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Sweden in bid to 'define Swedish citizenship'

Sweden in bid to 'define Swedish citizenship'

Published: 16 Jan 2012 09:04 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Jan 2012 12:13 GMT+01:00

“When someone immigrates to our country, we want the signals to be clear – we want you to be a part of Sweden, find work quickly, and learn Swedish,” integration minister Erik Ullenhag wrote in an opinion piece in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper in which he outlined plans for the inquiry.

“The goal is to have immigrants feel a sense of belonging and become a part of Swedish society and hopefully also become Swedish citizens.”

According to Ullenhag, Sweden shouldn't be reduced to a “collection of different ethnic or religious enclaves that live in parallel worlds” and that having the courage to “discuss, reassess, and preserve our values” requires engaging in the debate about what's wanted when it comes to integration and citizenship.

While citizenship has legal significance in terms of giving people the right to vote as well as the “unconditional right” to live and work in Sweden, citizenship has another, more symbolic meaning related to a sense of belonging to a society.

“We in Sweden haven't been very good at creating this sense of belonging to a new country,” Ullenhag writes.

The minister references Canada, the United States, and Australia as successful countries built on immigration where citizenship is equated with “unity, diversity, and participation” and where citizenship is bestowed via a formal ceremony.

“The signal to new arrivals from day one is that he or she is welcomed and that the expressed ambition is that the new arrival should strive toward citizenship,” writes Ullenhag.

The goals of citizenship inquiry, according to the minister, are to provide suggestions for defining the meaning of Swedish citizenship as well as proposals for the organizing of citizenship ceremonies accessible to all new Swedish citizens.

In addition, the inquiry will be tasked with “examining whether citizenship can, to a greater extent, be used as an incentive to promote integration”.

“The thought is that citizenship in itself should symbolize a common future rather than a common history,” writes Ullenhag.

“The question we must ask ourselves is how we can best secure a fellowship, a social glue, what holds society together.”

During a Monday press conference, Ullenhag announced that the inquiry would be led by lawyer Gunnar Strömmer, former head of the youth wing of the Moderate Party and executive director of the Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa).

The results of the inquire are expected to be presented on April 1st, 2013.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

09:43 January 16, 2012 by isenhand
""When someone immigrates to our country, we want the signals to be clear - we want you to be a part of Sweden, find work quickly, and learn Swedish," "

Oh dear! It all goes wrong from the very begining hasn't it?
09:50 January 16, 2012 by witsltd
@isenhand

Why has it gone wrong from beginning? How is this different from immigration policies of other countries as US/Canada/Australia?

Its about time Sweden has a proper view on how they want immigrants to assimilate. So far they have accepted whoever wanted to be here and accepted any kind of behaviour once they are here.

Just before you start with your negative comments, I am not a Swede.
10:03 January 16, 2012 by occassional
@witsltd

For instance, in other news, coincidentally of the same day:

http://www.thelocal.se/38518/20120116/

Swedish citizenship and the coveted passport are being used by the scum of the earth as a carte blanche to free passage. The orchestration is perfect. Immigrate to Sweden, not Italy mind you, not Poland but the land of honey, Sweden. stay here for 5 years, courtesy of the blonde taxpayer. Get housing, benefits, handouts, the lot. Obtain Swedish citizenship and then the world is your oyster. So much is the world your oyster that you can opt to go back on holiday back to the country that was allegedly persecuting you. Ask the 'Swedes' who were rescued in 2006 in the middle of their charter holidays from ' Lebanon'

So yes, Mr. Afghani bricklayer the minister might want you to be part of Sweden, find work quickly, and learn Swedish but that is not exactly what you want now, is it?
10:43 January 16, 2012 by The Watcher
@occassional

No, we want to be treated as humans
10:58 January 16, 2012 by star10
I like the ceremony upon conferring citizenship. Such a ceremony should ideally reflect a welcoming emotion to the new citizen and the new citizen pledging his/her loyalty to the country. But care should be taken that the new citizen shouldn't feel that he/she is "force-fed" some words by the "other" Swedes. It should rather reflect that both the new citizen and the old ones are glad to be bounded by Sweden. I am not Swede. But I always wish success to Sweden as it is such a great country (compared to the extent political unions can achieve).
11:00 January 16, 2012 by DAVID T
"We in Sweden haven't been very good at creating this sense of belong to a new country,

That's because nobody asked the swedes if they wanted all these un-educated and burden to society immigrants in the first place.

"The minister references Canada, the United States, and Australia as successful countries built on immigration where citizenship is equated with "unity, diversity, and participation" and where citizenship is bestowed via a formal ceremony."

That's because they have a points system to get in - and they don't let criminals in and deport anyone who commits crimes.
11:02 January 16, 2012 by occassional
@The Watcher

Aha. Meaning? Have it your way, all the way? How does that exactly work?

Where is the shortfall at the moment? Not enough housekeeping?
11:12 January 16, 2012 by johnny1939
It is not easy to become a US citizen I know holding dual citizenship. I had to prove where I had been since the age of 16 w/ a clean slate of no criminal activity. I had to prove that I was fairly fluent in English and that I had knowledge of the workings of the US government and American history plus being fingerprinted at the local police station and that was after residing in the US for 30 yrs or so w/o even a parking ticket.
11:27 January 16, 2012 by ardnis
Bonjour, hej, I'm totally agree with this paper, i'm french and i will arrive in Goteborg for living and working in IT. It will be impossible for me to not learn swedish or spend time with local population, and share your lifestyle and usages... If you arrive in a new country, you need to respect it, first rule.
11:31 January 16, 2012 by Kemi
The thing with immigration is that if they are needed in a country's economy then they'll find jobs and thrive, if the country doesn't need them, it's useless trying to make policies to welcome them.

And if someone wants to take the citizenship of another country, the burden should lie on them to prove themselves worthy and useful, not the other way around. Sweden already has a much more friendly immigration policy than those countries they admire in this article.

There's a huge difference between the Swedish immigration policy and those countries built based on immigration, they encourage immigration based on how much a person can contribute, immigrants are judged by education and skills. Here we import refugees and try to picture them as capable work force---very unrealistic and dishonest.
11:38 January 16, 2012 by witsltd
@ocassional

You misunderstood. I actually said what you meant. There should be clear idea about how Sweden wants to assimilate immigrants. So far they had no control. Becoming stricter will result in lot of whining...but good for long term.
12:04 January 16, 2012 by Abe L
Easy, get Sweden of the list of ESTA countries to enter the US and instead allow for free travel. Simply put the Americans through the same procedure they enforce on to others when they enter the EU.

This will make people want to adopt the Swedish nationality very badly. The most countries you can get on that list where we don't have to apply for visas and that allow for free bilateral entry for Swedish citizens would make it even more attractive.
12:32 January 16, 2012 by xkiran
"The results of the inquire are expected to be presented on April 1st, 2013."

Should I believe these results OR should I just take it as an April Fool's Day joke??
12:46 January 16, 2012 by isenhand
@witsltd

Integration means more than learning a language and getting job. You have culture, traditions and values. No point in having a diverse country if you do not have a common set of values. That will just generate problems which will affect getting a job as well.

Begin with culture, values, etc. then work towards language and getting a job.
13:04 January 16, 2012 by witsltd
@isenhand

There is nothing against culture and values. What you are suggesting is to start with vague stuff first. You can not teach someone cultures, traditions and values. You can only display them and each individual has to accept and adapt.

Also do not confuse "what to do" with "how to do". It takes years and a lot more than knowledge of language to get an understanding of local culture and traditions.

Knowing language is a tangible criteria that will atleast ensure bi-directional communication.

Perhaps knowledge of history should be a requirement as well...but I can imagine the reaction to such requirement amongst foreigners in Sweden. Whilst it is an accepted requirement in some other countries immigration policies.
13:32 January 16, 2012 by skumdum
Don't allow dual citizenship. That is just discusting.

The day after someone becomes a swedish citizen he or she should pledge allegiance to the king and be sent to the nearest army base and serve for one year with a sallary of 38kr/day.
13:52 January 16, 2012 by bakagaijin
@ardnis, since you are French citizen, you can study Swedish for free. However most likely you will have to wait 3-12 month before you can actually start. I suggest applying ASAP due to the waiting lists.

I don't really understand what is this article about. Is it directed at EU people who keep their original citizenship because they do not see an additional benefit of turning to a Swede... Or is it aimed at people who are coming from outside the EU?

Because most of the things mentioned are already there: SFI is giving cultural "directions" as well: regular museum visits, cafe nights, how-to write your CV lectures from AMS, etc. Also if a non-EC person wants to study at a högskola/university, s/he needs to pass samhällskunskap as well. I mean, what else they believe is missing that the government does not offer?

What I see as problematic is this ghetto-ification: unless you are insanely rich you will have to live where your fellow nationality people do, probably do the jobs they do, and that is quite difficult to change. Starting with faking your name for job interviews... for example... But it may have changed in the recent years, it was worse when the economic crisis hit.
14:16 January 16, 2012 by truthworthy
My suggestion: Shorten the waiting period for the successful immigrants, who learn the language quicker, get job or start business. for such people to wait 8 years is nonsense. this could be a great incentive.
16:34 January 16, 2012 by jostein
Another idea would have been to do this BEFORE accepting more than 1.3 miljon immigrants into a population of barely 8 mil. I mean, isnt it a little late? And since this is coming from FP we know its a sham. FP has a history of making populist plays like these but then not following them up with actually voting for their own suggestions in the riksdag. FP design these to fool the gullible and the stupid.
17:56 January 16, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
The Arab terrorist in another article here in the Local certainly values his Swedish citizenship and has used it as a tool to be more effective. But it has discredited Sweden's credibility in the process.
18:37 January 16, 2012 by TheWatchman
@ ardnis

Exactly! You can't go to another country and expect them to accommodate to you.

@ DavidT

The people of Sweden never got their fair say, rather the government and pushing this propaganda where immigrants from the Middle East are totally great and amazing. Look at Malmo, and see how true that is. The country where I live, Canada, contrary to popular belief, doesn't just allow in anyone. They will actually deny people who aren't at least in college-level education. This sort of immigration is required for Sweden, not just allowing in any man in Afghanistan, if that is not how it works, please tell me now. That is the perception I have after hearing about Malmo.
20:17 January 16, 2012 by Just_Kidding
I go to SAS (SFI before).They keep talking about påskdagen, annandag påsk, Lucia, annandag jul and all other religious staff. How about a little bit of ABBA, Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Nobel, Tranströmer and etc.

Muslims are the biggest victem of Islam, but nobody has the balls the tell them.

Iranian Atheist
21:15 January 16, 2012 by zooeden
This is just idiotic, in any case stop bringing extremists, hippies, ex POWs, exile in tons or grandmothers with dementia!!!
23:24 January 16, 2012 by invandrare från tredje världen
Please follow the link below and watch the documentary film 'A Class Divided'.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/.

Thanks.rds
23:59 January 16, 2012 by underskyofsweden
When you hate something or someone, you don't allow yourself to get to know it. Islam is not a problem for the world. The problem is the ones whose minds are working to abuse the religion and religious things! Media and the westernized world never give you a real perspective of what people think and what can make the people more peaceful knowing cultures and real attitudes of each other. This modernized machinery world just make you to stuck in propaganda and phobias!

If you really want to know other people, travel to their countries,be guest of them, host them to your home, seat and have a coffee with them and talk with them face to face! Just let each other to be something and talk freely regardless of skin colors and how you look like! Believe me! It's not that hard! Get yourself a try! One day when you are in metro or in the bus or train, seat near them and ask them what they think about you and what you really think about them! Many misunderstandings are the results of not giving each other a chance to be heard! Wash your eyes, Look differently once!
01:49 January 17, 2012 by Chickybee
Sweden used to be known for its international role in crisis mediation, its wonderful cinema and its literature and music but sadly every time I see Sweden in the news it's all about Islamists with Swedish passports.

Sadly a lot of damage has been done by a minority but also a minority is manipulating Swedish laws and culture into something Islamophobic.

The whole point is that asylum seekers came to Sweden because it was a generous, prosperous and very safe country to live in.

Malmo is just an example of how extemist minorities can terrorise and cause ethinc cleansing right in front of our very own eyes.

These are facts but it would seem it is not very Swedish to talk about such worrying realities.
04:37 January 17, 2012 by Smiling Canuk
Honestly, why were such immigration policies adopted in Sweden in the first place. Countries such as Canada, Australia, USA were built on immigration and it has been a 300 year process. In contrast, Sweden was a homogeneous successful country and then 30 yrs ago Swedish politicians suddenly stood up and declared that Sweden was now "multicultural" and decided that they must play mother to the world and allow anybody in without consideration of how likely some groups are going to fit into Swedish society.
05:17 January 17, 2012 by phil23456
Sweden's birthrate is below replacement level & the economic system is based on growth. Either have more babies or be over run by countries that do. It's all about economics these days the elite don't care about culture.
06:07 January 17, 2012 by skatty
Actually, the signals are clear; what Swedes expect from immigrants is to feel that they are a part of Sweden "but Swedes don't have to feel that immigrant are part of Sweden", find a cleaning or low level job quickly "even if immigrants have a Swedish degree and studied in Sweden", learn Swedish "even though the Swedish language can not be much of use for immigrants"!

The goal is immigrant to accept his/her position as a second class citizen and live with the fact. The parallel life of immigrant and Swedes are true and very real, and very much touchable

The general meaning of becoming Swedish citizen as an immigrant is to be marginalized.
08:15 January 17, 2012 by SecondGen
The story doesn't go into much detail. As an example, in the U.S. if you have a Masters degree you can apply for a green card directly, if you have a bachelors degree, you can enter on an H1b visa to work and eventually apply for a green card. If you don't have a degree you come in via a work permit or illegally.

Someone mentions immigrants who are arrested are deported from the US, but that really isn't true. I live in Chicago, which is a city where police aren't allowed to check immigration status (course we either lead or are close to #1 in violent crimes such as homicides year after year - one year one of the political campaign slogans was more people are killed in Chicago each year than in Iraq).
11:11 January 17, 2012 by Dave N
The words "immigrant" and "immigration" do not accurately describe what is happening to Sweden ( or the rest of Europe). The correct term is "colonisation."
13:40 January 17, 2012 by Marc the Texan
@ocassional - You got it right.

Sweden will never learn. Giving more stuff to immigrants will not help them become better citizens. Stuff in this case, is more classes and instruction in socialization. People integrate into a society because they have a strong desire to integrate and strive to socialize and integrate themselves.

Immigrants need to understand from the outset that they are in a new country and will have to work very hard otherwise they will be living a very difficult, stressful and uncomfortable life. If immigrants do not arrive with a strong sense of motivation to achieve, it is not something they are going to pick up through osmosis. And they will do their level best to pass on their own culture to their children. That's just human nature.
14:46 January 17, 2012 by dizzy09
@invandrare från tredje världen

I have only one word to describe the video, "waow". it was a very powerful video on racism.if Sweden is really serious about integration, there should be some form of soul search among the Swedish people on how immigrants are really viewed in this country.
02:34 January 18, 2012 by soultraveler3
Skatty, you hit the nail on the head.

Sweden has allowed far too many immigrants / refugees in. This is a small country that doesn't have enough jobs for the natives and doesn't have enough money for any government systems to really work well. On top of that, a vast majority of Swedes don't want a mass of immigrants here in the first place and many are xenophobic or even downright racist.

The few in charge of immigration are either screwing their fellow countrymen on purpose, for a profit or to look good internationally; or naively assume that anyone allowed into Sweden will be awestruck with how wonderful and advanced Sweden is and will automatically want to be Swedish in terms of culture, law and custom. Either way, it's not good.

There are some that travel across the entire EU specifically for the benefits Sweden offers to "asylum seekers" and have no desire to integrate. Even those that want to assimilate often can't.

You rarely see Swedes and immigrants hanging out, the exception may be if someone is a "love refugee". It's next to impossible to get a professional job here even if you're highly educated with tons of experience; you're expected to take some crap cleaning job and be grateful. Also, the quiet, reserved manner of most Swedes makes it really hard to meet new people / friends.

A lot of immigrants eventually give up trying and resign themselves to a life of social welfare and second-class citizenship, so they move into an area filled with other immigrants and continue life segregated from the main part of society.

Many Swedes then see them as not wanting to integrate and as a drain on society and the negative cycle continues. It's a no win situation.
01:12 January 19, 2012 by invandrare från tredje världen
@dizzy09

Thanks for watching, dizzy09. It is the best anti -discrimination film I have ever seen. I would request all- Swedes, immigrants -to see this film. On the other hand, I know that you cannot convince a racist with any argument.
18:35 January 20, 2012 by sureiam
Hypocritical Swedes.............. it shall take I believe another 20yrs for Swedes to trust and accept Immigrrants, 1st I guess Swedes have to get real to themselves and stop being as "hypocrites" as they are "special those Polititions" get real men ... damn. Maybe Immigrants should get Swedish passports and run out of here............ too much beureacracy in and no "equality" in special arbetsmarknad.

Another thing "stop showing JUHOLTs face on TV with that depressing face!
19:20 January 20, 2012 by graceolsson
Dear @ just kidding:

First at all, You will learn about ABBA, Bergman, etc, when you´re studying SAS.

Second: Integration MInister: do learn Swedish requires a long time but everything is possible.The big problem of Sweden is not the language that the immigrants don´t learn. Unemployment despair everyone. Regardless of whether it is or not Swede.

Third point: Swedish society wasn´t asked if wanted too many immigrants. At the moment, Sweden doesn´t have money and much than that: JOB. A society without employment is the beginnings of increased violence. The Sweden lives, now, the beginnings of social chaos but the imigration department, each day , opens the door to immigrants and refugees. Is hypocrisy what Swedish politicians speak. Very soon, the Swedish Education department won´t have money to invest in anything.
11:59 January 22, 2012 by shahislam
This Happy US President is capable turning the worried world into a happy earth!

Businessmen's money won't be needed in new world politics when electronic voting system will make governence matters miraculously easy.

By SOPA, PIPA etc. we're trying to make possible something impossible!

Instead of wasting money and energy, we -the wise ones have to find eventually some new ways that will include in addition to voting system, an unique universal entertainment system when each user will be charged by the usage of bites at a globally applicable flat rate. It's now becoming undivided one world.
19:03 January 27, 2012 by elizabethahlgren
The problem over here in america is that the immigrants are treated MUCH better than the citizens, they get food, dwelling, education & more on the goverment who pays for all this, after they get educated they back to their originial country. While they are here, they don't learn english, they honor their own country instead of American, their children born here are American citizens. People like myself who can't find jobs (immigrants do them for a lesser wage & no benfits), can't get medical care, insurance companys won't cover pre-existing conditons, and it goes on & on & on, it's great to be an immigrant here, especially if you are an illegal alien.
12:23 January 29, 2012 by Swedishmyth
You can forget about "practical solutions" as long as Sweden's underlying ideology remains: despising the West (while living on its achievements) and admiring the lowest theocratic swamps one can find, in the name of multiculturalism.

It doesn't matter if some random politician sees what this does to the economy and physical safety of their people. It doesn't matter if the majority of Sweden's population comes to oppose immigration from the Middle-East and Africa out of emergency self-defense. It won't happen because fundamentally they don't disagree with anything the diversity worshiping elite has to say.

A little panicked pragmatism about what their eyes force them to see isn't enough, until and unless they challenge their basic premises about the purpose of society and government.
15:50 November 17, 2012 by Edward Teach
I think this is a small price to pay to come to another peoples country. The Swedish people built this country through blood sweat and tears, they went to war to protect it and now people expect them to just give them their country. Why should Sweden lose it's cultural identity to appease any one.From a tourist stand point, if I want to see a muslim culture I will visit the middle east, if I want to visit a African culture I will go to Africa when I go to Sweden I want to see a Swedish culture.
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