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Yes, Sweden Is a Paradise Lost—but Not Because of Immigration

Posted on Apr 20, 2017

By Kajsa Ekis Ekman

(Page 3)

While the U.S. closes its doors to citizens of these countries, Sweden has opened them. There are more Iraqis and Syrians in Sweden than in the whole of the U.S. Despite often having higher education, many of the newcomers filled up job sectors including house cleaning, taxi driving, and restaurant work, causing Swedes who previously held those jobs to move up the ladder. Often employers use a lack of language skills to cheat newly arrived workers of their contracts and other rights.

The widening class gaps have thus acquired an ethnic dimension. The Southern European immigrants who came to work for Volvo in the 1960s also faced racism and prejudice, but this never became a political issue because there was no material conflict. Now Swedes believe they’ve been robbed of a middle-class future, and the country’s economic situation looks ever more dog-eat-dog.

We compete with each other for jobs, houses and schools for our children. Everyone is blaming everyone across the spectrum—Swedes blame immigrants, old immigrants blame newcomers, women blame men, the rich blame the poor and so on. Since we do not use cars to the same extent as Americans do, to live in the inner cities is a privilege reserved for the upper classes. In the near suburbs resides the middle class, and the further out you go, the more unemployment rises. In some suburbs, unemployment is as high as 25 percent. Sweden’s cities are not segregated the way American cities are—we don’t have Chinatowns, Muslim or Italian areas. Rather neighborhoods are segregated by class, which means poor Swedes and poor immigrants from all over the world live in the same areas.

So there is new poverty, yes. There are class gaps, yes. There is frustration, yes. But there is no ethnic war going on. There are no areas where one cannot go—so-called “no go zones”—and there definitely aren’t zones ruled by Sharia law. In the week after the truck attack in Stockholm that killed four people, my city has shown a sense of community, solidarity and strength which is atypical of Stockholm (or so the rest of Sweden thinks). Swedes and immigrants have stood together, helped each other and gathered in masses to mourn the victims. Those who claimed the terrorist attack would lead to hatred and division have been proven wrong.

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