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Six claims and facts about Sweden: a closer look at Ami Horowitz' report

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Six claims and facts about Sweden: a closer look at Ami Horowitz' report
Refugees arriving in Malmö in 2015. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
17:34 CET+01:00
When US president Donald Trump this past weekend mentioned events in Sweden, he was referring to a TV broadcast about Swedish migration policy. Several claims in the broadcast are questionable, and some downright wrong. Swedish news agency TT has looked at the facts.

1. Claim: In the introduction to the Fox News segment, the presenter says: ”In 2016 alone the country accepted more than 160,000 asylum seekers”.

Fact: In 2016, nearly 29,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, a very sharp decline compared to 2015, when nearly 163,000 sought asylum, according to the Migration Board. In 2016 there were nearly 112,000 asylum decisions taken, some 67,000 were approved.

2. Claim: "They feel it is their moral duty to open their borders to all and any refugees that want to come to them”, says filmmaker Ami Horowitz in the interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Fact: In November 2015 Sweden sharpened border controls to temporarily include arrivals from within the EU, followed by temporary identity checks in January 2016. Together with actions in other European countries, led to a dramatic decline in the number of asylum seekers (see point 1).

In 2016, asylum policies were tightened in a number of ways, which meant that Sweden went from having the EU’s most generous asylum laws to the EU minimum level, according to the Migration Board.

3. Claim: "There was an absolute surge in gun violence and rape in Sweden once they began this open door policy” says Horowitz.

Fact: The number of killings in "the criminal world" has increased from an average of 4 per year 1990–1994, to 14 per year from 2010 to 2014, in the entire country of 10 million people. In 2015 the number is preliminarily estimated at 28, according to criminologist Michael Rying at the Police Authority.

Several such shootings took place also in 2016, but the overall rate of deadly violence in Sweden is still about 1 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 5 per 100,000 in the US, according to the FBI.

The number of reports of rape has increased. However, because of several changes in sexual crimes legislation, and a belief that the propensity to report sexual crimes is increasing, it is difficult to compare the numbers over time.

Self reported female victims of sexual crimes number between 1 and 1.5 percent during the period 2005–2012. In the latest survey, in 2015, the figure had risen to 3 percent, according to the National Crime Prevention Agency. The responses say nothing about the type of sexual offenses.

4. Claim (about immigrant suburbs): "These are areas that cops won’t even enter, because it’s too dangerous for them. This is the policy of the national police authority in Sweden" says Horowitz.

Fact: Untrue. On the contrary, the police have strengthened their presence in several areas.

"There are no areas that the police do not go in to. In a report from 2015 the police describe 15 particularly vulnerable areas. These areas are characterized by, among other things, the difficulty for the police to fulfill its duty. There are no guidelines that the police should not visit these areas" writes Johanna Blomqvist, spokesperson for the national policeforce, to TT.

5. Claim: "The government has gone out of its way to try to cover up some of these problems”, says Horowitz.

Fact: "The Foreign Ministry and the embassies are working continuously to spread an accurate and fair picture of Sweden. Unfortunately, we see a general tendency that the incidence of false information is increasing," foreign Minister Margot Wallström writes in an email to TT on Monday.

6. Claim: "Sweden had its first terrorist Islamic attack not that long ago, so they're now getting a taste of what we have been seeing in Europe already" says Horowitz.

Fact: This probably refers to suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab, who blew himself up at the corner Bryggargatan and Drottninggatan in central Stockholm over six years ago (December 11th, 2010). No one else was injured. In an audio file that Abdulwahab emailed to TT, the security police (Säpo) and his family the same day, he wrote that "The Islamic state" exists in Sweden and Europe, and that its "actions will speak for themselves."

Article by TT's Mattias Areskog and Malin Ekmark. Translation by Philip O'Connor and Vicktor Olsson.

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