Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Two days hence, on Sunday September 9th, the Swedish public will cast ballots. Moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, will vote either for the status quo – or for profound change.
Back in 2014, the Sweden Democrats (SD), an anti-immigration political party, won 49 seats in parliament – placing third out of eight parties. That was before Germany’s Angela Merkel invited a tsunami of migrants into Europe. That was before the Swedish government welcomed more asylum seekers into that tiny country (population 10 million) than did France and the United Kingdom combined (total population 133 million).
I’ve been monitoring the Facebook feed of the SD for months (Facebook automatically translates posts into English). Lazy journalists describe this party as racist and far-right. But lazy journalists get a lot of things wrong. They also employ appalling double standards. So how about we let the SD speak for itself?
Let’s start with the fact that there are huge incentives for asylum seekers in Sweden to lie about their age. A Reuters news article acknowledges that those who claim to be unaccompanied minors “have greater access to housing and schools and less chance of being deported.” In 2015, an astonishing 35,000 individuals made such a claim.
SD politicians have been treated like pariahs for worrying aloud that Sweden is being taken advantage of. But slowly, widespread dishonesty in the asylum system has been officially acknowledged. According to May 2017 news reports, only one quarter of 581 young asylum seekers who were medically tested were actually younger than 18. In May of this year, reacting to other news coverage, the SD declared: “Today we know that 78% of the afghan men lied about their age.”
In February, the SD protested funding cutbacks for the disabled in order to pay asylum seeker bills. The party pointed to a newspaper opinion piece in which 1,500 psychologists warned these cuts were having “significant negative practical and psychological consequences” (Google translation).
Similarly, the party has championed the needs of seniors. In April 2018 it declared:
While Sweden has arranged grants, food and accommodation for hundreds of thousands of new arrivals, more and more pensioners are forced out on the street.
Another post complained:
more and more older people are forced into homelessness. At the same time, new houses are built for new arrivals in the middle of Stockholm’s city center.
Repeatedly, the SD has highlighted the fact that asylum seekers are charged a mere 50 kronor per dentist visit ($5.50 US, £4.25) while dental care remains financially out-of-reach for many Swedish seniors (see here, here, and here).
One person who qualified for this government-subsidized dental care was an asylum seeker later convicted of terrorism after he hijacked a truck in 2017 and mowed down pedestrians, killing five people. Police discovered an unexploded bomb, made of nails, inside the truck.
The SD has expressed concern that, “After ten years, only half of those who came to Sweden in 2006 had been given a job.” It describes itself as “the only party” that has warned about the danger of immigrants being encouraged to “hold on to their culture and traditions” instead of adapting to mainstream society.
Earlier this year it raised the alarm about Muslim extremists whose numbers have increased in Swedish cities:
They are against democracy, they are against participation in society…they have invited preachers with anti-Semitic and homophobic expressions…
about families being bullied because they are not religious enough, parents who require the children to be filmed at school so they don’t take off the veil or that children don’t get to play with the other sex.
On that occasion, the SD Facebook post ended this way:
That’s enough now. #SD2018 [bold added]
The SD says Sweden “needs politicians who dare to tell the truth.” But such politicians are rare.
Many ordinary people will vote for the Sweden Democrats this Sunday. Not because those people are racists, but because no one else will address their concerns. No one else will speak honestly about Sweden’s immigration-related problems. No one else will confront those problems.
The SD leader, 39-year-old Jimmie Åkesson, is cut from different cloth. Regarding the question of how women should dress in public given the religious views of some immigrants, he says men “who feel they can’t control themselves” are welcome to wear blindfolds.
If I lived in Sweden, that man would get my vote.
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