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Gothenburg 'one of Europe's most segregated cities'

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Gothenburg 'one of Europe's most segregated cities'
An Isis flag in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photo: Uncredited/AP
17:35 CEST+02:00
One in ten school students in Gothenburg’s north-eastern suburbs sympathize with religious extremist organizations, according to a survey carried out by Swedish non-profit organization Varken Hora eller Kuvad.

"I was completely shocked when I saw the result. I perhaps would have guessed one percent. I’m speechless," Guluzar Tarhan Selvi, acting project manager at Varken Hora eller Kuvad told Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten (GP).

The Swedish government’s national coordinator against violent extremism said she was not hugely surprised by the number however.

"The study was carried out in some of the areas where we know there are people who have travelled to join Isis in Syria," Hillevi Engström said.

And the MP insisted it is good that more facts about support for extremist organizations are coming to light.

"You have to put forward all the facts and after that start prevention work early, and speak about everyone’s equal value and human rights in school. It’s also to do with alienation. Many people have a feeling that they don’t belong to society," she added.

Robert Hannah, a Swedish MP of the centre-right Liberals who grew up in north-eastern Gothenburg, said the study confirmed the city is divided.

"The study proves what we have known for a long time already: Gothenburg is one of the most segregated cities in Europe," he said.

"In some of Gothenburg’s segregated neighbourhoods radical Islamists are poisoning the kids to believe that the Isis genocide against Christians and Yezidis was right and that terrorism is a good thing. You can hear religious slang in almost every school in these neighbourhoods nowadays. For example the word ‘kaffir’, which is a derogatory term Isis and others use, and people who have left the neighbourhoods to join Isis are considered heroes by some," he added.

The survey took in responses from 1200 school students aged 12-18 in socially and economically challenged areas in Gothenburg, of which 11 percent said they felt sympathy for religious extremists, and 13 percent said they know someone with those kind of sympathies.

An earlier study carried out by the same organization in Stockholm was criticized for not being properly academically reviewed. The Gothenburg study was therefore analyzed by, among others, Hans Ekbrand, a professor at the Gothenburg University department of sociology and work science.

"The study shouldn’t be seen as a picture of the whole city because it was done in those areas and schools where the problem is believed to be at its worst. At the same time, if over 130 students answer that they sympathize with Isis or similar extremists, that’s in itself a lot, and a figure that of course should be taken seriously," Ekbrand told GP.

And Liberal MP Hannah insisted that an investigation on the spread of radical Islam in the affected neighbourhoods is needed.

"Gothenburg needs a crisis investigation to stop the spread of radical Islam in these neighbourhoods. Radical organizations should not be given grants, and schools with religious profiles must be banned," he proposed.

"However I’m not hopeful that the necessary changes will come since the current government are still in denial about how threatening the situation in Gothenburg actually is."

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