Swe­den hides ugly truth

Lesotho Times - - International -

OSLO — Swe­den is sup­pos­edly a lib­eral utopia: a land of gen­er­ous wel­fare, sub­stan­tial for­eign aid do­na­tions, and green­fin­gered sus­tain­abil­ity. But Swe­den’s noble im­age is hid­ing an ugly truth.

Racism is blight­ing Swedish so­ci­ety, and peo­ple of African de­scent face daily ha­rass­ment and hate crimes, ac­cord­ing to a United Na­tions re­port pre­sented to the UN hu­man rights coun­cil ear­lier this week.

Yet the coun­try is so con­vinced by its tol­er­ant rep­u­ta­tion that it re­fuses to ac­knowl­edge the prob­lem.

The re­port found: ‘The Swedish phi­los­o­phy of equal­ity and its pub­lic and self-im­age as a coun­try with re­spect for hu­man rights, non-dis­crim­i­na­tion, and lib­eral democ­racy blinds it to the struc­tural racism faced by Afro-swedes and Africans in its midst.’

There has been a 31 per­cent rise in re­ported “Afro­pho­bic” hate crimes from 2010 to 2014, ac­cord­ing to the Swedish Na­tional Coun­cil for Crime Preven­tion .

The UN Work­ing Group of Ex­perts of Peo­ple of African De­scent re­ported “a real fear within the com­mu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially for young black men, that they could be vi­o­lently at­tacked at any time.”

Struc­tural racism means that black peo­ple in Swe­den have re­duced ac­cess to health care and ed­u­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to the UN re­port, while “the po­lice view peo­ple of African de­scent as crim­i­nals rather than a vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­nity that needs pro­tec­tion.”

But Swe­den is so con­vinced by its own rep­u­ta­tion that the gov­ern­ment has re­moved the word “race” from the Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act — be­cause the law as­sumes that all peo­ple be­long to the hu­man race. The United Na­tions was unim­pressed:

The Work­ing Group is aware that to delete “race” from the lex­i­cal cor­pus does not elim­i­nate racism based on racial dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Rather it may be a way to ig­nore, min­i­mize, or ob­scure the re­al­ity of the specif­i­cally “racial” racism faced by a part of the Swedish pop­u­la­tion.

There are roughly 200 000 Africans and peo­ple of African de­scent liv­ing in Swe­den, who make up two-per­cent of the coun­try’s 9.6 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion.

But the UN found that Swe­den did not prop­erly ad­dress or ac­knowl­edge its in­volve­ment in the transat­lantic slave trade.

A xeno­pho­bic po­lit­i­cal party, the Swedish Democrats, won al­most 13 per­cent of the na­tional vote in 2014 and be­came the third-largest party.

Yet Swe­den con­tin­ues to cling onto its “self-per­cep­tion of be­ing a tol­er­ant and hu­mane so­ci­ety,” ac­cord­ing to the UN re­port.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.