“Extremism has found a new forum which is also very effective when it comes to spreading myths and prejudice,” integration minister Erik Ullenhag of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) writes in an opinion piece published Monday in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
Ullenhag cites a report issued earlier in the year by the Forum for Living History (Forum för levande historia) which found there had been a dramatic increase in the number of racist websites in Sweden in recent years.
While racism is hardly a new phenomenon, writes Ullenhag, racist myths and stereotypes have found a new foothold on the web, and must be addressed there.
“Prejudice will be met with the facts that exist,” he writes.
The new site, regeringen.se/tolerans, attempts to debunk a number of “common internet myths about immigrants and minorities”.
“One always needs to engage in debates about xenophobia and prejudice,” writes Ullenhag, who also warns of the dangers of “the silence of forces for good”.
Among the myths addressed on the website are claims that Sweden will soon be a Muslim country, that Swedes are on their way to becoming a minority in their own country, and that Swedish children are no longer allowed to eat pork in school.
In announcing the launch of the new website, Ullenhag goes on to explain that a number of the myths addressed on the site have “even found their way into debates in the Riksdag”.
“We can therefore see how internet prejudices can be found in the political debate,” writes Ullenhag.