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Sweden Democrats leader Åkesson: 'I support immigration'

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Sweden Democrats leader Åkesson: 'I support immigration'
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
11:23 CEST+02:00
Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the populist Sweden Democrats (SD) party, was interrupted twice as he spoke to a hostile crowd at the Järvaveckan cross-party political forum on Saturday.

Åkesson, who claimed in his speech to support immigration, also said that immigrants must understand how Swedish society works, reports news agency TT.

The SD party leader was initially interrupted shortly after beginning his speech by people in the crowd shouting “Jimmie, racist” and other slogans, according to the report.

“I think one theme is democracy and an important part of democracy is dialogue. To be able to talk to each other without using ugly words and yelling and instead showing respect for each other's opinions,” Åkesson said after resuming his speech.

He was interrupted a second time a few minutes later.

The Sweden Democrats leader was also met with applause when he said that another important part of democracy was that “you do not have to listen”.


Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

A recent opinion poll from Sweden's largest statistics agency suggests that the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats have taken the lead over the opposition Moderate Party as Sweden's second-largest political party.

The party, which has roots in the neo-Nazi movements of the 1990s, has an official zero-tolerance approach to racism.

But several elected Sweden Democrat politicians have been forced to vacate their seats over anti-Semitic or racist statements over the years.

READ ALSO: Just how 'far right' are the Sweden Democrats?

In his Järvaveckan speech, Åkesson addressed people living in the Järva area, asking who in the audience was born abroad.

Most of those in the crowd did not appear to have ethnic minority backgrounds.

“You must make an effort, you must learn the language, you must understand how Swedish society works, you must understand social codes, you must be able to support yourselves. That way we can build a cohesive Sweden again,” Åkesson said.

The Sweden Democrats should not be perceived by immigrants as a party that wants to "eat your children”, he added, and tried to explain to crowds why they should vote for his party.

READ ALSO: Why the Sweden Democrats and Centre Party could be key in the next Swedish election

“It is very wise [to vote for SD]. It is no wonder that if you are living in areas where there is organised crime then your everyday life is restricted. Is it wrong, then, to turn to the party that wants to fight these negative trends in society? I don't think so,” he said.

Nationalist party leader Åkesson went on to claim that he supports immigration.

“I support immigration. Sweden has always had immigration. And when it is up to me, we will still have immigration in this country. That's the way it is. But that doesn't mean we should have uncontrolled immigration. On the contrary. We must take responsibility. We must have responsible politics,” he said.

“As a nationalist, I see it as my primary task to bridge the gaps that exist,” he added.

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