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50% want immigration cuts

The Local · 11 Jun 2004, 00:00

Published: 11 Jun 2004 00:00 GMT+02:00

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Monday's Svenska Dagbladet was treated to a sneak preview of a major new survey from Gothenburg University, and all the indications are that Sweden's welcome mat may be wearing thin.

63% of Moderate Party supporters, the most sceptical group, want Sweden to accept fewer refugees, compared with 49% of Social Democratic Party supporters.

Marie Demker, professor of political science at Gothenburg University, told SvD that the public's dissatisfaction with refugee numbers is more to do with the consequences of failed immigration policies than a general opposition to refugees themselves.

"Many people understand that it's not working and that this leads to negative social effects," she said.

The survey found that people who consider themselves to be left-leaning in their political views are more welcoming of refugees, as are those with a university education. Indeed, only 32% of those with a degree want Sweden to clamp down on refugees, compared to 62% of those who started working straight after high school.

None of which explains an astonishing outburst from the bishop of Linköping, Martin Lind, which was reported in Tuesday's Östgötacorrespondenten. Lind told the paper that the Swedish Church should refuse to baptise immigrants who have not been given permanent residence status in Sweden.

He believes that refugees are converting to Christianity in order to help their asylum application, and he wants to stop people entering Sweden through God's back door.

"There are certain situations where one can make an exception. But I think that we should exercise extreme caution and be restrained when it comes to baptising refugees who want to convert," he told the paper.

"Migrationsverket has had treated muslims who want to convert with suspicion, and probably rightly so," he added.

In April he told the Christian magazine Sändaren that "beliefs cannot be the only reason to be given asylum. Otherwise many refugees would convert just to stay in Sweden."

But his views are not winning him many disciples.

"This is an astounding pronouncement from a bishop in the Swedish Church," said the asylum seekers' ombudsman, Merit Wager.

"Someone should tell the bishop, who's also a member of the Migration Board's ethics committee, that refugees have to answer a load of questions and describe how their conversion came about - they can't simply say they've converted, just like that," she added.

Story continues below…

Followers of Sweden's asylum stories would be forgiven for thinking that it's all one-way traffic. But Tuesday's Metro reported that for the first time a European woman has been given asylum in the USA on the grounds of wife-battering in her homeland.

That homeland is Sweden and the woman is 'Maria Eriksson' - not her real name - who was the subject of Liza Marklund's book, 'The Hidden'. The book followed her repeated abuse at the hands of her husband, which led to her permanently being on the run or in hiding - a fate apparently shared by between 8,000 and 9,000 women in Sweden today.

Bo Andersson at the National Police Board admitted to Metro that there's not much the police can do for women in this position.

"Of course, we act in an acute situation, but then we can't do any more than tell the woman to be careful, which is insane. These men should be electronically tagged."

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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