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Firm sues Sweden over dislodged Muslim lawyer

TT/The Local · 8 May 2010, 10:55

Published: 08 May 2010 10:55 GMT+02:00

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The woman's employer, Salmi & Partners, was outraged after the Supreme Migration Court ruled on Thursday to have the woman taken off the case.

"It's just pure discrimination. We're going to demand 100,000 kronor ($13,000) from the state for this violation," said Ismo Salmi at the firm.

Salmi & Partenrs has also vowed to request leave from the Supreme Administrative Court to appeal the verdict.

The lawyer at the centre of the row was appointed last autumn by the Migration Board to represent an Egyptian man seeking asylum in Sweden. The man, a Christian, said he and his family were seeking asylum on grounds of persecution by Muslims in their home country.

On realising that his legal counsel was to be a Muslim woman, the man asked to be assigned a different lawyer.

The Migration Board refused his request, arguing that the lawyer's religion did not constitute sufficient grounds for a switch. The man then turned to the Migration Court of Appeal, where he stated that he did not trust his lawyer, a veil-wearing Muslim woman, to best represent his interests.

The appeals court however reached the same conclusion as the Migration Board and declined to allow the asylum seeker the right to be assigned a new lawyer.

But the Egyptian man appealed again. This time, the Supreme Migration Court ruled in his favour, giving him the right to be assigned a lawyer who was not a Muslim.

Story continues below…

Explaining its verdict, the court wrote that the man's grounds for seeking asylum were such that "his reaction to the situation is understandable."

At Salmi & Partners, Ismo Salmi said if the ruling were allowed to stand there was a serious risk that other law firms would think twice about employing lawyers who wore Muslim veils, as to do so might reduce their chances of getting work from the Migration Board.

"It's unbelievable that a superior court in Sweden can make a ruling like this. It's an incredible violation," he said.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:31 May 8, 2010 by Rebel
Why should any Jew or Christian worry about fiarness and impartiality from a Muslim?
12:21 May 8, 2010 by caradoc
why should any Muslim worry about fairness and impartiality from a Jew or Christian?
12:24 May 8, 2010 by Prat
Was this simple prejudice by the Egyptian asylum seeker? Lack of working chemistry with his counsel? As he seems not to be paying for legal representation, should he be happy with help from any front?

It's not mentioned if the veiled Muslim lawyer is a native Swede. If not, the case becomes seems more complex: did she perhaps choose to leave an Islamic nation?

Aren't most of these immigration hearings handled through paperwork? It's not that (for the original asylum case) the veiled lawyer is facing a judge & jury in the courtroom.
13:52 May 8, 2010 by Kevin Harris
Racists should not be pandered to by the state.

Sweden doesn't need any more racists, I hope he is sent back to Egypt. He has cost the Swedish tax payer a huge amount of money already. It looks like he is going to cost us 100 K SEK more when the lawyer receives her compenstation.
14:08 May 8, 2010 by calebian22
He is trying to escape religious persecution in Egypt by Muslims and doesn't want to be represented by a veil wearing Muslim here in Sweden, seems like a reasonable request. He is fearful based on bigoted members of the lawyer's own religion.
14:16 May 8, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
REBEL and CARADOC - LOL - good shot!

I thought this was already discussed when that the Migration Board banned a lawyer because he did not like islam.

Most of the comments posted were doubts that he as a lawyer could do his job in a professional manner.

In this case a "veiled?", ie extremist, practitioner of the very religion that has caused this man's family to flee is now in charge of their case????

It stinks of the Fox guarding the hen house!

How can she possibly do a professional job with an OBVIOUS enemy of islam?

Why is she suing? She was NOT fired! In the words of Shakespeare, I think she protests TOO MUCH - So maybe she was indeed being prejudicial working against this family?

This article does not have enough info!

@Kevin Harris - "Racists should not be pandered to by the state..."

Racism is about RACES - islam is NOT a race and therefore the only racism here is in you imagination.

Why should it cost us any money? There was no injury here. We pay because we need to show we are politically correct?
15:03 May 8, 2010 by vladd777
This could be classified as a moot case?


Anyway I tend to agree with DamnImmigrant.

I cannot believe that one can objectively serve the best interests of an 'enemy' without bias.

It appears to me that certain cultures often tend to take a refusal personally, which, in turn, causes a 'violent' reaction.

One wonders how it would have turned out had the boot been on the other foot.
17:36 May 8, 2010 by Abbot
Do some serious investigation into what is happening to Coptic Christians in Egypt by both the general Muslim population and the government and you will know why he doesn't want to be represented by a Muslim. You wouldn't want to be either in his case because he comes from a land where the entire legal system in intertwined with Islamic law and the deck is severely stacked against anyone of another religion and this is backed up by the law and courts.
17:44 May 8, 2010 by voiceofreason
This lady must have clearly failed to assuage the fear of her client. That begs the question that was she really going to stand in court and admit that openly professed faith has a doctrine of persecuting unbelievers.

Secondly, it is never an offense to reject the services of a counsel even if it is provided by the state. Everyone should get a fair representation.
18:00 May 8, 2010 by magudbe
I hope these case opens up a pandora's box and that Muslim clients should reject Christian and jewish lawyer and demand that they should served by Muslim lawyers in Sweden.. I have noticed that these kind of stories always attract same maggots and racists in this forum
18:23 May 8, 2010 by svenskdod
He obviously has some real prejudices. If he is fleeing from religious persecution, then I can understand his grievance. However, if the woman lawyer can swear that her religious doctrine is of lesser importance to her than the laws of the land then the Egyptian man needs to let go some of his prejudices. Many Muslims often say that Sharia is more important to them than the local law. Can she swear to the contrary?
18:36 May 8, 2010 by here for the summer
Christian are persecuted and murdered everyday in Egypt. he had every reason to be afraid.

some sample articles


00:39 May 9, 2010 by Sashland
Re #11 Svenskord

"He obviously has some real prejudices."

Why are you playing the "blame the victim" game?

He is not "pre"judged; he is experienced. His concern is based on reality, not perception.

Maybe you need to study HER religion more to understand who is prejudiced.

What good would it do to have her "swear" anything if her religion specifically permits her to lie, even under oath, to promote her religion.

She is a strict practicing member of a religion (veil), the same religion that the asylum seeker is fleeing. She should not have been assigned the case as there is a conflict of interest on the part of the attorney - a client should not have to wonder if his lawyer is placing the client's interests first. Her insisting on being assigned to the case should be viewed as a violation of her ethical oath to protect the client and place HIS interests first. What she is saying is 'my religion is more important than the client'.

An ethical lawyer would immediately recognize the conflict of interest, understand that she is adding stress and worry for a person in a serious personal legal crisis, and immediately resign. Instead, she sues. She should be disbarred for ignoring the overriding needs of her client - she is unable to represent him fully for the obvious reason - she will not be able to criticize the religion that led to the clients fleeing in fear of his life and point out directly the religious reasons, for doing so would put HER life at risk, and that underlying fear limits her ability to be the best attorney for him.

I wouldn't want her as my lawyer either... why should a client have to worry if their attorney can actually represent them properly?

"The egyptian man needs to let go of some of his prejudices" shameful comment. Yeah, just forget about the religiously motivated attacks and murders.

[please educate yourself and eliminate you own prejudice, OK?]

and don't forget to blame the victim.
05:34 May 9, 2010 by Tutu
I am against prejudice. However we are talking about a lawyer. If I am appointed a lawyer that i am not confortable with i will change him or her. It does not matter. As a Jewish person I will have to be convinced that a veiled muslim lawyer will defend me properly and prevent me from being sent back to Israel. (I am not a Jew). I must have total confidence in my lawyer for me to employ him or her. If it is in the field medicine, social services etc, i can call those prejudice.
06:47 May 9, 2010 by Guests
We cannot say that the lawyer is bias or not. However, I totally understand that it is hard to trust a lawyer to defend you if he/she is from the same flock as your 'enemy'.

It's important that a client has trust and confidence to his/her lawyer. You cannot expect someone 'traumatized' by a Muslin (in this case) to want to do anything with another Muslim.
09:02 May 9, 2010 by blursd
Something tells me if this were an Arab Israeli refusing to accept a Judeo Swedish lawyer we wouldn't be hearing anything about it.
11:29 May 9, 2010 by Mb 65
He has human rights the same as the Muslims. What amazes me is that all these so called racial discrimination's can be solved by handing over 100'000kr's.
11:31 May 9, 2010 by shoaib akram
I think after recording his protest this egyptian guy should have given a chance of representation to this muslim lawyer. Had she failed in getting him Justice or the prestigious Asylum in Sweden, he would have sued the Lawyer and Asylum system in the supreme court, stating that despite his protests he was forced to go with the lawyer and now she has destroyed my case. This would have brought more discrimination and injustice to muslims living in this country, whole of sweden would have cried over it. More companies would have banned employing Muslims or people with muslim names and eventually muslims should have fled the scene with their tails in their legs to the countries they come from. All the countries are racist to some extent, at least in my country they don't throw your c.v in the bin if your name sounds different and foreign.

Open your eyes folks, Lawyers have a code of conduct prescribed by the Swedish justice system, any lawyer who does not follow this code of conduct loses his/her license. They can even be sued for work ethics and failing to get justice for their clients. This Egyptian guy, I understand was persecuted in his land of birth but he sounds a little bit racist as well.
15:08 May 9, 2010 by Suzie F
Some of the comments on here are absurd! How, does anyone suppose the Egyptian man, could have felt comfortable with a lawyer of the same "thought train" and "belief system" as that held by those he was fleeing from. This is not racist, it is common sense. I do wish folk on here would educate themselves before commenting!
15:21 May 9, 2010 by bbeynch
Knowing what I know about the Coptic Christians in Egypt, solely based on what I read in the media, and in fairness to the process, it was probably wise to remove the muslim woman from the case. But if anyone is willing to correct me, I will listen.
17:08 May 9, 2010 by Kevin Harris
I am a Christian. So was Adolf Hitler. Does anyone have a reason why I'm unfit to represent a Jewish victim of the holocaust, or any other Jew for that matter? Bring me the evidence.

Here comes the 100 000 crown question. Does anyone have a reason why this particular Moslem lawyer is unfit to represent this particular Christian? Bring me the evidence. Has she taken part in the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt? Has she expressed her support for that? Has she expressed her support for Sharia law over Swedish law? Does she share anything at all with the persecutors of Coptic Christians in Egypt other than her religion? Will she deliberately do a poor job for him because he is a Coptic Christian? These are important issues. Please, bring me the evidence.

I very much expect she has as little to do with the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt as I have to do with the Holocaust. If you don't have any evidence to the contrary, I think several posters here owe this lady an apology.

If the Egyptian gentleman really is uncomfortable with the religous beliefs of the lawyer the state has generously paid for, there are some excellent alternatives in the Yellow Pages. He can either produce evidence why the lawyer he has been given is unfit to represent him, or he can pay for one himself.

I'm afraid that the lawyer is going to get her 100 000 crowns, or at part of it. This man has only been here a few months and he has already cost us significant legal fees. He is going to cost us a fortune.
17:48 May 9, 2010 by SamSoom
Let's put it other way around,

It been proofed that so many torture and murder cases have been commited by Christians (American and British) soldiers in Iraq against Muslim Iraqi people. Does that mean a Christian lawyer is unfit to represent a Muslim Iraqi Asylem seeker in the court ?!
20:34 May 9, 2010 by Kaethar
@Kevin Harris: I guess you haven't heard of this woman... She's the one who refused to shake hands with a journalist on Halal TV and believes adulterers should be stoned to death. She caused a huge controversy when she took part in this TV programme. Why shouldn't she be on this case? Because she's an islamist - as simple as that.
21:42 May 9, 2010 by Kevin Harris

I am a Christian, "as simple as that" too. So too was Adolf Hitler, also "as simple as that". I think everybody here agrees this person takes her faith very seriously. So do I. But what does that have to do with anything?

Veiled Islamic women who do not shake hands with men, and who hold strong views concerning the punishment for adultery ( a "sin" most Moslems find repulsive) are common amongst many millions of Moslems across the world. Save for your snide insinuations, these things cast no light on this particular person's attitude towards Coptic Christians, or any other kind of Christians.

Now where is the evidence I asked for that I am unfit to represent a Jew or that this woman is unfit to represent a Coptic Christian?

In case you ever meet a veiled Islamic women, the correct procedure is to wait for her to hold out her hand to you. If she does not, a slight nod and a smile are the respectful form of greeting. The journalist concerned (Carl Hamilton) knew this, and knew exactly what he was doing when he insisted on a handshake and then faked a hissy fit when he didn't get one. I thought at the time it was he who was rude, not her.
04:12 May 10, 2010 by here for the summer
@kevin .. you say you are a christian and have a christian tag name yet on all muslim realted issues you have voiced the more extreme of the pro muslim positions. As the say on the internet no one knows who you are.

Hopefully covered faces in public places will be banned in all of the EU soon. Until them it seems from some the comments that this lawyer's true profession is sueing the Swedish taxpayers. Seems to be a good gig. Nice work if you can get it.
06:16 May 10, 2010 by Tutu
adolft hitler was a nazist. He promogated nazism and not christianity. those that hate Jews are called nazist and not christians. how many times did hitler go to church or seen praying except that he called himself a christian. I wonder what type of christian kevin harris is, i think like that of hitler.

I will not allow a muslim woman that does not shake hands with men to defend me. I will not also allow a woman whose face i cannot see to defend me. This means she can put her religion above the oath she has taken to defend me. Those cultures are strange to Swedish culture and if any lawyer can not differentiate the between religion and work ethic, i am sorry i cannot use her.
09:24 May 10, 2010 by Kronaboy
Every person has the right to hire and fire their legal counsel, I am assuming that this individual is a state appointed legal representative and that the legal cost of this Christian woman were met by the state; therefore the position of the of the first court of appeal was absolutely correct if she could show no valid grounds for dismissal (i.e. incompetence), then the woman was free to represent herself or hire new counsel out of her own pocket, but why should the state face the additional cost of replacing a perfectly competent lawyer because of personal preferences and the decision of the court has set a dangerous present. Lawyers around the world represent people they find absolutely abhorrent, so what, following this decision were do we draw the line is it valid for a paedophile or rapist to demand representation by a fellow paedophile or rapist?????
09:45 May 10, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
Not enough information!

She should have been happy to step aside. It was her bosses who refused? She refused, claiming it was her bosses? The fact that she is suing, shows she fought to remain with this family?

I MISSED the financial aspect of this case! SHE does NOT work for immigration! She works at a private firm that contracted her services to immigration! OF COURSE she could not remove herself - loose out on all of those billable hours!?!?!


MAGUDBE - This would not open "up a pandora's box". Yes, if an islamic family was fleeing from SKINHEAD oppression then YES a skinhead should NOT be assigned to their case.

Being negative about islam is not racism.

@svenskdod - "if the woman lawyer can swear that her religious doctrine is of lesser importance to her than..."

Can't happen. Her religion is the PRIME directive, everything else is secondary!

@Sashland - "...

--What good would it do to have her "swear" anything if her religion specifically permits her to lie...

--a client should not have to wonder if his lawyer is placing the client's interests first.

--Her insisting on being assigned to the case should be viewed as a violation of her ethical oath to protect the client and place HIS interests first.

--What she is saying is 'my religion is more important than the client'.

--An ethical lawyer would immediately recognize the conflict of interest, understand ... Instead, she sues.

-- she will not be able to criticize the religion that led to the clients fleeing in fear of his life...doing so would put HER life at risk, and that underlying fear limits her ability to be the best attorney for him... "

WOW - took the words right out of my mouth! Excellent!

@shoaib akram - "...Had she failed...any lawyer who does not follow this code of conduct loses his/her license...he sounds a little bit racist as well"

RACIST!?!?! WHAT RACE WAS HE AGAINST????? I saw nothing that said he was racist! Where did you see racism? You are badly confused if you think islam is a RACE!!! It is a religion with peoples of many races in it.

Waiting for her to fail would have made it too late for his family! Where are they going to sue from - Egypt???? To disbar an attorney you have to show GROSS misconduct - good luck proving that!
10:33 May 10, 2010 by DAVID T
I would not have a lawyer I couldn't see - Deport her
11:05 May 10, 2010 by Kevin Harris
Wow, I have been called a Nazi and an Islamic extremist in successive messages. #25 and #26. You guys are all over the place on this one.

And yet still no one can produce any credible evidence at all why this particular Islamic women is unfit to represent this particular Coptic Christian. I'm afraid expressions of your own personal prejudice, and/or rants against Islam in general don't count.

Still waiting...........................................................
12:08 May 10, 2010 by Kronaboy
@Kevin Harris

Stop sulking I've been called a lot worse on this site.
14:31 May 10, 2010 by calebian22

She was wearing a veil, a symbol of conservative Islam. The Egyptian refugee was trying to escape persecution of conservative Islam. If he was only objecting to her based on her name or her skin color, then maybe she might have a stronger reason for feeling slighted. She wears an outwardly visible symbol, a veil, characteristic of the same people that were most likely persecuting him in Egypt. That is all the evidence that is required to understand his consternation and trepidation. The fact that you don't recognize this is more revealing about you than this refugee.
18:50 May 10, 2010 by Kevin Harris
Still waiting ............
19:22 May 10, 2010 by Kronaboy
@Kevin Harris

haven't you got anything better to do (you know chase some women etc..).
19:41 May 10, 2010 by RobinHood

He is wearing a crucifix, a symbol of conservative Christianity, He wears an outwardly visible symbol of the crusades, the Inquisition, the American army, a cross, characteristic of the same people that were most likely persecuted her Moslem ancestors for a thousand years.

I don't suppose he had anything to do with any of that, so let's all give him the benefit of the doubt, shall we.

While we're at it, let's all do the same for her.


One of the last thing six million Jews saw before they died was a belt buckle holding up the trousers of their murderers. On the belt buckle was inscribed "Gott mit uns" It means God with us. A powerful statement don't you think?
20:25 May 10, 2010 by calebian22
Robin Hood,

The cross is not a sign of the American military, I am not sure where you got that idea.

I will grant you that she should be given the benefit of the doubt in most social situations,however this is not one of those situations. The man has been persecuted by members of her religion of which she is a veil wearing member. It is obtuse to imagine that she is particularly liberal in her mentality. It is the height of insensitivity to force her upon him as his legal council when he is a religious refugee. I know Sweden is uber secular, but if it is going to accept religious refugees no matter the religion, a little consideration and sensitivity is not unreasonable to expect.
21:47 May 10, 2010 by RobinHood
And so we learn from Calebian 22 that Coptic Christians are entitled to the benefit of the doubt, but Moslems are not. I think that's all we need to know about him/her.
22:01 May 10, 2010 by calebian22
He is a religious refugee. He deserves a little latitude regarding his fear. You don't seem to understand that.
23:20 May 10, 2010 by reanimation_79
@ Calebian22

Wearing a veil, a symbol of conservative Islam??? ... If people should think the way you do, than we might think that Sweden is a conservative Christian country with the yellow cross on its flag? .... C'mon, we gotta be honest dat most of us, the Swedish are agnostic ...
06:58 May 11, 2010 by Uncle
@Kevin - What evidence do you need, if it is person's personal opinion? He is fleeing from a Muslim country like millions others do. Christians are running away as long as their lives are still with them from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq BECAUSE of muslims.

A muslim lawyer will not build a good case where he would prove that a religion-hating Islam is suppressing non-muslims in the defender's country, (which I am sure is the case). In DEFENDER's opinion. Can he have an opinion?

I would like to see a Palestinian, who would love to be represented by a

rabbinnic lawyer here. Oh, sorry, it is only muslims who are allowed to demand to have their lands "Juden rein". ... Because of their traditions of course... Understandable...Their governments are legally discriminating christians, and then christian EU gives them a lawyer who is obviously a part of this policy.

reanimation. Personal symbol and a country symbol - 2 slightly different things. A swastica tattooed on a chest DOES represent certain beliefs. On the other hand there is quite many swasticas in the symbols of India. Got the diff?
21:46 May 11, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
"The man, a Christian, said he and his family were seeking asylum on grounds of persecution by Muslims in their home country. On realising that his legal counsel was to be a Muslim woman (in full Muslim hijab regalia) the man asked to be assigned a different lawyer."

Of course, it's a natural instinct. The survival instinct. The instinct of self -preservation.

He should have requested a Christian lawyer who would at least be biased in his favour and not biased against him , in which case, justice could be perverted. It would be stupid to think otherwise.

The sentence would arrive at a reasonable conclusion if it read: "At Salmi & Partners, Ismo Salmi said if the ruling were allowed to stand there was a serious risk that other law firms would think twice about employing lawyers who wore Muslim veils as the ones most suitable for representing clients who were running away from Muslim persecution of Christians in countries where such persecution is known to take place, notably countries such as Egypt and Iraq which have an abominable record of persecuting Christians."


Anyway, there are many other cases that the Muslim lawyers in hijab can take.

Rebel asks rhetorically, "Why should any Jew or Christian worry about fairness and impartiality from a Muslim?"

It reminds me of this Jewish joke set in Nazi Germany and classified under Anti-Semitism:

"The Duke of Mannheim said to the Jewish scholar, Rabbi Isaac Brill:

"They say that Jews who come before the courts try to buy the favour of the judges with large amounts of money. Isn't it unjust to bribe the judge in order to bend the law?"

The Rabbi answered:

"The law isn't bent this way - on the contrary. Let me explain. When a Jew and a Christian have an argument and come to stand before a Christian judge, it is natural that the judge, to start with, is prejudiced in favour of the Christian. The money that the Jewish party gives to him motivates the judge to steer his opinion away from the Christian and to become completely impartial!"
11:09 August 10, 2010 by scorpion69
In Australia lawyers must act impartially in representing their clients viz the cab rank rule. Here a lawyer cannot, all other things being equal, refuse to represent a prospective client because the client holds beliefs inimical to him or her. Likewise in legally aided cases a person can either apply for legal assistance through their own lawyer though in some cases his or lawyer must be on the panel or if applying direct for legal aid accept that the relevant government authority has the final say in selectiing the lawyer to represent him or her.
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