A persistent flow of migrants from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, in combination with a lackluster economy and a growing fear of Islamic radicalism, is fueling anti-Muslim sentiment in Sweden.
An Anti-Muslim movement is finding a foothold in Sweden, “where a solid core of citizens still supports the 65-year-old open door policy toward immigrants facing hardship that has long earned international respect for the country,” reports The New York Times (NYT).
As of January 2, there had been three suspected arson attacks on mosques in Sweden over a ten-day period, including one on Christmas Day.
A “relentless stream of migrants to Europe–propelled by the war in Syria and turmoil across the Middle East and the Horn of Africa–has combined with economic troubles and rising fear of Islamic radicalism to fuel a backlash against immigrants,” notes the Times, adding that this has been “directed most viciously at Muslims.”
Citing the D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute, NYT points out that Sweden received the third-highest number of asylum seekers in 2012, after Germany and France.
According to the Swedish Migration Board, about half the 81,000 people seeking asylum in Sweden in 2014 were from war-ravaged Syria.
Last week, Breitbart News reported:
The series of mosque attacks follows the surge in popularity of the “Sweden Democrats” party, a far-right anti-immigration party. (The phrase “far right” has different meanings in Europe and America.) The party won 13% of the vote in September elections, and recent polls put the party’s support at over 17%. In early December, the Sweden Democrats precipitated a government crisis by withdrawing its approval of the government’s proposed budget.
The entry of the Swedish Democrats to Parliament in 2010 has paved the way for a discussion of ending the country’s open door policy for foreigners seeking humanitarian relief, something that would have been unthinkable in the past, the Times reports.
An estimated fifth of Sweden’s population of 9.6 million was either born outside the country or to immigrant parents in Sweden, according to the article.
The Islamic Association of Sweden represents roughly 40 communities inside the nation.
Omar Mustafa, the president of the organization, told the Times that “the recent fires at mosques were the culmination of a year of rising anti-Islamic attacks, from women having their hijabs, or head coverings, pulled off in the streets to the vandalism of 14 mosques, as well as racist or anti-Muslim vitriol spread through social media.”
The article highlights a growing anti-Muslim sentiment in other parts of Europe, as well. “German officials recorded more than 70 attacks against mosques from 2012 to 2014, including an arson, and the police in Britain have recorded an increase in hate crimes against Muslims,” reports the Times.
“Worries about immigration have helped buoy [European] right-wing parties in Britain, Denmark, France and Hungary,” adds the article.