Riots in the suburbs

October 25, 2013  |  By Pernilla Johansson, Sweden


Photo : Telefonkiosk/Wikimedia Commons

Suburbs in Stockholm, Sweden seem to be the latest spot for riots similar those that took place in Paris and London. The violence started in Husby, when a 69-year-old man was shot to death by the police. This event was the beginning of a number riots initiated by the youth in the community; cars were damaged and there were numerous fires in restaurants, schools and police stations. The question, though, is why?  

According to Mariama Samateh, a Swedish student set on becoming Sweden’s next integration minister, the riots are due to several reasons. She claims that the main factor is that the locals are not doing their job. If we compare these occurrences to the violent events, which took place in London 2011 and in Paris 2005, there is a clear pattern. They are communities outside big cities and the residents are mostly foreigners who haven’t been integrated into society.

Sweden has one of the highest living standards in the world and it has survived the financial crises very well, but they have failed to lower the unemployment rate among their youth. They have also widened the gap between the rich and the less fortunate. All these factors affect immigrants, which naturally leads to dissatisfaction.

Mariama says that not too long ago politicians promised the community to make improvements to the area, but they have still not acted on their promises. Police brutality is also a worry and this has led to many community members disrespecting authority.

‘It’s sad to see that a lot a people in Husby don’t see any opportunities for the future, compared to Södermalm, for example, a central community with high social standard in Stockholm. Residents in Södermalm have endless opportunities and the community is just a few bus stops away from Husby,’ says Mariama.

If Mariama were the integration minister today she would have two main issues to attend to: the situation in Husby and integrating foreigners into the society.

‘When it comes to the situation in Husby we have seen that the police behaviour towards the youth hasn’t helped. Thanks to police brutality the youth have lost their respect for them. We need a dialog between the residence in Husby and the government instead. A dialog to figure out the core issues [of the community] and work from there,’ she says.

Most newspapers in Sweden share Mariama’s thoughts on Husby. The interesting thing, however, is that some journalists who have reported from Husby have completely different explanations for the riots. Journalists have interviewed people in Husby who haven’t experienced any of these problems and these residents say that the riots are caused by troublemakers and that all communities have a small portion of troublemakers.

Hopefully soon these riots will end and the Husby community, as well as local government authorities, practise tolerance and show respect to one another.











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