Rosengård ‘growing more radical’

A majority of Rosengård's inhabitants believe the troubled Malmö suburb has undergone a radicalization over the past five years, a new study shows.

Experts believe the city council needs to be allocated greater financial resources if it is to get to grips with the rise of political and religious extremism.

Researchers Magnus Ranstorp and Josefine Dos Santos from the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College were tasked by the government with examining the effects of preventive measures taken in Sweden against violent extremism and radicalization.

As part of their studies, the researchers conducted extensive interviews with school personnel and police officers active in the Rosengård district.

The vast majority of respondents were of the view that the predominantly immigrant suburb had become considerably more radical over the last five years.

Ranstorp and Dos Santos describe how “ultra-radical” Islamists attached to basement mosques “preach isolation and act as thought controllers while also maintaining a strong culture of threats, in which women in particular are subjected to physical and psychological harassment.”

“Newcomer families who were never particularly traditional or religious say they lived more freely in their home countries than they do in Rosengård,” the researchers write.

Rosengård district committee chairman Andreas Konstantinides (SocDem) said he shared the researchers’ concerns about “thought police” controlling the climate of expression in the area.

“I actually think these radical individuals are limited in number. But they exert an influence through manipulation and exploiting the situation.”

Konstantinides said he viewed the moderate Muslim majority, who are irritated and concerned by the radicals, as a resource with which to counteract their rise.

“We need to try to mobilize the forces for good. We cooperate well with the Islamic Center, for example, which runs the main mosque in Malmö,” he said.

Integration and Equality Minister Nyamko Sabuni reacted strongly to the report.

“It is completely unacceptable that there are fundamentalist groups in Rosengård prescribing child marriage, harassing women who don’t wear headscarves and encouraging young people to isolate themselves from society. Swedish laws, rights and equality apply to everybody, including the residents of Rosengård,” Sabuni said in a statement.

The minister added that a series of coordinated measures were necessary in order to tackle radicalization, involving schools, social services and the police.

Rosengård was the scene of extensive rioting in December following the closure of an Islamic cultural centre in the area.