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Sweden Democrats in racism row

Sweden Democrats in racism row

Published: 30 Mar 2009 08:33 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Mar 2009 08:33 GMT+02:00

Racism and hostility toward foreigners are common themes for the far-right Sweden Democrats, despite the party’s efforts to move into the political mainstream, according to a new investigation.

As part of an in-depth report, Sveriges Radio (SR) planted three journalists from the Kaliber investigative news programme with Sweden Democrat chapters in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and in Skåne in Sweden’s far south.

During one third of the party’s roughly 30 meetings attended by the undercover journalists, members of the Sweden Democrats made racist or anti-immigrant statements.

Among other things, members of the Sweden Democrats who hold elected office said that immigrants aren’t loyal, don’t want to pay taxes, and would rather take black-market jobs.

“Those who come from these countries, they’re pretty raw and real savages… [laughter]…They are, it’s in their nature,” one elected official could be heard saying on SR’s tape.

At another meeting, immigrants are compared with dogs.

“Did you know that an immigrant who comes to Sweden from countries like Afghanistan and Africa sometimes come with 2,000 parasites in their body. Not ever our dogs have that many, and they have to sit in quarantine…,” said a Sweden Democrat representative, prompting several at the meeting to burst into laughter.

In other excerpts from the programme, party members claim that Muslims don’t eat pork because they have sex with pigs and that Muslim women wear burqas to hide the fact that they are beaten by their husbands.

The head of the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Åkesson, doesn’t agree with the radio station’s contention that the party has one set of opinions it shares with the public and another which its members hold in private.

“I think it’s an odd conclusion to make from what was aired on the programme. We’re talking about a total of a few seconds, maybe a few minutes of rude, harsh, and in some cases completely unacceptable statements from peripheral members or, as they claim, representatives for the party,” Åkesson told the TT news agency.

He contends the statements aren’t representative of the party’s views.

“We have sound, anti-racist values and our principle programme is quite clear when it comes to human rights and the equal value of all people,” he said.

Åkesson said he doesn’t plan on taking action against those who made the racist comments, but added that the incident will be investigated further.

“It’s painful to hear, obviously, but it’s way too early to say what we’re going to do. We’ll have a discussion with these people and get an overall picture of what has happened,” he said.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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