The New York Times published an extensive article on the perception of Sweden’s crime problems due to accepting large number of non-Swedish migrants, the emergence of the far-right party in Sweden, and how the Swedish far-right is tied to the Russian government’s propaganda and disinformation efforts. The article’s focus, from the headline, “The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism,” is how Russian propaganda and misinformation is behind the rise of the Swedish far-right party, the Sweden Democrats.
The Sweden Democrats Party was originally a neo-Nazi party, but under new leadership had rebranded themselves as a party concerned about immigration issues. Therefore, at least by the tone of the article, when President Donald Trump cited Sweden Democrats rhetoric, he has allegedly bought into the Russian propaganda machine.
Yet, the article admitted that much of the immigration backlash within Sweden has come because Sweden “accepted more refugees per capita than any other European country.” An Iranian migrant who has settled in Sweden, Ardalan Shekarabi, told the New York Times, “I absolutely don’t think that the majority of Swedes have racist or xenophobic views, but they had questions about this migration policy and the other parties didn’t have any answers…Which is one of the reasons why Sweden Democrats had a case.”
However, instead of focusing on the far-right party politics and Russian propaganda efforts, the article could have suggested that immigration could lead to higher crime rates, but it also depends on how the immigrant community deals with crime internally (such as policing itself, encouraging youth to stop violence, etc.). Instead of an all-or-nothing approach, the Times could have approached the crime situation in places like immigrant-majority Rinkeby as a mixed bag: there are some improvements in reducing crime while others still concern local Swedes.
For example, in Rinkeby, “[T]here were 825 reported episodes of violent crime last year, a rate 36 percent higher per capita than Stockholm as a whole.” That would, at first glance, validate concerns that immigration leads to a spike in crime. However, the article noted that “the number of police officers in Rinkeby has more than quadrupled since 2015.” Also, due to the deployment of more police officers, both assaults and robberies are down, and fatal shootings went down, too. Only 1 of 11 fatal shootings in Sweden occurred in Rinkeby, according to Rinkeby police chief Niclas Andersson. In short, Rinkeby is a mixed bag when it comes to crime rates and is neither the utopia nor the disaster that media outlets have claimed.