Hate crimes plague Södertälje refugees

Muslims and newly arrived refugees in Södertälje, just south of Stockholm, are being subjected to harassment and hate crimes, according to police.

The attacks have been concentrated in the town’s Hovsjö district and police believe that youth gangs comprised of members with different immigrant backgrounds are responsible.

In the past year, Södertälje has gained international recognition for the large number of Iraqi refugees who have settled in the city, resulting in the town being dubbed “Little Baghdad”.

Hovsjö is known as a multiethnic neighbourhood with a high concentration of residents with non-Swedish backgrounds.

“They don’t realize the terror they are spreading to the families. What we used to call mischief when we were younger has crossed over to pure hate crimes,” said the police’s Thomas Mattisson to the Länstidningen newspaper in Södertälje.

The newspaper described several cases reported to police, including that of a 5-year-old who was attacked by a gang of young people aged 8 to 17-years-old, and adults who poured urine into mail slots of apartments occupied by Muslims.

Authorities have long been aware that newly arrived Muslims have been targeted by groups of Christian immigrants, but more recently Iraqi Christians have also been the victims of hate crimes.

Hovsjö resident Louris Kalo, a non-Muslim native of Syria, was the victim of an attack in which a group of 30 or so young people threw eggs at her apartment and wrote offensive words on her door.

She works as a hairdresser and has received protection from the Securitas security company and the police in order to get home after work.

“Most of the families in Hovsjö are good families and I don’t want to move away from here. But for the kids own good I hope their parents do something before it’s too late,” she told the paper.