Sweden's Jews, Muslims face web hate rise: study
Published: 22 Aug 2011 15:43 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Aug 2011 15:43 GMT+02:00
The number of xenophobic web sites have almost doubled since 2007 and Jews and Muslims wearing apparent religious symbols are subjected to significant discrimination in Sweden today, according to a new report from the Living History Forum (Forum för levande historia).
“Sweden as a whole is a tolerant country but this report shows that racism is growing and is being professionalized on the internet. There is today a small but growing minority that harbour hatred against Muslims and Jews,” minister for integration, Erik Ullenhag, wrote in a statement on Monday.
The report, which was requested by the government and carried out by the Forum, also shows that an increased number of racist web pages have been created in recent years and that prejudice is being spread through schoolbooks.
According to the report, the number of racist sites in Sweden has almost doubled in two years. In 2009 there were around 8,000 xenophobic Swedish sites whereas today the authors of the report estimate an increase to 15,000.
This follows a EU-wide trend where right wing extremist groups are using the internet to spread hate-propaganda.
According to the report, these are characterized by anti-Semitic and Islamophobic views, where conspiracy theories are the most recurring elements.
The Jewish group is often cast as world conspirators whereas the Muslim group is seen as physical occupiers, actively are on their way to taking over society through mass-immigration and rising nativity figures.
The Jewish community in Sweden consists of some 20,000 individuals and the Muslim community of 300,000. Fresh crime statistics show that there were 161 reports of crimes with anti-Semitic motives and 272 with Islamophobic motives last year.
But according to the Forum it is difficult to get a fair idea of the situation from these statistics as they are based on police reports and the authors believe there may be many more unrecorded cases.
“Above all this study shows that research and follow-ups into preventative actions regarding intolerance against Jews and Muslims is sorely needed,” said head of Forum for Living History, Eskil Franck, in a statement.
According to Ullenhag, Swedish authorities must further their knowledge about what causes the hate against these groups to grow in Sweden and how they should meet it. That, he said, is the aim behind the investigation regarding xenophobia that the government launched earlier this spring.
“We have learnt from experiences in other European countries that all the forces who want a tolerant society need to be active in the public debate. Prejudice against Jews and Muslims can never be normalized,” said Ullenhag.
When American research centre Pew recently investigated the development of religious conflicts and oppression worldwide between 2006 and 2009, Sweden distinguished itself as a country where hostilities related to religion are increasing the most.