Two Bombings in One Night is the New Normal in Sweden

Two Bombings in One Night is the New Normal in Sweden. By Paulina Neuding in Sweden.

Sweden, which has a population of around 10 million, has the highest per-capita number of deadly shootings of 22 European countries. …

It may be shocking for Americans to learn that in Sweden — the land of IKEA, Spotify and Greta Thunberg — all of this is going on. Perhaps the reason you don’t know about it is because of the uncomfortable reality of how we got here.

Among shooting suspects, 85 percent are first- or second-generation immigrants, … as immigrant neighborhoods have become hotbeds for gang crime. National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg has described the violence as “an entirely different kind of brutality than we’ve seen before” and his deputy, Mats Löfving, says that 40 criminal clans now operate throughout the country.

Spreading fear are “humiliation robberies,” targeting children and youth, in which victims are subjected to degrading treatment by assailants, such as being urinated upon. Just this week, four men were sentenced for robbing, beating and urinating on an 18-year-old, who was also filmed by his tormentors.

Democracy in action:

All of which is why, for the first time ever, crime emerged as a top priority among voters ahead of this past weekend’s general election. Swedes made their concerns plain on Sunday, when they awarded the country’s most strident anti-immigration party more than 20 percent of the vote.

The Sweden Democrats, or SD, is now the second-biggest party in parliament, and the biggest party of the right-wing bloc — gaining more votes than the more traditional center-right Moderate party. …

Left’s fantasies and denial to blame:

So how did Sweden’s famously liberal electorate usher in a party with roots on the extreme right? In a word: denial.

In response to Sweden’s increasing problems with gang violence and social unrest in immigrant suburbs, the government’s strategy for many years was to deny how serious the situation had become. ​​In the meantime, those people who noticed the problem — many of whom were working class — and spoke out about their diminished safety were accused of racism by leading politicians, the mainstream press, and the cultural elites. Only one political party did not: the SD. And in election after election, they gained more and more popular support.

This is a story of what happens when the people who run things want to avoid confronting the consequences of their actions.

The Swedish left pictured Sweden as the world’s “humanitarian superpower”:

Sweden’s foreign-born population has doubled to 20 percent since 2000. No other country took in more immigrants per capita during the 2015 migration wave — from countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly 23 percent of Swedish adults were born abroad. (At the height of American immigration, in 1890 that statistic was slightly less than 15 percent.) And most asylum seekers have been men. In 2015, for example, 70 percent of those seeking refuge in Sweden were male. …

Police are struggling to maintain control of some 60 immigrant-majority neighborhoods — officially labeled “vulnerable areas” — where gangs and clans compete with the state for local authority.

Violence escalated past guns, to bombs:

A few years ago, hand grenades began appearing among criminal gangs in Sweden. Now, bombs are often home-made IEDs.

In the fall of 2019, a group of New Jersey police travelled to Stockholm to learn about the bombings first-hand. “I was shocked by the use of grenades in Sweden,” Rick Fuentes, former superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, told Svenska Dagbladet. “I’ve worked within the police for 40 years, and I’ve never heard or seen anything like it.” …

After a particularly powerful bomb exploded at a residential building on Östermalm, an affluent part of the Stockholm city-center, in January 2020, a victim told the press how he had been watching Netflix when the explosion sent him flying to the floor. Half his left ear was blown off; months later he still suffered from reduced hearing. His two children were so frightened by the attack that ever since they refuse to sleep by the window. …

The bombings have mainly been directed at objects — such as cars and buildings — rather than individuals, which explains why there haven’t been more deaths. …

The Swedish criminologist Amir Rostami has described Sweden’s bomb epidemic as part of a cycle of violence among criminal gangs, going back some 15 years: “First they shot at legs and behinds, then they started shooting each other, then there were more shots, pure executions, and humiliation of the victims. Now we have extreme amounts of explosions,” he told the newspaper DN in 2019.

As this development picked up speed, it was considered bad taste to suggest that immigration and failed integration had led to severe problems with crime — or even that crime was a growing problem at all.

Don’t these excuses sound familiar?

When stories started appearing about gang-rule and attacks on people going into immigrant neighborhoods, sometimes referred to as “no-go zones,” a government agency started a PR campaign to rename them “go-go zones.” The government had help from left-leaning Swedish media.

In 2015, the editorial page of Dagens Nyheter, for instance, said that people expressing alarm about crime were “safety-deniers,” and compared them to climate deniers. The Social Democratic publication Aftonbladet said in 2017 that the idea that Sweden needed to recruit more police officers was “populism at its worst,” given that “crime is declining”.

Meanwhile, the link between immigration and crime was turned into a taboo topic. …

Even in 2021, as Sweden’s problems had become all-too evident, the Aftonbladet columnist Jan Guillou claimed that warnings of gang violence were a matter of racism: “For the Swedish public, slippery bathtubs thus constitute a considerably larger threat than armed teenage gangs with the ambition of shooting each other.” In 2020, one person died in a bathtub in Sweden, while 48 were victims of gun homicide, according to official statistics. …

All I want is for my kid not to get kidnapped and peed on:

Right now, the usual people are condemning Swedish voters—or at least the 20 percent who went for the right-wing Sweden Democrats—as racists. …

To dismiss the party’s voters as “racists” is also to fundamentally misunderstand Sweden and what Swedes have been asked to normalize.

Friends with children in their teens and twenties tell me that the fear of crime shapes the lives of their kids and their friends. …

As an acquaintance told me the other day, when we were talking about the election: “All I want is for my kid not to get kidnapped and peed on.”

Possibly related: