Afrophobia, defined as hostility towards people with a background from sub-Saharan Africa, is soaring in Sweden, according to the researchers who compiled the government-commissioned report. They wrote on Monday in the opinion pages of the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN) that it was time society took these statistics seriously.
Between 2008 and 2012, the number of reported hate crimes against Afro-Swedes, defined as anyone with African heritage living in Sweden, rose by 24 percent, while hate crimes in general during the same period decreased by six percent. Between 2011 and 2012 alone, the number of Afrophobic hate crimes rose by 17 percent, the researchers explained.
A prominent and recent example includes that of a 32-year-old Ghanian man who was attacked with his toddler son on a bridge in Malmö. The unprovoked incident was labelled a hate crime because the attackers used racial slurs as they dangled the man over the bridge.
Sweden's African community is also discriminated against when it comes to housing and employment opportunities, the researchers noted.
Sweden is currently home to an estimated 180,000 Afro-Swedes. Around 90 percent of them have roots in sub-Saharan Africa, with the remaining ten percent hailing from North and South America, and the rest of the world. Forty percent of Afro-Swedes were born in Sweden and have at least one parent from sub-Saharan Africa.
Researcher Samson Beshir said one of the reasons behind the spike in hate crimes was the dehumanization of Africans.
"Take the portrayal of Africans in school material for example, Africa is only referred to as an object in connection with colonization," he told the TT news agency.
The researchers called for several measures to break the trend and to put an end to Afrophobia in Sweden, including a state-funded investigation, an increase in public education about Sweden's role in the slave trade, and more generous compensation for victims of discrimination.
Sweden's Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag agreed that the matter must be taken seriously.
"I am especially concerned about the situation for the Somali-Swedes," he told TT. "This is the group that has been exposed to the most stereotypes in this debate during the past few years."
He added that the new report would be reviewed, but expressed his reservations about some of the proposals, including one calling for affirmative action.
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