• Sweden's news in English

Swedish town restricts 'immigrant weddings'

David Landes · 16 Nov 2009, 14:20

Published: 16 Nov 2009 14:20 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“We don’t want to have too many,” Lars Svensson, the centre's manager and Social Democratic member of the Landskrona local council, told the local Helsingborgs Dagblad (HD) newspaper,

Svensson then went on to explain what he meant by the term “immigrant wedding”.

“It’s those who live in the city. There are quite a lot of Kurds and Palestinians who get married. There's something about having an oriental background; there can be between 400 and 500 guests,” Svensson explained, adding that "European immigrant groups" aren't included in the term.

According to Svensson, the policy comes following repeated complaints about the noise and untidiness associated with “immigrant weddings” held at Landskrona’s Folkets Hus, translating literally into English as “The People's House”.

But in Landskrona, Svensson’s policies have left members of some immigrant groups shut out of using the community centre.

Moreover, it seems that weddings thrown by some European immigrant groups are in fact included in Svensson's category of "immigrant weddings".

Local resident Habib Ramadani, originally from Kosovo, has lived in Landskrona for ten years and had hoped to hold a wedding reception for his son in the town’s community centre last year.

But Svensson rejected Ramadani’s request, citing the proud father’s immigrant background.

“If he had said, ‘no, it’s booked’, that would have been the end of it. But then he asked what country I was from,” Ramadani told the newspaper.

Ramadani told Svensson he was from Kosovo, still hoping to be able to rent out the community centre’s great hall.

“He said, ‘Not for you, you all throw cake on the floor instead of in your mouths,’” Ramadani explained.

“But the great hall was free that weekend. Others who worked there told us so.”

Having already sent out hundreds of invitations to guests around the world, Ramadani offered to pay professional cleaners to ensure the hall would be spotless following the event.

Svensson remained firm, however, prompting Ramadani to try another approach.

“Then I offered to pay for two days. But he said that this is the People’s House and as a result, people must be given access,” Ramadani told HD.

Even a promise to keep the party alcohol free didn’t help, leading Ramadani to question Svensson's explanation.

“Do I not count as a person? I pay taxes and I’m a part of society. But when we want to rent space for a wedding, suddenly I’m only an immigrant,” he said.

“It’s like Lars Svensson wants to get rid of parties thrown by foreigners. It’s called the Peoples’ House but it should be called the Swedes’ House.”

According to Ramadani, Svensson also claimed that “immigrant weddings” require advance payment because people who arrange them don’t share “our norms” when it comes to paying bills.

Svensson told the newspaper that the community centre has been criticized by accountants for accepting payments for “immigrant weddings” in cash, often in large sums the day of the event.

“We’ve discussed this a lot. The accountants say ‘either send a bill or pay in advance’. But we probably wouldn’t have received any money. Those who arrange weddings don’t abide by our conditions, by our norms. They come with wads of bills in their pockets,” he said.

Per Holfve, a lawyer with Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – DO) think’s Svensson’s policy of limiting the number of “immigrant weddings” could violate the country’s anti-discrimination laws requiring everyone to have equal access to the facility, regardless of ethnicity.

Story continues below…

“I think it sounds like they are on thin ice. It’s one thing if someone wants to rent the space and there are concerns about problems maintaining order, but then they have to be concrete; it’s not enough to say that it's something to do with ethnic affiliation. Then it’s nothing other than stereotyping,” Holfve told the newspaper.

But Svensson doesn’t see any problem with limiting the number of immigrant weddings, claiming he is simply doing his best to maintain a balance that reflects the makeup of the community.

“The board’s policy is that if 20 percent of Landskrona’s residents have immigrant backgrounds, have another ethnicity, then they have the right to express their culture. And they can do that at the People’s House,” he said.

“We try to avoid discrimination. But the alternative is prohibiting these parties altogether.”

Folkets Hus is the name given to municipal halls through Sweden created during the rise of the country’s trade union movement in the early 20th century.

According to the website of the National Federation of People's Parks and Community Centres (Folkets Hus och Parker), the community centres were originally created by groups of workers in order to allow them to have a place to organize and hold meetings at a time when property owners “were afraid of the revolutionary ideas” that might be discussed at such gatherings.

The community centres represented a “significant step on the path towards equality and democracy” and remain “an important part of the social economic system” in Sweden where “marginalized groups, such as immigrants, women and unemployed can find support and together work for a better future”.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Sweden wants emission-free cars in EU by 2030
Photo: Jessica Gow/ TT

Sweden's environment minister on Saturday urged the European Union to ban petrol and diesel-powered vehicles from 2030.

Hundreds protest Swedish asylum laws
Around 1,000 people protested in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Persson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday demonstrated in Stockholm and in many other parts of the country to protest Sweden’s tough new laws on asylum-seekers.

Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available