Riots Erupt in Sweden’s Capital Just Days After Trump Comments

Max Bearak, Washington Post, February 21, 2017

Just two days after President Trump provoked widespread consternation by seeming to imply, incorrectly, that immigrants had perpetrated a recent spate of violence in Sweden, riots broke out in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in the northern suburbs of the country’s capital, Stockholm.

The neighborhood, Rinkeby, was the scene of riots in 2010 and 2013, too. And in most ways, what happened Monday night was reminiscent of those earlier bouts of anger. Swedish police apparently made an arrest about 8 p.m. near the Rinkeby station. For reasons not yet disclosed by the police, word of the arrest prompted youths to gather.

Over four hours, the crowd burned about half a dozen cars, vandalized several shopfronts and threw rocks at police. Police spokesman Lars Bystrom confirmed to Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper that an officer fired shots at a rioter but missed. A photographer for the newspaper was attacked by more than a dozen men and his camera was stolen, but ultimately no one was hurt or even arrested.

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In 2015, when the influx of refugees and migrants to Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia was at its peak, Sweden took in the greatest number per capita. By and large, integration has been a success story there, save for incidents such as Monday night’s, which have taken place in highly segregated neighborhoods.

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Multiple criminologists in Sweden contacted by The Washington Post over the weekend said the notion that immigrants were responsible for a large proportion of crime in the country was highly exaggerated. None were comfortable referring to neighborhoods such as Rinkeby as “no-go zones.”

Nevertheless, the integration of immigrants into Swedish society is a problem that the government has been struggling to address. “Sweden, definitely, like other countries, [faces] challenges when it comes to integration of immigrants into Swedish society, with lower levels of employment, tendencies of exclusion and also crime-related problems,” said Henrik Selin, director of intercultural dialogue at the Swedish Institute.

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