• Sweden edition
 

Swedish town restricts 'immigrant weddings'

Published: 16 Nov 2009 14:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Nov 2009 14:20 GMT+01:00

A local politician from Landskrona in southern Sweden has decreed that only one “immigrant wedding” can be held at the town’s local community centre every month.

“We don’t want to have too many,” Lars Svensson, the centre's manager and Social Democratic member of the Landskrona local council, told the local Helsingborgs Dagblad (HD) newspaper,

Svensson then went on to explain what he meant by the term “immigrant wedding”.

“It’s those who live in the city. There are quite a lot of Kurds and Palestinians who get married. There's something about having an oriental background; there can be between 400 and 500 guests,” Svensson explained, adding that "European immigrant groups" aren't included in the term.

According to Svensson, the policy comes following repeated complaints about the noise and untidiness associated with “immigrant weddings” held at Landskrona’s Folkets Hus, translating literally into English as “The People's House”.

But in Landskrona, Svensson’s policies have left members of some immigrant groups shut out of using the community centre.

Moreover, it seems that weddings thrown by some European immigrant groups are in fact included in Svensson's category of "immigrant weddings".

Local resident Habib Ramadani, originally from Kosovo, has lived in Landskrona for ten years and had hoped to hold a wedding reception for his son in the town’s community centre last year.

But Svensson rejected Ramadani’s request, citing the proud father’s immigrant background.

“If he had said, ‘no, it’s booked’, that would have been the end of it. But then he asked what country I was from,” Ramadani told the newspaper.

Ramadani told Svensson he was from Kosovo, still hoping to be able to rent out the community centre’s great hall.

“He said, ‘Not for you, you all throw cake on the floor instead of in your mouths,’” Ramadani explained.

“But the great hall was free that weekend. Others who worked there told us so.”

Having already sent out hundreds of invitations to guests around the world, Ramadani offered to pay professional cleaners to ensure the hall would be spotless following the event.

Svensson remained firm, however, prompting Ramadani to try another approach.

“Then I offered to pay for two days. But he said that this is the People’s House and as a result, people must be given access,” Ramadani told HD.

Even a promise to keep the party alcohol free didn’t help, leading Ramadani to question Svensson's explanation.

“Do I not count as a person? I pay taxes and I’m a part of society. But when we want to rent space for a wedding, suddenly I’m only an immigrant,” he said.

“It’s like Lars Svensson wants to get rid of parties thrown by foreigners. It’s called the Peoples’ House but it should be called the Swedes’ House.”

According to Ramadani, Svensson also claimed that “immigrant weddings” require advance payment because people who arrange them don’t share “our norms” when it comes to paying bills.

Svensson told the newspaper that the community centre has been criticized by accountants for accepting payments for “immigrant weddings” in cash, often in large sums the day of the event.

“We’ve discussed this a lot. The accountants say ‘either send a bill or pay in advance’. But we probably wouldn’t have received any money. Those who arrange weddings don’t abide by our conditions, by our norms. They come with wads of bills in their pockets,” he said.

Per Holfve, a lawyer with Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – DO) think’s Svensson’s policy of limiting the number of “immigrant weddings” could violate the country’s anti-discrimination laws requiring everyone to have equal access to the facility, regardless of ethnicity.

“I think it sounds like they are on thin ice. It’s one thing if someone wants to rent the space and there are concerns about problems maintaining order, but then they have to be concrete; it’s not enough to say that it's something to do with ethnic affiliation. Then it’s nothing other than stereotyping,” Holfve told the newspaper.

But Svensson doesn’t see any problem with limiting the number of immigrant weddings, claiming he is simply doing his best to maintain a balance that reflects the makeup of the community.

“The board’s policy is that if 20 percent of Landskrona’s residents have immigrant backgrounds, have another ethnicity, then they have the right to express their culture. And they can do that at the People’s House,” he said.

“We try to avoid discrimination. But the alternative is prohibiting these parties altogether.”

Folkets Hus is the name given to municipal halls through Sweden created during the rise of the country’s trade union movement in the early 20th century.

According to the website of the National Federation of People's Parks and Community Centres (Folkets Hus och Parker), the community centres were originally created by groups of workers in order to allow them to have a place to organize and hold meetings at a time when property owners “were afraid of the revolutionary ideas” that might be discussed at such gatherings.

The community centres represented a “significant step on the path towards equality and democracy” and remain “an important part of the social economic system” in Sweden where “marginalized groups, such as immigrants, women and unemployed can find support and together work for a better future”.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Advertisement:
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

719
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com