• Sweden edition
 

Expert: 'Apartheid bus' no reflection of Sweden

Published: 26 Mar 2013 10:35 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Mar 2013 10:35 GMT+01:00

Bus passengers in Stockholm reported that a driver separated "Swedish" and "non-Swedish" passengers during a trip in late December.

The driver denies he deliberately divided passengers according to their appearance or ethnicity, but has since been suspended as the bus company investigates the incident.

Mikael Hjerm, a sociology professor at Umeå University and an expert on multiculturalism, reacted strongly to the incident, but does not believe it serves as an accurate reflection of Sweden or Swedes' attitudes toward race and ethnicity.

"It's terrible, really terrible - I'm shocked. But discrimination is nothing new, it's everywhere," he told The Local.

He theorized that one of the main reasons the story made headlines from London to New York is that it goes against Sweden's usually solid reputation when it comes to fairness and equality.

"Sweden is always right up the top when it comes to rankings of the least prejudiced countries. These kinds of issues are so sensitive. The vast majority of people don't accept prejudice and agree that it's a problem. The world has come to expect a very high standard from Sweden," Hjerm explained.

"Of course, I'm not saying the situation in Sweden can't get worse, but this kind of tragic incident is just one shocking and rather surprising example."

Hjerm added that discrimination can often result from unconscious actions, but that what made the "apartheid bus" unusual was how very conscious it appears to have been, according to initial media reports.

"I only know what I've read in the papers, but this case is so blatant. And it's symbolic. Straight away you get images from apartheid in South Africa or Rosa Parks in the US," he said, referencing the woman who became an icon for the US civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger.

The Swedish bus driver, should he be found to have acted deliberately, may just be one rotten apple, according to Hjerm, and should not be considered a reflection of the typical Swede.

"Prejudice or xenophobia, as of right now, is not actually getting any worse in Sweden, there is no evidence to suggest this. If anything, measurements show that the trend is improving," he said.

"The most prejudiced group is the elderly, who grew up in a different time. To put it very bluntly, when they die things get better."

Besides the difficulty elderly have in abandoning long-held views, Hjerm pointed to politicians' poor articulation of the issue as another cause for xenophobia in Swedish society.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

11:34 March 26, 2013 by polartwist
"when they die things get better."

What kind of assertion is it?? Shameful!
11:39 March 26, 2013 by johan rebel
Who says there actually was an "apartheid bus" incident in the first place? As far as I can tell, this has yet to be conclusively proven, yet the so-called experts have already suffered several bouts of verbal diarrhoea over the matter.

"I know only what I've read in the papers". Well, we all know how reliable the media are, especially in Sweden, and especially when it comes to their pet issues such as "racism". If Hjerm really only knows what the media allege, then it would behoove him to shut up until he has the facts. Even then it would be better if he kept his sociological mumbo jumbo to himself.
12:11 March 26, 2013 by tilda8686sv
Wow, this Hjerm guy is more hateful and baised than the bus driver even if the original story were true. To lump an entire group together based on age and then throw bombs at them?!
12:43 March 26, 2013 by Logic_and_Reason
Can anyone show me one instance where this made a headline in a major city outside of Scandinavia? I have not seen it mentioned on a single online news source, even as a side column story.
12:46 March 26, 2013 by recklessrashid
To quote a racist like this!! Many great civil rights people came from the generations he thinks should die for progress.

The Local is disgraceful and digging a very deep whole as it tries to justify a story that have no basis. You are not helping immigrant people when you polarize people from each other.
12:49 March 26, 2013 by TG22
@The Local: Which "apartheid bus"? That one that is looking more and more unlike that even happened?
13:43 March 26, 2013 by Jes
"Sweden is always right up the top when it comes to rankings of the least prejudiced countries.The vast majority of people don't accept prejudice and agree that it's a problem. The world has come to expect a very high standard from Sweden," Hjerm explained

But the World also knows that SD , a party that is conceptually and basicaly rasist is now the 4th largest party in Sweden at 9 +%. Any serious professor of multicalturalism should base his reasoning on numbers instead of patronizing sentiments .Isn`t it convievable that somebody who votes for a rasist party will be the same person who would think people of colour should never sit on the same bus with whites ?
16:49 March 26, 2013 by caradoc
So an 'expert' says that prejudice is not getting any worse in Sweden.

Well, i am sorry to disagre with an *expert* but that is not how i see or hear it.

I have lived in London and Amsterdam , both cities with a high imigrant population and until recently i have always tried to be on the side of immigrants and refugees. When you see and read reports of the poverty and danger surrounding some of these people when they seek a better life one can't help feeling sympathy and hope for their future.

But, 4 years after moving to sweden , and 2 years living in Malmö my opinion is changing rapidly.I have worked for over a year in Rosengård and i have seen the total disregard that a sizable minority of immigrants have for swedish and european values.

They think that they are owed so much by the society that has taken them in that they treat it and everyone in it like dirt.

Some of the immigrant youth are nothing but obnoxious oaffs who attack innocent people going about their daily lives almost with impunity. There is nothing wrong with questioning and challenging authority but the way that they treat the police and any person who is not going to give them more of whay they want or think that they deserve is almost savage.

i am sorry for the immigrants who do manage to intergrate well in society and abide by the rules and norms without being too subservient. I think their future in this country will be blighted by the idiots and savages who treat this country like a rubbish tip and heap scorn on those who try to get on in society.
18:07 March 26, 2013 by Frobobbles
A professor that is an expert on issues of prejudice hopes that all the elderly dies.
20:03 March 26, 2013 by Kronaboy
I disagree; I believe that discrimination in Sweden is so routine that racist pigs such as this individual feel they can behave with complete impunity. Personally I blame the demographics of the Migration population who are generally first generation immigration newbies who have just fallen off the back of an Albanian truck, as such they are little more than uncle toms grovelling for acceptance and permit racist pigs (such as the ones on this site)to get away with such behaviour. I know this much if he had tried such a thing where I come from there would have been no need for disciplinary action, the passengers would have burnt the bus to the ground with the co*k sucker in it.
22:28 March 26, 2013 by RobinHood
Don't worry readers. Everything will be much better when your parents and grandparents are dead.

Where does The Local find these wierdos?
12:13 March 27, 2013 by Jes
@caradoc , I detect a lot of dishonesty in your comment . You could also be lying about your stay in London . Anyone who lives or has lived in London knows that youths there behave the same way as the ones in Malmö or worse . One week-end vist in north London or South West London will be enough to find out that youths tend to have little respect to authority . Ít can be discussed why that is so. You should remember that those passengers that were separated from "Swedes" had not done anything that indicates that they don`t have your "Swedish or europeans values" . Values only come in colour to a racist . If you are going to judge all immigrants as "poor people who are looking for better life " better take a look in the mirror : you are looking at a RACIST !
10:28 March 29, 2013 by thomas59
It was one luniac in Norway killing children because they were members of the wrong political party.

And now we have this one wishing for the death of older people with the wrong ideas.

But why this antirasist has choosen to buy his house in a area with only white people ?
15:47 March 29, 2013 by Nick N
@Kronaboy: In case you missed, immigrants already *DID* set fire to a bus about a week ago. As for grovelling, they did nothing of the sort. They didn't even need any provocation. They just set the bus on fire.

In Denmark, they send guys like this home, but that wouldn't be possible in politically correct Sweden. As much as I hate the Sweden Democrats, I'm considering voting for them, as a way to send the other parties a message.
Today's headlines
National
Row over viral 'Nazi receipt' in Swedish shop
A cashier in a Coop supermarket: Photo: TT

Row over viral 'Nazi receipt' in Swedish shop

A photo of a till receipt with the Nazi slogan "Seig Heil" printed on it has gone viral in Sweden, with supermarket chain Coop launching an internal investigation. READ  

Society
Sweden tops 'financial well-being' rankings
Sweden's family-friendly policies contribute to well-being. Photo: TT

Sweden tops 'financial well-being' rankings

Swedes have fewer money concerns than people from any other European country, according to the latest major report on global well-being. READ  

BREAKING
King Carl XVI Gustaf 'unhurt' after crash
The Swedish king. Photo: TT

King Carl XVI Gustaf 'unhurt' after crash

BREAKING: Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf has been involved in a car accident but is unhurt, the Royal family's press office has confirmed to The Local. READ  

Elections 2014
Migration minister calls Feminists 'a dark force'

Migration minister calls Feminists 'a dark force'

Sweden's Migration Minister has said in a Facebook post that both the Sweden Democrats and the Feminist Initiative parties were "dark, gloomy, and destructive forces". READ  

The Local List
Ten Swedish designs that made life better
Playsam

Ten Swedish designs that made life better

Sweden has produced an indecent number of design classics. We take a look at some of the best - from toys to furniture, fabric designs to telephones, packaging to super-safe headwear. READ  

Sport
Juventus topple Malmö in Champions opener
Argentinian Carlos Tevez scores against Malmö. Photo: AP

Juventus topple Malmö in Champions opener

Malmö, the first Swedish club in the Champion's League for more than a decade, lost against Italian champions Juventus on Tuesday night in their Group A opener. READ  

Science
Swedes discover rare Antarctic fossils

Swedes discover rare Antarctic fossils

Researchers from Sweden have been speaking about a rare discovery of mammal fossils in the Antarctic. READ  

Ukraine conflict
Sweden Democrats reject EU-Ukraine pact
The Sweden Democrats have two MEPs, seen here with the party's leader Jimmie Åkesson. Photo: TT

Sweden Democrats reject EU-Ukraine pact

BREAKING: The European Parliament has backed an 'historic' agreement to allow closer trade between the EU and Ukraine, but the nationalist Sweden Democrats were among those trying to block the deal on Tuesday. READ  

Elections 2014
Löfven to get no help from Sweden's Liberals
Liberal party leader Jan Björklund. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Löfven to get no help from Sweden's Liberals

UPDATED: Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund says he has no plans to join a government with the election-winning Social Democrats, as Sweden's political future remains uncertain. READ  

Analysis
'Evolution' for Sweden's crowd-funding scene
Photo: Victor1558/Flickr

'Evolution' for Sweden's crowd-funding scene

The Local checks out crowd-funding in Sweden as US giant Kickstarter announces plans to launch in Scandinavia. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
How I became a surf blogger when I moved to Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Gallery
People-watching: September 11th
Blog updates

17 September

Deep election analysis (Blogweiser) »

"You think you’re bad? Well I’m American. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFbomLID0vU Deep deep analysis on Swedish election results. Vlog post: https://t.co/tjQgfa5Yie #svpol #val2014 #politics pic.twitter.com/oEK5ADFT8L — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) September 17, 2014 " READ »

 

15 September

Liten, litet, små & lilla (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej igen! Have you ever been confused about when to use “liten”, “litet”, “små” and “lilla”? Today I’m going to sort out how use the adjective “liten” (small) and the different forms of it. Liten or litet? “Liten” is the form we will use when referring to a noun with the gender “en”. For example: Min pappa har en..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Politics
Five possible election outcomes
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week - Hornstull, Stockholm
Analysis
Five differences between the UK and Sweden
Welshman Jonny Luck is now a chef in Sweden
Society
How I opened my own restaurant in Sweden's Malmö
Sponsored Article
Stockholm tech fest: relive the magic
Gallery
People-watching September 8th
Photo: TT
Politics
Feminists fight for first seats
Politics
Immigration cut push from Sweden Democrats
Sheryl Sandberg says women have "low expectations"
Tech
Facebook exec talks women's limits in Swedish business
Politics
Left Party calls for justice and equality
Politics
Green Party wants 'better world' for kids
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
National
Huge clear up underway after Skåne floods
Politics
Sweden's Alliance reveals full manifesto
Tech
Sweden's highest peak to lose title next year
Politics
How immigration became a key election issue
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

853
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
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN