For most of us Brits, Sweden conjures up thoughts of “Mama Mia”, flat pack furniture and cars built like tanks. Until IKEA ransacked our homes chucking out the chintz, Abba was their greatest export. Yet, today those canny Swedes are more interested in imports. Possibly, due to a pique of guilt by a country that colonised our homes with IKEA furniture, it is now being colonised itself. They are Europe’s biggest importer (on a per capita basis) of people. Sweden has embraced Mrs Merkel’s open door policy wholeheartedly and has successfully integrated several million new arrivals, predominantly from the Middle East and Africa, with only a few minor problems.
I wanted to find out what living in the Sweden is like for the newcomers.
What attracts people from sunny climes to venture all those miles north to endure Sweden’s harsh winter climate, difficult to learn language and expensive cost of living?
To start with Sweden is an amazingly liberal place where anything goes. Despite having an image of being rather serious and sombre the Swedes today do love to have fun and party, perhaps something that has rubbed off on them from the carefree new arrivals.
In the UK, we celebrate Guy Fawkes and New Year with fireworks and now during Ramadan and Diwali too. The Swedes, meanwhile, enjoy celebrating all year round with random fireworks displays. Mind you, they do not bother with those little boxes of fireworks or even those exploding boomers costing a 100 pounds each, they use military hand grenades instead.
These have arrived from the former Yugoslavia and are easily available in Sweden. The former prime minister Carl Bildt wrote an article, “The Truth about Refugees in Sweden”, in which he argued that the 100,000 refugees Sweden took from Bosnia when he was in power had made Sweden a better country. The ‘explosion’ in grenades to his credit is a by-product of his actions. One gets so much more bang for your buck. If one is lucky, one can catch a display in cities such a Malmo, Gotenberg or the capital Stockholm.
In 2014 the Police recorded 8 of these impromptu displays and in 2016 there were 52 that were recorded. Sweden leads the way in European grenade celebrations. On a world ranking, other than war zones, only Mexico comes close.
Unfortunately, the police have become a little concerned that parents are not supervising their children properly during these parties after an 8 year old British boy by the name of Yussef, while visiting his relatives in Gotenberg, got blown up and killed by one which was thrown from the street into the living room he was sleeping in. Other children have also picked them up in playgrounds but have fortunately not been hurt. In December last year, no doubt due to some youthful over exuberanance, someone threw one at a police station in Uppsala.
It would seem due to a lack of education on correct usage, that in September, a right wing ( therefore somewhat untrustworthy) news outlet reported on how a migrant who fled the Somali Civil War 20 years ago said he was considering moving back to his homeland because Sweden has become a “war zone”.
In the true Swedish style of liberalism, the government are now considering offering a hand grenade amnesty where one can turn in one’s grenade(s) similar to knife amenities in Britain. Though admirable, I feel that the Swedish government, rather than being such party poopers by asking people to give up them up entirely, should educate families to remember not to remove the pin until ready for use. After all, through public service education in the UK, we learnt not to return to a firework once the touch paper is lit. I do hope they offer an exchange programme for those giving up their prized possessions, maybe for the much safer to use rocket propelled grenade (RPG).
An investigation by the Vestmanlands Läns Tidning newspaper (VLT) into the frequent arsons that occur in the Swedish city of Västerås came to a conclusive end, with a confession from a number of young migrant males regarding the destructive behaviour.
“Some feel good to burn cars” said one. Others stated it was due to discrimination.
I asked similar questions of the youth hanging out on street corners and reached more heartening conclusions.
For the newly arrived youth in Sweden, who hail from warmth, sunshine and balmy nights, the Swedish weather takes its toll. In winter when it is minus 10C or more, loittering outside in the chill wind becomes unbearable.
In Britain we all love to come home to a real fire in our drawing room or the snug at our country retreat. There is nothing like cuddling up in front of the open flames with the wood crackling and flames dancing. It is a basic human instinct, so being no different to us, the migrants feel the same.
However, the larger Swedish cities tend not to be near woodland and forestry is a skill migrants never had the opportunity to learn in their homelands. They have plenty of sand back home but not so many trees. To stay warm outside, they need to be resourceful and improvisation is the way. Cars are plentiful in the cities so burning a few, especially if they have a full tank, provides creature comfort through those long winter nights.
In my elevated opinion, these so-called arson attacks simply boil down to a lack of opportunity. Perhaps, if the government were to give them axes and machetes – tools they are familiar with in their homelands – and pick-up trucks they could drive out to the forests to cut the firewood.
As a liberal social commentator, who welcomes a bloated welfare state, is it not time to give them more? It is surely not enough to give them social housing and cash benefits. The most generous welfare benefits in Europe have attracted so many to Sweden, even rejecting Germany as being a bit on the ‘tight’ side, but clearly more would be better. After all, higher rate taxpayers in Sweden pay a meagre 60 pc of their earnings in income tax. That leaves a whopping 40 pc for them to live on. This surplus money could be channeled to further improve the life of the less fortunate migrants.
Relaxing has become the norm for many of Sweden’s new residents. I went to Rinkeby a suburb of Stockholm to talk to them. Some of you may recall the publicity it received in recent years for having sporadic social problems. With a population of approx. 17,000, only 90 percent being of first or second generation immigrant background, it would clearly be wrong to suggest problems are wholly down to the immigrants. After all 10 pc are not.
Known by the nickname of ‘Little Mogadishu’ for its easy going African vibe and relaxed, trouble free culture.
Chilling out is a way of life here, no-one feels a need to get a free education, rush to find work, or rush full stop, when the state looks after their ‘basic’ needs.
My esteemed peers at the The Grauniad last year interviewed a group of Somali and east African origin.
“I have this nice weed,” grined the tallest of them, clad in a thick hooded winter jacket to ward off the icy weather. “You can put that in your article: write ‘Rinkeby is like Amsterdam’. We all smoke this nice weed.”
Much has been talked of sexual urges and emergencies in Sweden. It is of no surprise, since when one thinks of Sweden, one thinks of beautiful, leggy, tall blondes and XXX rated movies. Is it any wonder then that young men and boys from sheltered, conservative backgrounds find themselves surrounded by temptation? A casual grope, a fondle or a full on sexual liason are available just for the taking. No need to ask permission, go on anything as time consuming as a date, or do something as sordid as having to pay a prostitute. Even boys as young as 12 take part – with beards or 5 o’clock shadows at mid-morning – they trawl the streets like fishermen, alone or in groups, looking for a catch.
Sweden has been at the vanguard of womens rights and equality. Feminism is ingrained, rightly so, although the feminists are very understanding and tolerant of those with a different cultural attitude to women.
The feminists prefer not to point fingers at any of the newer ethnic groups for some of the misunderstandings apparent in Swedish society but concentrate their efforts on tackling those mysognistic Swedish men, who we must not forget, descended from the Vikings. Only 1000 or so years ago their ancestors raped and pillaged across Europe and that Viking blood , although diluted, thanks largely to the feminists still runs through their veins. Nowadays, luckily for Swedish society and Europe as a whole, there are no mass hordes to fear, raping, pillaging and plundering.
The Swedish word ‘feminism’ (the same as in English) is a largely unheard of concept in some cultures and is very similar to the word ‘feminin’ in Swedish meaning feminine. It could easily be confused with the sign above the supermarket aisle which only women visit monthly and therefore be seen as a ‘dirty’ word by the newcomers.
In Rinkeby attitudes are much more traditional. Many women wear the niqab or hijab as they feel modesty means they are clearly signalling to the towns men that they feel tired or have a headache. Other women who are more liberal minded and flaunt their wares, prefer to carry pepper spray especially at night to deter any unwanted admirers.
Lastly, on the subject of child refugees, Sweden has been particularly welcoming to them. No checking of papers or invasive medical examination are required. I would like to see Britain be more welcoming in this arena. My good friend Tony and his mon Cherie have done much to promote their charitable endeavours with regard to child refugees. They did in fact give ISAC a preview of their plans last year. For those of you that missed it first time round the link is below:
Until next time it is farewell from me and the wonderfully utopian country that is Sweden. I leave the country comfortable in the knowledge that the Swedes are not turnips.
By our coulumnist Hugh Chattering Islington-Cunt.