'Problems stemming from Sweden's openness towards asylum-seekers are, at long last, getting the attention of the country's mainstream media. Sweden-based academics Bilyana Martinovski and Anders Hellström explain why the press is finally paying attention.
On 19 September, journalists from the Swedish national public television broadcaster Sveriges Television AB (SVT) were attacked with stones while reporting on the building of an Islamic Centre in the Stenhagen district of Uppsala, known for its considerable migrant population. The Swedish police immediately launched an investigation into the attempted assault and injury.
It is not the first stone-throwing incident to have occurred in the Stenhagen neighbourhood, as controversy over the construction of an Islamic Centre next to St. Mary's Church in the district has been going on for the last six years. The Dawa Foundation, a Swedish Islamic organisation, owns the land in Stenhagen and applied to the Swedish authorities to build the Muslim house of worship several years ago.
On 7 September, representatives of the Sweden Democrats (SD), the country's conservative party, were pelted with stones in Stenhagen during a campaign against the construction of the planned mosque. Some stones were up to 10 centimetres in length and most were about half that size, as one of the SD campaigners, Simon Alm, described in his Facebook post.
However, according to SVT, the Planning and Building Board approved the detailed plan of the new Islamic centre in the Uppsala district last Thursday, which means that there are no more obstacles standing in the way of the centre's construction.
Stone-Throwing Incident as Indicator of Greater Trouble
It appears that the latest attack on the national broadcaster's reporters has changed their tone, prompting them to address the broader social trouble which has been brewing for the past few years in the country: Sweden is one of a handful of countries to accept a record number of migrants in recent years.
According to the official statistics, 806,155 newcomers were awarded residencies in Sweden between 2013 and 2018, i.e. almost 10 per cent of the entire population.
Anders Hellström, associate professor in political science at the Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity, and Welfare at Malmö University, insists that stone-throwing is not common for Sweden, adding that those incidents "have actually become less frequent during the years".
Bilyana Martinovski, an associate professor in Human-Machine Interaction, who was expelled from Stockholm University over her research into migrant-related rape cases in Sweden; she insists the opposite is true: the problem is by no means fading.
"Stone-throwing is frequent, especially at police," she says. "Most interesting was the taxpayer-funded SVT programme by Janne Josefsson; when he visited a migrant area in Göteborg [in May 2019] where a guard was heavily beaten by a male migrant gang, almost to death. This prominent journalist was in shock, things there have become much worse than the [community] he reported on 20 years earlier in the same place."
Read more: Stone-Throwing, No-Go Zones & Rape: Sweden Starts Looking at Migration Problem With New Eyes