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Foreign-born Swedes join anti-immigration party

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Foreign-born Swedes join anti-immigration party
Nima Gholam Ali Pour. File photo: Private
07:48 CET+01:00
Men with roots outside of Sweden are increasingly attracted to the tough migration stance of the minority Sweden Democrat party, with one new Persian-Swedish member telling The Local why he decided to join.

Nima Gholam Ali Pour is at a meeting with his new party colleagues in Malmö but steps outside to speak with The Local. He joined in November, after spending months in self-imposed political party isolation.

He left the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, in protest after the election of Islamic Association chair Omar Mustafa to a top-tier position. Mustafa was later forced to resign, but Gholam Ali Pour, a frequent blogger and commenter whose work has appeared on The Local, was about to set his sights on the Sweden Democrats. 

"Nobody else wants to talk about immigration and culture clashes," he tells the Local. "I basically joined a party that does talk about it."

Sveriges Radio journalist Zinat Hashemi on Thursday revealed that Gholam Ali Pour is far from alone. Among men with roots outside Europe, 7.4 percent said they sympathized with the Sweden Democrats. The data came from Statistics Sweden (SCB), the country's official statistics agency, and while far from a fool-proof way to analyze how Swedes will actually vote next year, the support among foreign-born men for the party had gone up almost three-fold in two years.

This new group of supporters also outnumber, proportionally to the population segment's size, Swedes with no roots abroad. Among the latter, 6.8 percent said they sympathized with the Sweden Democrats - 0.6 percentage points lower than the support among foreign-born men.

Gholam Ali Pour's family came to Sweden as quota refugees in 1987. His mother had been fired from her job for helping shelter left-wing activists. He says the transition to Sweden had not been easy.

"When you run an entire library in Iran, you're not very happy about working as a carer at a pre-school...no I don't think my parents are particularly satisfied," he says.

While his own family arrived as refugees and would potentially be barred entry if the restrictive immigration policies he now supports were then in force, Gholam Ali Pour says he wants labour-market matching to be the guiding light in Sweden's migration policy. He says that high unemployment in migrant-dense areas risks setting off more incidents such as the unrest in the Stockholm neighbourhood of Husby in May. 

"People feel they are treated unfairly when actually they are the ones who don't have education or social capital," he says.

Reactions from the Persian-Swedish community to news that he had joined the Sweden Democrats were "mixed". 

"There haven't been any threats, people have called me stupid and told me to brush up on my reading, but my parents support me," says Gholam Ali Pour, who is open to the idea of one day running for office for the party. 

Was he worried, however, that members such as he would not truly be welcome in a party that was just purged of several representatives that left hateful racist comments online? 

"I am not worried that those kinds of forces will get power in this party," he says. "They made anonymous comments because they knew that the party distances itself from those kind of comments." 

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