Citing “freedom of speech” and the possibility that expelled migrants risk “persecution” if sent back to their homelands, Sweden’s Justice Minister rejected Erik Nord’s call to deport Islamic State-supporting migrants and demanded the police chief “explain himself”.
“Not because it would have prevented Friday’s attack but surely we should be able to withdraw Swedish residency rights from people who support violent extremism,” wrote the Greater Gothenburg police chief on Sunday, two days after an alleged terror attack in Stockholm in which four people died and many were injured.
But government minister Morgan Johansson slapped down Nord’s “problematic” suggestion, for which he said the police chief needs to “explain himself”.
“We have freedom of speech in Sweden. This means people have the right to hold repulsive opinions here,” said Johansson.
“But there are always limits… For example when it comes to hate speech,” he added.
Asserting that migrants with residence permits are in Sweden because they are in need of protection, the Social Democratic party politician warned that “there is a risk [migrants who support violent extremism] could face persecution if they were sent back”.
Nord told the Gothenburg Post on Sunday: “We should be able to tell non-citizens who are going around proposing the nation become a totalitarian state, be it political or religious, that they have to go back home where they belong.”
Noting how currently Sweden can only deport individuals found guilty of committing or funding acts of terror, the police chief argued that it should also be possible for the nation to expel people who say they support groups which back violent extremism.
“Sure there are going to be people who say ISIS is great and that religious extremism is fantastic. But then I don’t think these people should be allowed to stay in Sweden where they are bankrolled and have their lifestyles paid for by the government.”
“Islam itself is not extreme, but there are forms of Islamism and jihad which are causing problems,” he continued. “At this point in time, we know that there are many people going around and giving lectures in support of this sort of extremism.
“I just don’t think it’s fair,” Nord added, telling the newspaper that police receive intelligence about Islamist preachers “all the time”.
“It’s disgusting that we allow bad people to canvass here, waving ISIS flags,” said Nord. “It’s an insult to those who have fled from Islamic State.”
“I realise that the things I’m saying here could be read as political statements. But we’re living in a new reality now in which, sometimes, it’s important that we be allowed to talk about things we observe,” he told Expressen.