogger Paul Joseph Watson, editor of Infowars, even offered to pay journalists to “stay in crime ridden migrant suburbs of Malm?” to prove Sweden wasn’t safe.

A square in Malmo. The city has problems which are not easily solved.

A square in Malmo.

The city has problems which are not easily solved. Photo: Nick Miller This really ticked off Nils Karlsson, deputy mayor of Malmo. As did Trump’s original comment.

“It’s irritating. I got a bit angry… He’s not lying, he’s just stupid.

This is just one more piece of the image of Sweden that is spread across the world. “Of course there is a tiny, tiny bit of truth in it. Sweden is not a paradise…

But it doesn’t really help. The problems we have in Sweden with inequality and child poverty and the high unemployment rates, especially among immigrants, it doesn’t get any easier to solve these problems if we also have to compete with an image of Sweden that is just false.” He explains that Malmo was a grey, sooty industrial town, producing textiles and cargo ships, until about 1990 when the economy collapsed and the city reinvented itself around creative, IT and design industries.

That’s part of the problem for migrants – they have language and education challenges that make it much harder to get these kinds of jobs.

Nils Karlsson, deputy mayor Malmo, is frustrated by Donald Trump's comments.

Nils Karlsson, deputy mayor Malmo, is angry at Donald Trump’s comments. Photo: Nick Miller Malmo is a deeply segregated town – the western part is predominantly people born in Sweden with a higher income. People in the eastern half, on average, die eight years earlier.

The migrants, of course, are on the poor side. One third of the city was born outside of Sweden, and more than two-fifths talk a language other than Swedish in their homes. The unemployment rate among migrants is more than four times as high as natives. “But that also tells us those problems are fixed within one generation,” says Karlsson.

“We have probably just thought it will fix itself, that people will want to get integrated – which I think they actually do – by themselves. We have not really had any special programs for doing so. Largely because unemployment didn’t used to be a problem in Sweden, which was a booming industrialised country.

“Due to automation and the new global economy the number of jobs has lessened. It’s easier to get integrated into society if you meet the society. But if you’re stuck in unemployment you really don’t meet any other people than those in the exact same situation, and that is bad for integration.

“So we haven’t really done anything, no specific plans for integration, and that maybe was a mistake.” They are now trying to push mixed schools from both halves of Malmo. But that doesn’t solve the job market problem – or the self-fulfilling prophecy of crime.

“When you talk to kids living in the poorer areas of Malmo some of them think it’s quite cool to be known as the gangster city of the world. “We need to reach out and meet other people. We can’t just sit back passively and wait for integration to happen.”

Michael Booth, author of an affectionately critical book in 2015 The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, is scathing about the claim of “no-go areas” in Sweden. “Is there anywhere I wouldn’t let my wife walk alone at night in Sweden? There are maybe five places like that in Scandinavia, and one of them is because of wolves.

“How many are there in the UK, 1005? And the US? Infinite.

That American perspective makes it seem so absurd.” Uncharted waters But, comparisons aside, he hopes the new spotlight on Sweden’s demographic challenges will force them to take their heads out of the sand on real problems.

There are “some people who are in complete denial that there are any issues there, and other people who say it’s a no-go zone and compare it to Mogadishu. The truth is somewhere in the middle.” Integrating non-Western immigrants is a massive challenge and compared to, for example, France or Britain, the country is very early in the process.

“No one really knows what’s going to happen [or] how Sweden is going to cope with this in the long term. There is a problem in Sweden that was there long before this last refugee crisis of taboo topics and a narrow band of what’s permitted to be discussed in polite society “Probably the biggest problem in Sweden is talking about the issues rather than blocking their ears and going ‘la la la’ and putting their faith in modernity and human nature to carry them through.

“The tactic of labelling anyone who even questions immigration policies as racist – they haven’t really addressed that.”

Migrant children from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration Board, in Marsta, Sweden.

Migrant children from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration Board, in Marsta, Sweden. Photo: AP Most Swedes recognise immigration is necessary to sustain economic growth, and the recent immigration has been a boon for the economy over the last 10 years. They are “in uncharted waters now”, Booth says. “I don’t think they know how to deal with it but my hunch is they’re Swedes, they’re smart, they’re modern, they’re humane – they’ll figure it out.

That’s what I hope.” In Malmo, says Booth, the most striking and urgent problem is actually anti-Semitism. “The Jewish community is being hounded out of the city,” he’s being told.

Annika Henroth Rothstein is a political columnist for Israel Hayom and the Washington Examiner, based in Stockholm. She is also the backbone to Horowitz’s documentary – he interviewed her on the link between migration and crime, which she has been writing on for some time. “[It was] adapted to a specific audience,” she said of the film, which she said was too “dystopian”. “I would not use that tone.

I don’t use expression like ‘the rape capital of the world’. I don’t know that to be true. “There was a lot of hyperbole [from Horowitz] in there.

I only stand by what I said… I think the discussion we need to have in Europe – that isn’t helped by any kind of hyperbole because the issues are grave enough and the situation is dire enough to stand on its own.” She sticks by what she told Horowitz.

She laments that Trump was not clear in the way he talked about it. “His inability to put together coherent sentences is sometimes a little bit frustrating, however, I’m hoping this will result in something positive.” The spotlight is now on something she has been writing on for years, but she says Sweden does not want to talk about: the problems in society caused by migration. As a Jewish writer she has a particular perspective: her children have been the victims of anti-Semitic attacks at school from Muslim students.

“The facts on the ground are that we have imported a lot of anti-Semitism, that’s how I experienced it firsthand.” As she started writing about the issue she realised society was changing more broadly, she said. Economically the level of migration was unsustainable, due to the country’s generous welfare benefits.

And she saw a “clash of cultures”, a very liberal society with “institutionalised’ gender equality that had imported people from areas that were not liberal and did not have the same views on gender and equality. “The problem is the culture of silence that exists in this country has made sure that we are afraid to educate the people who arrive here, we are afraid to set certain standards, to make certain demands on what it takes to be Swedish.” This was to blame for the level of sexual assaults, she said.

Sexual assaults by migrants were covered up and allowed to “fester” she says. “My fear, as I see it all over Europe now is we have far-right parties growing, exponentially. They don’t even have to campaign because of this and it scares me half to death.

“[Sweden’ far-right] party was affiliated with the Nazis during the war but they are now a socially accepted party. I can’t blame any of the hundreds of thousands of people who vote for them, who see it as the only alternative because they are desperate and fearful. I recognise that fear in myself because I am fearful when my children are victims of anti-Semitic attacks in their schools and that is not taken as seriously as, for example, someone speaking up against Muslims.

“Society is gung-ho about welcoming all refugees, and they are not accepting that it comes with a set of responsibilities and a set of problems. If we are trying to blend these two cultures then we have to do it actively. “It is not about scale.

This idea that women are getting raped left, right and centre is just not true. “But I see liberal ideas dying before my eyes because of nervousness, a cowardly attitude towards just dealing openly with affront on human values. That’s the problem I’m trying to address.”

With the help, in a way, of the leader of the free world. “Maybe Trump by accident has been able to open the floodgates of something that has needed to be opened for a long time,” says Rothstein. “I hope so.

I’m doubtful.

But it’s really important not to put this on his lap.

He is the symptom, he’s not the disease.”

The Swedish migrant crime story that Donald Trump didn’t tell

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Sweden has suddenly become a proxy battleground in the culture wars. Europe correspondent Nick Miller reports from Malmo, Sweden.

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Sweden culture wars

Sweden has suddenly become a proxy battleground in the culture wars.

Europe correspondent Nick Miller reports from Malmo, Sweden. Malmo, Sweden: Famously neutral Sweden has suddenly become a proxy battleground in the culture wars. “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” US President Donald Trump said last weekend. “Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden!

They took in large numbers [of immigrants]. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.” In a now-infamous couple of sentences, Trump put a blunt finger on one of Europe’s most tender sores and pressed hard.

There was a backlash, and a backlash to the backlash. Outraged Swedes mocked Trump. Fervent Trumpists claimed that a subsequent riot in a Stockholm suburb proved he was not just right, but has extraordinary powers of precognition.

In Sweden many are furious he said it, saying it will do more harm than good and embolden racists. Others are relieved and hope his bullheaded intervention might open minds to a genuine problem. Trump’s statement, taken seriously, made three claims.

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One: “Something happened last night in Sweden.” It turned out that “last night” he’d watched an interview on Fox with the creator of a two-month-old, 10-minute YouTube documentary called Stockholm Syndrome, in which filmmaker Ami Horowitz claimed Sweden had become “the rape capital of Europe” due to its migrant intake.

Two: “They took in large numbers.” This is undeniable. Of 2015’s migration surge into Europe, Germany granted 142,000 asylum applications, followed by Sweden’s 32,000. In terms of asylum applications per 100,000 of local population, Sweden was also second highest.

This was another step down a pre-existing path – a quarter of the country’s population is either immigrant or the child of immigrant parents. Three: “They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked his intelligence services.

US President Donald Trump’s comments on Sweden provoked a backlash and a backlash against the backlash. Photo: Bloomberg This is the crux of the debate.

How real are the problems in Sweden? Are they worse than anywhere else (say, the US)? Were they caused by immigrants and refugees?

Nuanced analysis The documentary that Trump watched brief clips from is deliberately incendiary. “Rape has skyrocketed” in Sweden, Horowitz claimed.

There has been a “shocking … increase in violent crime in general” which corresponds to a “revolutionary demographic shift taking more refugees from Islamic countries” and the country now has “no-go areas” where police will not dare to tread. Asked to back up these claims, Horowitz pointed Fairfax to Swedish police statistics that track to 2015. They show crime rates fairly steady over the past decade, with a detectable decrease in assault, a rise in harassment and – since about 2011 – a sharp uptick in sexual offences.

In 2015, 1.7 per cent of people told police they had been exposed to a sexual offence. In 2014 the figure was 1 per cent (though 2014 was down from 2013). Most of the victims were 16-24-year-old women, and in two-thirds of the cases the perpetrator was completely unknown to the victim.

Percentage exposed to sex offences: Exposure in the population (16-79 years of age) to sex offences, 2005-2015).

Percentage exposed to sex offences: Exposure in the population (16-79 years of age) to sex offences, 2005-2015). Photo: BRA

However, even the raw statistics challenge the notion that this is migrants assaulting Swedes (the common perception, based on some widely publicised assaults at music festivals). It was more common that a victim was the child of migrants than the child of natural-born Swedes. Professor Jerry Sarnecki is a leading criminologist from Stockholm University. “The increasing number of immigrants has not led to an increasing number of crimes in this country” is his considered – but nuanced – view.

For decades studies have consistently showed the over-representation of immigrants among those sentenced or suspected of crime. However, “Sweden has more or less stable or even decreasing number of crimes”, he says – at the same time that Sweden’s migrant population dramatically increased. In other words, migrants tend to arrive in a country as an underclass: poor, unable to find work, often ghettoised.

They may turn to crime. But after a generation this trend returns to the societal norm. They become Swedish, in criminal tendencies at least: a population where crime rates are falling.

Migrants are over-represented particularly in violent crimes and sexual violence. “There are many reasons,” says Professor Sarnecki. “Lower levels of education, problems with the modern, technological society, maybe even some cultural drawbacks.” But over the last few years most of the crime increase “has nothing to do with this influx of people from Syria and other countries”, Professor Sarnecki says.

Offences again individual persons: percentage of the population which fell victim to different types of offences against individuals,

Offences again individual persons: percentage of the population which fell victim to different types of offences against individuals, Photo: BRA

“These people are young, male and maybe even traumatised by war. But the problems which are most acute at the moment are not much related to these people. The biggest criminological problem we have is gang violence in a few particular suburbs to our biggest cities.

There was an increase in shootings – we didn’t have this gun violence at all a few years ago. “Our level of blatant violence is still much lower than other countries – the US or even Finland, but still much more than we had. These are people who came here as children or the children of immigrants.

This is nothing to do with the influx of new immigrants to this country.” Professor Sarnecki says it is “total nonsense” to call Sweden the rape capital of Europe. Statistics are being used misleadingly to attack immigrants, he says.

“Our definition of rape is very broad, extremely broad,” he says. Others have made the same point. Horowitz’s documentary itself pans across a BBC headline “Sweden’s rape rate under the spotlight”.

It fails to note the article was from 2012 (inspired by the Julian Assange extradition case), and below the headline it concluded that Sweden’s rape statistics could not easily be compared to other countries. For example, it noted, Australia is the ‘kidnapping capital of the world’ not because of any particular danger, but because crime statistics in Australia include child custody disputes. Professor Sarnecki says the propensity to report rape in Sweden is much higher than other countries because the strong feminist culture supports victims.

And if a wife tells police her husband raped her 100 times, that goes into the statistics as 100 rapes. He does add there is an increase in reports of less serious sexual assaults in the last three years, which is related to immigration. That includes reports of “young [immigrant] newcomers harassing young women”, he says.

So, the numbers don’t exactly lie. There is a nexus between crime and migration in Sweden. Trouble spots

In December 2015 a police intelligence report identified a link between crime and “areas of social risk”. On their list of “particularly vulnerable areas” was the migrant-heavy suburb of Rinkeby in Stockholm – where Horowitz filmed his documentary, and where this week’s riot “proved” Trump correct. Also on the list was Rosengard, a majority-immigrant suburb of the city of Malmo on the west coast, just opposite Copenhagen.

Police said such areas were characterised by “parallel structures of society” and “violence-promoting religious extremism”. Many residents had a “sense of abandonment, that society and its institutions had turned their backs on them”. Malmo is the cliched Swedish trouble spot (along with Rinkeby – back in 1998 The New York Times ran a piece on the suburb titled ‘A Swedish dilemma: the immigrant ghetto’).

When former UKIP leader Nigel Farage defended Trump’s comments this week he named Malm? the “rape capital of Europe”. Far-right blogger Paul Joseph Watson, editor of Infowars, even offered to pay journalists to “stay in crime ridden migrant suburbs of Malm?” to prove Sweden wasn’t safe.

A square in Malmo. The city has problems which are not easily solved.

A square in Malmo.

The city has problems which are not easily solved. Photo: Nick Miller This really ticked off Nils Karlsson, deputy mayor of Malmo. As did Trump’s original comment.

“It’s irritating. I got a bit angry… He’s not lying, he’s just stupid.

This is just one more piece of the image of Sweden that is spread across the world. “Of course there is a tiny, tiny bit of truth in it. Sweden is not a paradise…

But it doesn’t really help. The problems we have in Sweden with inequality and child poverty and the high unemployment rates, especially among immigrants, it doesn’t get any easier to solve these problems if we also have to compete with an image of Sweden that is just false.” He explains that Malmo was a grey, sooty industrial town, producing textiles and cargo ships, until about 1990 when the economy collapsed and the city reinvented itself around creative, IT and design industries.

That’s part of the problem for migrants – they have language and education challenges that make it much harder to get these kinds of jobs.

Nils Karlsson, deputy mayor Malmo, is frustrated by Donald Trump's comments.

Nils Karlsson, deputy mayor Malmo, is angry at Donald Trump’s comments. Photo: Nick Miller Malmo is a deeply segregated town – the western part is predominantly people born in Sweden with a higher income. People in the eastern half, on average, die eight years earlier.

The migrants, of course, are on the poor side. One third of the city was born outside of Sweden, and more than two-fifths talk a language other than Swedish in their homes. The unemployment rate among migrants is more than four times as high as natives. “But that also tells us those problems are fixed within one generation,” says Karlsson.

“We have probably just thought it will fix itself, that people will want to get integrated – which I think they actually do – by themselves. We have not really had any special programs for doing so. Largely because unemployment didn’t used to be a problem in Sweden, which was a booming industrialised country.

“Due to automation and the new global economy the number of jobs has lessened. It’s easier to get integrated into society if you meet the society. But if you’re stuck in unemployment you really don’t meet any other people than those in the exact same situation, and that is bad for integration.

“So we haven’t really done anything, no specific plans for integration, and that maybe was a mistake.” They are now trying to push mixed schools from both halves of Malmo. But that doesn’t solve the job market problem – or the self-fulfilling prophecy of crime.

“When you talk to kids living in the poorer areas of Malmo some of them think it’s quite cool to be known as the gangster city of the world. “We need to reach out and meet other people. We can’t just sit back passively and wait for integration to happen.”

Michael Booth, author of an affectionately critical book in 2015 The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, is scathing about the claim of “no-go areas” in Sweden. “Is there anywhere I wouldn’t let my wife walk alone at night in Sweden? There are maybe five places like that in Scandinavia, and one of them is because of wolves.

“How many are there in the UK, 1005? And the US? Infinite.

That American perspective makes it seem so absurd.” Uncharted waters But, comparisons aside, he hopes the new spotlight on Sweden’s demographic challenges will force them to take their heads out of the sand on real problems.

There are “some people who are in complete denial that there are any issues there, and other people who say it’s a no-go zone and compare it to Mogadishu. The truth is somewhere in the middle.” Integrating non-Western immigrants is a massive challenge and compared to, for example, France or Britain, the country is very early in the process.

“No one really knows what’s going to happen [or] how Sweden is going to cope with this in the long term. There is a problem in Sweden that was there long before this last refugee crisis of taboo topics and a narrow band of what’s permitted to be discussed in polite society “Probably the biggest problem in Sweden is talking about the issues rather than blocking their ears and going ‘la la la’ and putting their faith in modernity and human nature to carry them through.

“The tactic of labelling anyone who even questions immigration policies as racist – they haven’t really addressed that.”

Migrant children from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration Board, in Marsta, Sweden.

Migrant children from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration Board, in Marsta, Sweden. Photo: AP Most Swedes recognise immigration is necessary to sustain economic growth, and the recent immigration has been a boon for the economy over the last 10 years. They are “in uncharted waters now”, Booth says. “I don’t think they know how to deal with it but my hunch is they’re Swedes, they’re smart, they’re modern, they’re humane – they’ll figure it out.

That’s what I hope.” In Malmo, says Booth, the most striking and urgent problem is actually anti-Semitism. “The Jewish community is being hounded out of the city,” he’s being told.

Annika Henroth Rothstein is a political columnist for Israel Hayom and the Washington Examiner, based in Stockholm. She is also the backbone to Horowitz’s documentary – he interviewed her on the link between migration and crime, which she has been writing on for some time. “[It was] adapted to a specific audience,” she said of the film, which she said was too “dystopian”. “I would not use that tone.

I don’t use expression like ‘the rape capital of the world’. I don’t know that to be true. “There was a lot of hyperbole [from Horowitz] in there.

I only stand by what I said… I think the discussion we need to have in Europe – that isn’t helped by any kind of hyperbole because the issues are grave enough and the situation is dire enough to stand on its own.” She sticks by what she told Horowitz.

She laments that Trump was not clear in the way he talked about it. “His inability to put together coherent sentences is sometimes a little bit frustrating, however, I’m hoping this will result in something positive.” The spotlight is now on something she has been writing on for years, but she says Sweden does not want to talk about: the problems in society caused by migration. As a Jewish writer she has a particular perspective: her children have been the victims of anti-Semitic attacks at school from Muslim students.

“The facts on the ground are that we have imported a lot of anti-Semitism, that’s how I experienced it firsthand.” As she started writing about the issue she realised society was changing more broadly, she said. Economically the level of migration was unsustainable, due to the country’s generous welfare benefits.

And she saw a “clash of cultures”, a very liberal society with “institutionalised’ gender equality that had imported people from areas that were not liberal and did not have the same views on gender and equality. “The problem is the culture of silence that exists in this country has made sure that we are afraid to educate the people who arrive here, we are afraid to set certain standards, to make certain demands on what it takes to be Swedish.” This was to blame for the level of sexual assaults, she said.

Sexual assaults by migrants were covered up and allowed to “fester” she says. “My fear, as I see it all over Europe now is we have far-right parties growing, exponentially. They don’t even have to campaign because of this and it scares me half to death.

“[Sweden’ far-right] party was affiliated with the Nazis during the war but they are now a socially accepted party. I can’t blame any of the hundreds of thousands of people who vote for them, who see it as the only alternative because they are desperate and fearful. I recognise that fear in myself because I am fearful when my children are victims of anti-Semitic attacks in their schools and that is not taken as seriously as, for example, someone speaking up against Muslims.

“Society is gung-ho about welcoming all refugees, and they are not accepting that it comes with a set of responsibilities and a set of problems. If we are trying to blend these two cultures then we have to do it actively. “It is not about scale.

This idea that women are getting raped left, right and centre is just not true. “But I see liberal ideas dying before my eyes because of nervousness, a cowardly attitude towards just dealing openly with affront on human values. That’s the problem I’m trying to address.”

With the help, in a way, of the leader of the free world. “Maybe Trump by accident has been able to open the floodgates of something that has needed to be opened for a long time,” says Rothstein. “I hope so.

I’m doubtful.

But it’s really important not to put this on his lap.

He is the symptom, he’s not the disease.”

The Swedish migrant crime story that Donald Trump didn’t tell

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Sweden culture wars

Sweden has suddenly become a proxy battleground in the culture wars.

Europe correspondent Nick Miller reports from Malmo, Sweden. Malmo, Sweden: Famously neutral Sweden has suddenly become a proxy battleground in the culture wars. “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” US President Donald Trump said last weekend. “Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden!

They took in large numbers [of immigrants]. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.” In a now-infamous couple of sentences, Trump put a blunt finger on one of Europe’s most tender sores and pressed hard.

There was a backlash, and a backlash to the backlash. Outraged Swedes mocked Trump. Fervent Trumpists claimed that a subsequent riot in a Stockholm suburb proved he was not just right, but has extraordinary powers of precognition.

In Sweden many are furious he said it, saying it will do more harm than good and embolden racists. Others are relieved and hope his bullheaded intervention might open minds to a genuine problem. Trump’s statement, taken seriously, made three claims.

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One: “Something happened last night in Sweden.” It turned out that “last night” he’d watched an interview on Fox with the creator of a two-month-old, 10-minute YouTube documentary called Stockholm Syndrome, in which filmmaker Ami Horowitz claimed Sweden had become “the rape capital of Europe” due to its migrant intake.

Two: “They took in large numbers.” This is undeniable. Of 2015’s migration surge into Europe, Germany granted 142,000 asylum applications, followed by Sweden’s 32,000. In terms of asylum applications per 100,000 of local population, Sweden was also second highest.

This was another step down a pre-existing path – a quarter of the country’s population is either immigrant or the child of immigrant parents. Three: “They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked his intelligence services.

US President Donald Trump’s comments on Sweden provoked a backlash and a backlash against the backlash. Photo: Bloomberg This is the crux of the debate.

How real are the problems in Sweden? Are they worse than anywhere else (say, the US)? Were they caused by immigrants and refugees?

Nuanced analysis The documentary that Trump watched brief clips from is deliberately incendiary. “Rape has skyrocketed” in Sweden, Horowitz claimed.

There has been a “shocking … increase in violent crime in general” which corresponds to a “revolutionary demographic shift taking more refugees from Islamic countries” and the country now has “no-go areas” where police will not dare to tread. Asked to back up these claims, Horowitz pointed Fairfax to Swedish police statistics that track to 2015. They show crime rates fairly steady over the past decade, with a detectable decrease in assault, a rise in harassment and – since about 2011 – a sharp uptick in sexual offences.

In 2015, 1.7 per cent of people told police they had been exposed to a sexual offence. In 2014 the figure was 1 per cent (though 2014 was down from 2013). Most of the victims were 16-24-year-old women, and in two-thirds of the cases the perpetrator was completely unknown to the victim.

Percentage exposed to sex offences: Exposure in the population (16-79 years of age) to sex offences, 2005-2015).

Percentage exposed to sex offences: Exposure in the population (16-79 years of age) to sex offences, 2005-2015). Photo: BRA

However, even the raw statistics challenge the notion that this is migrants assaulting Swedes (the common perception, based on some widely publicised assaults at music festivals). It was more common that a victim was the child of migrants than the child of natural-born Swedes. Professor Jerry Sarnecki is a leading criminologist from Stockholm University. “The increasing number of immigrants has not led to an increasing number of crimes in this country” is his considered – but nuanced – view.

For decades studies have consistently showed the over-representation of immigrants among those sentenced or suspected of crime. However, “Sweden has more or less stable or even decreasing number of crimes”, he says – at the same time that Sweden’s migrant population dramatically increased. In other words, migrants tend to arrive in a country as an underclass: poor, unable to find work, often ghettoised.

They may turn to crime. But after a generation this trend returns to the societal norm. They become Swedish, in criminal tendencies at least: a population where crime rates are falling.

Migrants are over-represented particularly in violent crimes and sexual violence. “There are many reasons,” says Professor Sarnecki. “Lower levels of education, problems with the modern, technological society, maybe even some cultural drawbacks.” But over the last few years most of the crime increase “has nothing to do with this influx of people from Syria and other countries”, Professor Sarnecki says.

Offences again individual persons: percentage of the population which fell victim to different types of offences against individuals,

Offences again individual persons: percentage of the population which fell victim to different types of offences against individuals, Photo: BRA

“These people are young, male and maybe even traumatised by war. But the problems which are most acute at the moment are not much related to these people. The biggest criminological problem we have is gang violence in a few particular suburbs to our biggest cities.

There was an increase in shootings – we didn’t have this gun violence at all a few years ago. “Our level of blatant violence is still much lower than other countries – the US or even Finland, but still much more than we had. These are people who came here as children or the children of immigrants.

This is nothing to do with the influx of new immigrants to this country.” Professor Sarnecki says it is “total nonsense” to call Sweden the rape capital of Europe. Statistics are being used misleadingly to attack immigrants, he says.

“Our definition of rape is very broad, extremely broad,” he says. Others have made the same point. Horowitz’s documentary itself pans across a BBC headline “Sweden’s rape rate under the spotlight”.

It fails to note the article was from 2012 (inspired by the Julian Assange extradition case), and below the headline it concluded that Sweden’s rape statistics could not easily be compared to other countries. For example, it noted, Australia is the ‘kidnapping capital of the world’ not because of any particular danger, but because crime statistics in Australia include child custody disputes. Professor Sarnecki says the propensity to report rape in Sweden is much higher than other countries because the strong feminist culture supports victims.

And if a wife tells police her husband raped her 100 times, that goes into the statistics as 100 rapes. He does add there is an increase in reports of less serious sexual assaults in the last three years, which is related to immigration. That includes reports of “young [immigrant] newcomers harassing young women”, he says.

So, the numbers don’t exactly lie. There is a nexus between crime and migration in Sweden. Trouble spots

In December 2015 a police intelligence report identified a link between crime and “areas of social risk”. On their list of “particularly vulnerable areas” was the migrant-heavy suburb of Rinkeby in Stockholm – where Horowitz filmed his documentary, and where this week’s riot “proved” Trump correct. Also on the list was Rosengard, a majority-immigrant suburb of the city of Malmo on the west coast, just opposite Copenhagen.

Police said such areas were characterised by “parallel structures of society” and “violence-promoting religious extremism”. Many residents had a “sense of abandonment, that society and its institutions had turned their backs on them”. Malmo is the cliched Swedish trouble spot (along with Rinkeby – back in 1998 The New York Times ran a piece on the suburb titled ‘A Swedish dilemma: the immigrant ghetto’).

When former UKIP leader Nigel Farage defended Trump’s comments this week he named Malm? the “rape capital of Europe”. Far-right blogger Paul Joseph Watson, editor of Infowars, even offered to pay journalists to “stay in crime ridden migrant suburbs of Malm?” to prove Sweden wasn’t safe.

A square in Malmo. The city has problems which are not easily solved.

A square in Malmo.

The city has problems which are not easily solved. Photo: Nick Miller This really ticked off Nils Karlsson, deputy mayor of Malmo. As did Trump’s original comment.

“It’s irritating. I got a bit angry… He’s not lying, he’s just stupid.

This is just one more piece of the image of Sweden that is spread across the world. “Of course there is a tiny, tiny bit of truth in it. Sweden is not a paradise…

But it doesn’t really help. The problems we have in Sweden with inequality and child poverty and the high unemployment rates, especially among immigrants, it doesn’t get any easier to solve these problems if we also have to compete with an image of Sweden that is just false.” He explains that Malmo was a grey, sooty industrial town, producing textiles and cargo ships, until about 1990 when the economy collapsed and the city reinvented itself around creative, IT and design industries.

That’s part of the problem for migrants – they have language and education challenges that make it much harder to get these kinds of jobs.

Nils Karlsson, deputy mayor Malmo, is frustrated by Donald Trump's comments.

Nils Karlsson, deputy mayor Malmo, is angry at Donald Trump’s comments. Photo: Nick Miller Malmo is a deeply segregated town – the western part is predominantly people born in Sweden with a higher income. People in the eastern half, on average, die eight years earlier.

The migrants, of course, are on the poor side. One third of the city was born outside of Sweden, and more than two-fifths talk a language other than Swedish in their homes. The unemployment rate among migrants is more than four times as high as natives. “But that also tells us those problems are fixed within one generation,” says Karlsson.

“We have probably just thought it will fix itself, that people will want to get integrated – which I think they actually do – by themselves. We have not really had any special programs for doing so. Largely because unemployment didn’t used to be a problem in Sweden, which was a booming industrialised country.

“Due to automation and the new global economy the number of jobs has lessened. It’s easier to get integrated into society if you meet the society. But if you’re stuck in unemployment you really don’t meet any other people than those in the exact same situation, and that is bad for integration.

“So we haven’t really done anything, no specific plans for integration, and that maybe was a mistake.” They are now trying to push mixed schools from both halves of Malmo. But that doesn’t solve the job market problem – or the self-fulfilling prophecy of crime.

“When you talk to kids living in the poorer areas of Malmo some of them think it’s quite cool to be known as the gangster city of the world. “We need to reach out and meet other people. We can’t just sit back passively and wait for integration to happen.”

Michael Booth, author of an affectionately critical book in 2015 The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, is scathing about the claim of “no-go areas” in Sweden. “Is there anywhere I wouldn’t let my wife walk alone at night in Sweden? There are maybe five places like that in Scandinavia, and one of them is because of wolves.

“How many are there in the UK, 1005? And the US? Infinite.

That American perspective makes it seem so absurd.” Uncharted waters But, comparisons aside, he hopes the new spotlight on Sweden’s demographic challenges will force them to take their heads out of the sand on real problems.

There are “some people who are in complete denial that there are any issues there, and other people who say it’s a no-go zone and compare it to Mogadishu. The truth is somewhere in the middle.” Integrating non-Western immigrants is a massive challenge and compared to, for example, France or Britain, the country is very early in the process.

“No one really knows what’s going to happen [or] how Sweden is going to cope with this in the long term. There is a problem in Sweden that was there long before this last refugee crisis of taboo topics and a narrow band of what’s permitted to be discussed in polite society “Probably the biggest problem in Sweden is talking about the issues rather than blocking their ears and going ‘la la la’ and putting their faith in modernity and human nature to carry them through.

“The tactic of labelling anyone who even questions immigration policies as racist – they haven’t really addressed that.”

Migrant children from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration Board, in Marsta, Sweden.

Migrant children from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration Board, in Marsta, Sweden. Photo: AP Most Swedes recognise immigration is necessary to sustain economic growth, and the recent immigration has been a boon for the economy over the last 10 years. They are “in uncharted waters now”, Booth says. “I don’t think they know how to deal with it but my hunch is they’re Swedes, they’re smart, they’re modern, they’re humane – they’ll figure it out.

That’s what I hope.” In Malmo, says Booth, the most striking and urgent problem is actually anti-Semitism. “The Jewish community is being hounded out of the city,” he’s being told.

Annika Henroth Rothstein is a political columnist for Israel Hayom and the Washington Examiner, based in Stockholm. She is also the backbone to Horowitz’s documentary – he interviewed her on the link between migration and crime, which she has been writing on for some time. “[It was] adapted to a specific audience,” she said of the film, which she said was too “dystopian”. “I would not use that tone.

I don’t use expression like ‘the rape capital of the world’. I don’t know that to be true. “There was a lot of hyperbole [from Horowitz] in there.

I only stand by what I said… I think the discussion we need to have in Europe – that isn’t helped by any kind of hyperbole because the issues are grave enough and the situation is dire enough to stand on its own.” She sticks by what she told Horowitz.

She laments that Trump was not clear in the way he talked about it. “His inability to put together coherent sentences is sometimes a little bit frustrating, however, I’m hoping this will result in something positive.” The spotlight is now on something she has been writing on for years, but she says Sweden does not want to talk about: the problems in society caused by migration. As a Jewish writer she has a particular perspective: her children have been the victims of anti-Semitic attacks at school from Muslim students.

“The facts on the ground are that we have imported a lot of anti-Semitism, that’s how I experienced it firsthand.” As she started writing about the issue she realised society was changing more broadly, she said. Economically the level of migration was unsustainable, due to the country’s generous welfare benefits.

And she saw a “clash of cultures”, a very liberal society with “institutionalised’ gender equality that had imported people from areas that were not liberal and did not have the same views on gender and equality. “The problem is the culture of silence that exists in this country has made sure that we are afraid to educate the people who arrive here, we are afraid to set certain standards, to make certain demands on what it takes to be Swedish.” This was to blame for the level of sexual assaults, she said.

Sexual assaults by migrants were covered up and allowed to “fester” she says. “My fear, as I see it all over Europe now is we have far-right parties growing, exponentially. They don’t even have to campaign because of this and it scares me half to death.

“[Sweden’ far-right] party was affiliated with the Nazis during the war but they are now a socially accepted party. I can’t blame any of the hundreds of thousands of people who vote for them, who see it as the only alternative because they are desperate and fearful. I recognise that fear in myself because I am fearful when my children are victims of anti-Semitic attacks in their schools and that is not taken as seriously as, for example, someone speaking up against Muslims.

“Society is gung-ho about welcoming all refugees, and they are not accepting that it comes with a set of responsibilities and a set of problems. If we are trying to blend these two cultures then we have to do it actively. “It is not about scale.

This idea that women are getting raped left, right and centre is just not true. “But I see liberal ideas dying before my eyes because of nervousness, a cowardly attitude towards just dealing openly with affront on human values. That’s the problem I’m trying to address.”

With the help, in a way, of the leader of the free world. “Maybe Trump by accident has been able to open the floodgates of something that has needed to be opened for a long time,” says Rothstein. “I hope so.

I’m doubtful.

But it’s really important not to put this on his lap.

He is the symptom, he’s not the disease.”