Growing up, I spent every summer travelling from Egypt to Sweden to stay with my mother's family in Skåne.
I always used to find Swedes really friendly. They seemed to want to help people who looked different, they offered assistance to those who didn't know the language, and always had so much energy and tolerance.
But now what I would call ‘discreet racism’ is significantly on the rise. As a Swedish guy myself who’s olive skinned with dark hair and eyes, I have noticed that people have started to look differently or even disdainfully at me when I am visiting. Swedes are growing tired of so many foreigners arriving. And I can understand why.
The last Swedish government called on the country's citizens to ‘open their hearts' to asylum seekers and other foreign workers and the current coalition talks about how immigration is the key to Sweden's bright future. Sweden currently takes in more refugees per capita than any other EU nation. But something seems to be going wrong.
Any country that welcomes such a large influx of foreigners in such a short time is bound to experience some kind of shock and I believe Sweden is going through this right now.
Mark Fahmy. Photo: Private
For example, many fear that the values and traditions of Swedish society are being compromised for the sake of globalization and acceptance. The government, however, fails to make immigration a subject up for open discussion. It seems to fear any potential criticism that could lead to Sweden falling short of its reputation as the most liberal and tolerant country in Europe. In fact, there is such a new phenomenon reshaping everyday life that is not being thoroughly discussed and this only serves to have negative counter-effects.
In a country known for its extremely high tax rates, it is only natural that people need to know how their tax money is being allocated. It is only natural that they want to have a say in its allocation. It is only natural that some people are disappointed that their health, educational and housing systems are under threat while money is being sent tackling immigration.
The mainstream opposition parties are starting to talk about immigration a bit more but the government needs to start being more transparent without further delay.
In my opinion, Sweden should not compromise parts of its identity as immigration continues. The Swedish flag is a source of pride for Swedes and it should stay that way. Sweden should limit the possibility of immigration to those people who really value the country's core values of freedom and democracy.
Any disturbance to the core principles of Swedish society should not be tolerated. If Swedish citizenship is given out to new people, it should be to those who regard Sweden as a safe haven for freedom of speech and expression and plan to continue to support these values.
Casual racism is on the rise in Sweden because too many immigrants aren't adopting the Scandinavian country's values.
If Sweden sticks to its current approach, it is just going to make discrimination in this country worse. It will be those who strongly admire and take pride in Sweden's values, but don't have a typical Swedish appearance, that are bound to suffer the most.
For the sake of tolerance, rethink immigration.