A closer look at the Swedish Government’s ”facts” about migration and crime

Recently, the Swedish government released a webpage with the title ”Facts about migration and crime in Sweden”. For reasons of brevity I will comment its first statements  and will then try to elaborate on how the government’s message can be characterised.

”Claim: ‘Sweden had its first islamic terrorist attack not so long ago’

Facts: The only known attempt at such an attack was in 2010. No one was harmed but the attacker”.

Additional facts: Check the Wiki site about the 2010 Stockholm bombings. It was pure luck and incompetence that this attack did not result in numerous casualties besides the bomber, Iraqi-born Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly. Foreign minister Carl Bildt said that if plans would have succeeded, results would have been ”truly catastrophic”.

Moreover, two other persons with Swedish residence and migrant backgrounds have been involved in islamic terrorist attacks on the continent: Osama Krayem (Syrian origin), previous resident of Malmö, in the Brussels bombings in 2016. Mohammed Belkaid who previously resided in Märsta and then fought for ISIS in Syria, took part in the planning on the attacks on Paris in 2015.

In addition, the BBC writes:

”Sweden is a peaceful democratic state that has long been a safe haven for those fleeing conflict. Yet many young people whose families took refuge there are now turning their back on the country. More than 300 people have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, making Sweden per capita one of the biggest exporters of jihadists in Europe”.

Claim: ”There has been a major increase in gun violence in Sweden.”

Facts: In general terms, violence has decreased in Sweden in the last 20 years. At the same time, surveys repeatedly show that people in Sweden and in other Western countries have a perception that violence is actually increasing. Perceptions of increased violence have been linked to the number of immigrants in Sweden. Nonetheless, research shows that there is no evidence to indicate that immigration leads to increased crime. Despite the fact that the number of immigrants in Sweden has increased since the 1990s, exposure to violent crimes has declined.

Additional facts: While this is true, the decrease has predominantly occurred within violence caused by hunting firearms. Swedish hunters tend to kill their families, friends or foes, less frequently than before. On the other hand, there has also been an increase in shootings with illegal weapons by criminal gangs. More info in this BRÅ report. Criminal gangs do not necessarily consist of migrants but also of children to migrants, and the proportion of gang members with a Swedish or Nordic background is small. However, statistics on ethnic backgrounds of those who do the shootings are unfortunately not reported, so the reader may relate to the government’s perception and my perceptions as estimates with different degrees of certainty. Neither of us knows for sure due to an unwillingness to relate ethnicity and crime in Swedish official statistics.

Claim: ”There has been a major increase in the number of rapes in Sweden.”

Facts: The number of reported rapes in Sweden has risen. But the definition of rape has broadened over time, which makes it difficult to compare the figures. It is also misleading to compare the figures with other countries, as many acts that are considered rape under Swedish law are not considered rape in many other countries.

Additional fact: It would be prudent by the Swedish government to acknowledge that the increase in cases filed for rape concurs with an increase in self-reported exposure to sex crimes. In fact, such figures have doubled for women in recent years (see graph below. Kvinnor: women).

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To not bore my readers, I will quit here. We can conclude that the government’s facts are incomplete and may at best be used as a basis for a wider discussion. This discussion is hampered by the unwillingness to release statistics relating ethnicity to crime. On its own, the government’s page may only serve as a biased cover-up in a futile attempt to control the image of Sweden abroad and within the country.

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