Due to the fact that I have my home base in Stockholm, a couple of people have asked me what I think about the current riots in some of Stockholm’s suburbs, and whether I am surprised by it. So I thought I’ll write down some thoughts.
Let’s start with the important things: In my eyes Sweden has been rather successful with integrating immigrants into the society. I base this statement solely on my own perception and observation, and in comparison to Germany where I’m from. Take the subway in Stockholm and you’ll notice that many foreigners with a common ethnical background talk to each other in Swedish instead of their mother tongue. At least this is what I have been observing a lot, and for me that’s one of the most important signs of being integrated. It’s very different in my hometown Berlin (where I currently am). Also, most Swedish people have accepted that whether somebody is ethnical Swedish or not doesn’t really play a big role in whether he or she is being perceived as “Swedish”. It’s only about if the common values and behavioural norms of the Swedish society are being shared. Personally I find that Germans still have much bigger difficulties in accepting somebody as “real German” if this person has an obvious different ethnical background. A couple of weeks ago, a liberal German politician questioned whether Germans would be ready for a vice chancellor with Asian appearance (which the country currently has). I don’t think this thought would even cross a liberal Swedish politicians mind. At least I hope. In 2007 a study proved that Sweden was the best European country in regards to helping migrants settle. Read the rest of this entry »