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RACISM

Structural racism ‘still a problem’ in Sweden

Sweden has failed to address the problems of structural racism, discrimination, and hate crimes despite ten years of criticism, the head of the country's United Nations Association has warned ahead of meeting with a UN anti-racism body in Geneva.

Structural racism 'still a problem' in Sweden

On Thursday and Friday, Sweden will be interrogated by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to update the group on steps taken by the government to fight racism and discrimination in Sweden.

But according to Aleksander Gabelic, a Social Democrat MP and head of Sweden’s UN Association, Sweden has made little progress in the last ten years, despite repeated criticism from various UN bodies.

“Unemployment among the foreign born is still three times higher than among people born in Sweden,” he said in a statement.

“A Swedish name is often a prerequisite for being called to an employment interview.”

Gabelic argued that Sweden could benefit from applying positive discrimination policies that have helped women enter male-dominated fields and vice-versa should also be applied to people of different ethnic backgrounds to help companies increase diversity in the workplace.

A report released this week by the Sweden’s UN Association and 50 other organizations found more than 5,000 hate crimes were reported in 2012, with 74 percent motivated by racism or xenophobia.

The report also cited racial profiling by the police, saying they disproportionately target people with foreign backgrounds for random stops and interrogations, an issue that received a great of media attention earlier in the year following accusations that police in Stockholm were targeting foreigners in the city’s metro system in a search for illegal immigrants.

“Perhaps the most significant human rights challenge facing Sweden today is ensuring tolerance and respect for the rights of minorities and immigrants in a growing and increasingly multicultural state,” the report said.

“Despite some development and implementation of legal standards pertaining to non-discrimination, indigenous, ethnic and religious minorities continue to suffer discrimination in all areas of life.”

Gabelic urged the government to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat hate crimes that includes public awareness and stronger legislation. Sweden should also create a new, independent authority to review legislation for compliance with international human rights law, he added.

“Working against structural racism and discrimination is about both legislation and attitudes. Providing information and actively combating stereotypes that affect immigrants and minorities is one of the most important tasks for the government and public authorities,” Gabelic said in a statement.

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CRIME

Police in Sweden block Danish extremist’s new demo

Police in western Sweden have rejected an appeal by the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan against a decision to deny him permission for a Koran-burning protest in Borås.

Police in Sweden block Danish extremist's new demo

“Rasmus Paludan has a rhetoric which is intended to create disorder and chaos,” Emelie Kullmyr, the police officer in charge of protecting this year’s General Election in Western Sweden, said in a press release.

“We have seen how the public has been exposed to serious danger and police officers have been injured. The task of the police is to ensure security and we will do that, but all positive forces need to be helped to maintain peace and order.” 

In the press release, the police emphasised the importance of the public’s right to demonstrate and express their opinions freely, but said that the right to hold public demonstrations could still be curtailed in “exceptional cases”. 

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Paludan, who aimed to hold the demonstration on April 29th, can now appeal the police’s decision at the local civil court in Borås. 

He has now applied to hold on May 1st rallies in Uppsala and Stockholm for his far-right party Stram Kurs, or “Hard Line”. 

Koran-burning demonstrations held over the Easter holidays in the cities of Norrköping, Linköping, Malmö, Örebro, and in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby, led to the worst riots Sweden has seen in decades, with 100 police officers injured.

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