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Swedish Violent Extremism on the Rise
Practically on a daily basis now, Swedish cities are the scene of gang violence, politically motivated street violence and other forms of major disruptions of public peace and order. Criminal gangs engage increasingly in drive-by shootings and other forms of armed confrontations. Very radical political groups clash on a regular basis – it has now gotten to a point where they are so common that media rarely reports on them. You have to search for news on these clashes on Youtube and political blogs.
Organized crime has grown to a point where, a bit over a year ago, a high-ranking law enforcement officer warned that the country was being engulfed by crime gangs and police no longer could fight back. Since then, criminal gangs have expanded their territories, escalated and proliferated confrontations in public, and at least on one occasion cut off an entire housing project with road blocks where they, for two hours and without police interference, performed checks on every car going into the area.
In addition to the rapid and apparently unstoppable growth in organized crime, there is a very disturbing expansion in activities by violent political groups. Traditional leftist groups have the edge at this point, having been classified by the Swedish National Intelligence Service as the biggest threat to democracy and political stability. The most notorious among these groups are Anti-Fascist Action and The Revolutionary Front, both of which are very prone to violence and actively seek confrontations with groups they deem fascist, racist or Nazi. They also target government agencies that perform deportations of illegal immigrants.
As for their favorite political targets, there is plenty to choose from. Erroneously these groups have decided that the parliamentary, democratic party Swedish Democrats is a racist, fascist organization. The Swedish Democrats, in parliament since 2010 and currently polling as the third largest party in Sweden, is working to scale back Sweden’s comparatively large immigration and focus more on integrating immigrants into Swedish society. They also want to spend more resources on law enforcement and raise standards in Swedish schools (which, by the way, are currently ranked among the worst in Europe).
Politically, the Swedish Democrats are comparable to the Danish People’s Party, Austria’s People’s Party or UKIP in Britain. They are in no way comparable to fascist groups like British National Party or the National Democrats in Germany. But this is irrelevant to radical, violent leftist groups in Sweden, who seek confrontations with the Swedish Democrats as often as they can.
I do not support the policy platform of the Swedish Democrats. They want to scale back immigration in an effort to preserve the Swedish welfare state. I want to see the welfare state gone and, once that has been accomplished, free migration for everyone dedicated to freedom and self determination. But I also recognize that parties like the Swedish Democrats, playing by the rules of parliamentary democracy, should be allowed to operate on the same terms as other parties respecting the same rules of democracy and government.
This, however, is not the view of Sweden’s radical, increasingly violent and steadily growing radical left. Their contempt for parliamentary democracy is surpassed only by their hatred toward the Swedish Democrats as well as outright Nazi groups. The latter category of organizations is also in rapid expansion. Two groups, National Democrats and Swedish Resistance Movement, are folding into a third group, Party of the Swedes, whose origin is a now-defunct organization called National Socialist Front. The Party of the Swedes, an outright racist movement, is quickly becoming a major player and one of the strongest political movements outside of parliament. Despite their contempt for parliamentary democracy – a philosophy they share with the radical groups on the left – they are running candidates in local elections in September. Their ambition is to take seats on more than 30 of Sweden’s 290 city councils.
The unification of Sweden’s fascist, racist movements into one major party is a scary change of the political landscape. A large segment of the activists in Party of the Swedes have “street creeds” from confrontations with their anti-democratic peers from the communist fold. As both movements continue to gain strength, and their confrontations grow increasingly violent, the risk for political terrorism quickly increases. The next test on just how violent and dedicated these groups are will come on May 1 when Party of the Swedes are holding a big street rally in the city of Jönköping. Here is what happened the last time they did it:
In September 2013 the Party of the Swedes marched in Stockholm, with similar scenes of public disruption following. As this party gains in strength, both member-wise and in terms of political skills, they will be emboldened to show their presence more frequently and in larger numbers. A similar escalation will happen on the other side of the anti-democratic fringe.
All this, again, is happening while “traditional” organized crime is steadily expanding its control over larger and larger urban areas in Sweden’s major cities. Non-political crime is rising unrelentingly, even though government agencies try their best to disguise it. According to Nationmaster, a reliable tracker of international crime statistics (among many other things) Sweden’s murder rate – per million residents – is 50 percent higher than Italy and nine times higher than Germany. Rape crimes, also measured on a per-capita ratio basis, is more than five times higher than the EU average. Robberies are 16 percent more common than in the EU as a whole, with the Swedish robbery rate exceeding that of such high-crime countries as Jamaica and Colombia.
As part of reported crimes, Swedish police is one of the worst in the developed world on bringing criminals to justice.
A telling example from the ground: Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg is socio-economically and population-wise comparable to Cleveland, OH. The Ohio city is hardly known for its low crime, yet Gothenburg’s violent crime rate is 75 percent higher than that of Cleveland.
In a nutshell, public order and social stability are withering away in Sweden. Escalating political extremism, with its penchant for violence, is exacerbating the situation on an almost daily basis. With two elections – for the EU parliament in May and for national and local offices in September – there will be plenty of opportunities for the extremists to show their strength. We can only hope that their confrontations will not escalate and leave serious casualties. However, the way things are going now, I fear it is only a matter of time before political violence in Sweden will result in deaths and massive destruction of property, public order and social stability.
Videos on Swedish politics, in Swedish:
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