A voice for newcomers in Sweden

'Immigration is a taboo subject in Sweden'

Danish radio presenter Mikael Jalving. Photo: Stine Nielsen

Published: 30.Jun.2014 12:08 hrs

The Local chats to the host of a new radio programme in Denmark that tackles the cultural divide between Swedes and their Danish neighbours, and pokes particular fun at the Swedes for their unusual taboos.

For two countries that have so much in common, Sweden and Denmark have vastly different approaches to the public debate. 
 
At least, that's what you'll hear on a new programme on Danish radio station Radio24syv, which will be targeted at a Swedish audience despite being recorded in Copenhagen. 
 
The Local Denmark chats to the host, historian and author Mikael Jalving, about his effort to help Swedes deal with taboo subjects. 
 
He says that while Danes and Swedes are extremely alike, there are a heap of differences.
 
"One of these is that the presence of dissent and ideological tensions is much more taboo in Sweden than here. The political nobility of Sweden seems to be obsessed with mainstreaming the right to tolerance, equality and multiculturalism. So it’s not just a difference of opinion on certain topics, but rather how we tackle issues and taboos," he says.
 
 
He adds that in Sweden it's preferable to have taboos than to criticize them.
 
"You see this in areas like immigration and the integration of people from Muslim countries, feminism, prostitution, authority, nationality, crime and punishment, and even the approach to schooling. Swedes view the Danish discourse as something evil, racist, fascist – you name it," he explains, adding that a discussion about this with the Swedes themselves will be the focus of the programme.
 
In the full interview, published here on The Local Denmark, Jalving slices a burning sword through the Swedish mentality, suggesting that their "avant-garde self stature" is prime for satire.
 
Another topic he plans to tackle is immigration.
 
“The first taboo in Sweden is that immigration is a good thing. It is presented as something profitable - financially, politically, and culturally – and as a refreshing and rebooting of the populace," he explains.
 
"The next is that the quantity of immigrants doesn’t matter, that you can take in as many as you want. In any other European country, whether one likes immigration or not, quantity is a natural topic of discussion. How many can we take in? That is a practical and pragmatic question, but Sweden does not have that conversation. Pragmatism is seen as something unholy or evil.”
 

More Stories

Anas Awad with his "Swedish family" told his story to The Local Voices

Sharing the best of The Local Voices

We told a lot of great stories in 2016. Did you get to read and share them all? READ
The Riksdag this week voted in favour of tightening Sweden's laws on sex crimes and making consent pivotal in the matter. Here are five key points on the change. READ
Sweden is home to some of the world's most liberal abortion legislation, but it wasn't always like that. READ
Bummed about the portable barbecue ban in Stockholm? Fear not: you can still enjoy some summer grilling at these scenic approved spots. READ
A Swedish vicar is about to become the first priest in Spain to conduct a gay wedding. READ
Photo: Erik Gerhardsson

'History will record how everyone reacted to the Syrian tragedy'

Erik, a 21-year-old Swedish volunteer, reflects on his experience helping refugees in Sweden and abroad. READ
Swedish furniture giant Ikea on Thursday announced a recall of its bicycles following a string of accidents caused by problems with the drive belt. READ
Sweden has the third most powerful passport in the world, according to a new index which ranks the level of visa-free access passports provide to their holders. READ
The Swedish parliament has voted in favour of tightening the country's laws on sex crimes. READ
From war to international students: how much do you know about the week that was in Sweden? READ

This Iranian teaches Swedish online to 10,000 followers

"I’m exporting Swedish to my homeland." READ