Swedish Justice Minister hits back at Polish MEP’s attack on Sweden

Sweden's Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson has hit back at a Polish MEP who claimed Swedes were "fleeing" to Poland to escape crime and multiculturalism in their home country.

Swedish Justice Minister hits back at Polish MEP's attack on Sweden
Minister Morgan Johansson said that relatively few Swedes move to Poland, but was also critical of foreign-born thieves in Sweden. Photo: Tove Eriksson / TT

Polish MEP Beata Mazurek singled out Sweden as an example of negative “consequences of multiculturalism and open doors to immigration”, saying “Swedes are fleeing their country to find peace and normality in Poland”.

In 2018, 1,689 people moved from Sweden to Poland, including 1,377 Polish-born people and 241 Swedes. In the same period, 3,851 people moved from Poland to Sweden, according to Statistics Sweden.

Mazurek, a former spokesperson for the Polish national-conservative party Law and Justice and current member of the European Parliament's group of European Conservatives and Reformists ( ECR), falsely claimed there were “sharia zones” in Sweden and listed “murders, increased crime, rape” as consequences of Sweden's immigration policy. 

Johansson told Swedish daily Aftonbladet that the claims were false, citing immigration and crime statistics.

“It's completely pulled out of the air,” he said. “In 2017-2018 alone, more than 8,000 Poles moved to Sweden, more than three times the total number of Swedes who live in Poland. The MEP should therefore rather ask herself why so many Poles are 'fleeing' Poland.”

He added: “Something which we actually do have a problem with is foreign gangs of thieves, not least from Poland. Foreign gangs are behind around half of all break-ins in Sweden and 90 percent of all thefts of cars, boat engines, and agricultural machinery. If the MEP can do something about that, I'd be grateful.” 

The country does not keep official records on the ethnicity of perpetrators, but a recent government-ordered study by National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå) found no link between the rise in reported rapes and assaults and the arrival of refugees. 

While Sweden has seen a rise in reported rapes since 2005, this was said by Brå to be likely due to “the expanding of the legal definition of rape” that year. Another factor is the way in which sexual crimes are reported in Sweden, where all reported events are recorded as crimes and several offences of the same type are recorded separately, whereas many other countries would count multiple rapes or assaults by the same perpetrator as one offence. 

Mazurek shared an article from the conservative daily newspaper Nasz Dennik, according to which there are 2,500 Swedish citizens resident in Poland. Citing a Twitter survey conducted by Norway-based far-right account PeterSweden it stated that many Swedes wanted to leave the country for “their safety and that of their families”.

The article also falsely stated that Sweden was home to 80 neighbourhoods “practically controlled by Islamists, where Sharia is in force”, with Stockholm's Rinkeby suburb as “the largest” and saying “the police don't show up there, the ambulance can't come in, there is chaos”.

Rinkeby is one of around 60 neighbourhoods described by police as 'vulnerable' or 'especially vulnerable', meaning they are “characterized by a low socio-economic status where criminals have an impact on the local community”.

These areas, including Rinkeby, sometimes require emergency services to act differently – for example avoiding parking vehicles in certain areas due to higher than average vandalism, or engaging in long-term community building work, but police officers working in these areas have previously told The Local there are no “no-go zones” in Sweden.

IN DEPTH: Working on the front line in Stockholm's vulnerable suburbs

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Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.