UN ‘concerned’ about level of racism in Sweden

A report released by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on Friday expressed repeated concern over the level of racism in Sweden.

UN 'concerned' about level of racism in Sweden
The UN report pointed to the increased activity of neo-Nazi groups like NRM, shown here in a May 1 demo in Ludvika. Photo: Ulf Palm/TT
The report pointed to “racist hate speech against Afro-Swedes, Jews, Muslims and Roma”, a problem that the committee said is particularly prevalent “during election campaigns, as well as in the media and on the internet.” 
“The Committee is particularly concerned with reports of arson attacks against mosques and reception centres for asylum seekers,” the report added. 
Fires at asylum facilities around Sweden have occurred on several occasions since the number of migrants arriving in the country peaked in 2015. At least 112 blazes occurred at asylum accommodation centres, or planned accommodation centres, across Sweden in the following year, according to national police statistics.
Mosques have also been the frequent targets of both arson attacks and racist vandalism. The report criticized Sweden for a “lack of sufficient funding to safeguard mosques against attacks”.
“The Committee is also concerned at the continued reports of racist hate crimes and hate speech against Muslim ethno-religious minority groups, especially Muslim women,” the report stated, adding that Muslims in Sweden face “difficulties […] in terms of access to employment and housing outside of minority populated areas, amounting to de facto segregation.”
The report also pointed to the “stereotypical representation of Muslims in the media, and by politicians.”
The recent spate of public rallies by neo-Nazi groups like the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) also caught the UN’s notice. 
“The Committee is concerned at the presence of racist and extremist organizations in the State party, and their public demonstrations,” it stated. The report further chastised Sweden for not investigating crimes by neo-Nazi groups as terrorism. 
The UN Association of Sweden also presented an alternative report to offer input on the CERD report, as did Civil Rights Defenders, the Sami Council, the Swedish Muslims in Cooperation Council, among others.
Aleksander Gabelic, chairman of the UN Association of Sweden (which is not affiliated with the UN) said earlier this spring that the nation’s leaders “must be more rigorous in dealing with racist and Nazi organizations.”
“The increasing threat from racist and Nazi groups must be addressed,” Gabelic said in conjunction with the report’s release. “It’s not fair that people should be afraid to be in the streets and squares of our cities.”
The UN CERD report can be read here