Four out of ten Swedes want Sweden to fight Isis

Four out of ten Swedes want Sweden to fight Isis
Syrians return to the town of Palmyra, destroyed by Isis. Photo: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Four out of ten Swedes think Sweden should join the war on Isis militants in Syria.

Sweden should be part of a co-ordinated international military assault on Isis, 40 percent of respondents said when quizzed by pollsters at the SOM insitute at Gothenburg University.

The idea enjoyed the most support from people who told researchers they supported either the centre-right Moderates – Sweden's biggest opposition party – or the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.

Meanwhile, 23 percent thought Sweden should not join a co-ordinated military assault on Isis.

The SOM Institute, which researches Swedish society, media and politics, conducts annual surveys on public opinion.

The latest figures, which were presented on Tuesday, compare to last year when researchers asked if Sweden should join military action in Syria, without specifically mentioning Isis. A total of 62 percent then answered no.

“It's easier to have a stance when it comes to participating in military action on someone who cuts people's throats on YouTube,” Swedish defence researcher Karl Ydén explained the rise to the TT newswire.

Sweden's intelligence service Säpo has previously identified around 300 people as having left Sweden since 2013 to join Isis jihadist groups in the Middle East. It believes 135 have since returned to Swedish soil and has said returning fighters are among the biggest threats to Swedes.

The Scandinavian country has previously promised to assist France with materiel, training and transport flights in its war against Isis, following the Paris terror attacks, which were linked to a Swedish suspect on Wednesday.

Tuesday's SOM survey also reaffirmed previous polls indicating that immigration and integration have rocketed to the top of issues that the Swedes care the most about, following its intake of an unprecedented 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015, many of whom are Syrians fleeing Isis.

More than half of all respondents, 53 percent, thought that immigration and integration were the most important questions facing the Nordic nation at the moment, compared to 27 percent a year ago – regardless of whether they were in general for or against taking in more immigrants.

“We have a new number one. This is the overriding issue right now when the Swedish people think about social issues,” said political science professor Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson.

The survey questioned 17,000 people last autumn, around half of whom responded.