Swedish suburbium becomes a part of the Trump media circus

A riot broke out in Stockholm soon after the US president said immigration was causing problems

You dont have to look very hard in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby to identify some of the problem youths who ran riot here. As automobiles were set on fire and police were pelted with stones on Monday, Rinkeby observed itself centre stage in the furore that followed Donald Trumps assert that immigration was bringing Sweden problems like they never guessed possible.

A gaggle of young men of Somali and east African origin hover around Rinkeby Grillen, a burger and kebab bar on the station car park where the riot happened.

I have this nice weed, grins the tallest of them, clothe in a thick hooded wintertime coat to ward off the icy climate. You can put that in your article: write Rinkeby is like Amsterdam. We all smoke this nice weed.

He then jokily claims participation in Mondays police skirmish. You can call me Hassan the stone thrower! he says, causing his friend, who calls himself Jamal Raheem, to hoot that was real good, human, in a variant of English that will be familiar to anyone who lives in London.

What is immediately apparent about these young men is that they havent imported their problem culture to Sweden from the poverty-stricken districts of Afghanistan or the bombed-out suburbs of Aleppo, but from the US and the UK. A lot of them were born in Britain, says Amir Zujovic, part of the large police presence keeping the peace in the suburbium. Its not unusual if you catch someone selling medications, when you look at their record, you see that they have also committed crimes in England.

These young men are revelling in “members attention” they have been getting since international Tv crews and journalists arrived, many seeking to portray the suburbium as a lawless, crime-ridden disaster area. This thing has been very big, we have become very famous, screams one who refuses to give his name. Weve had Australian Tv, American TV, everybody!

The riot came after two days in which Trump had been ridiculed for telling his supporters: You look at whats happening last night in Sweden, in spite of the fact that nothing of any significance had happened.( It subsequently emerged he had been referring to a clip from a documentary on Fox News .)

So when some youths fought off the police who had come to arrest a local rapper, and then spent the next hour torching a handful of cars, breaking into a branch of Lidl and assaulting a photographer, it got blanket coverage.

And on Friday, Trump himself quoth it as proof that he had been right all along. I took a lot of heat on Sweden. And then a day subsequently I said: Has anybody reported whats going on? And it turned out not too many of them did, he said in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. The people over there understand Im right.

In fact, while many people in Sweden probably believed the 160,000 asylum seekers the country took in in 2015 was too many, few would agree that the country is facing insurmountable problems as a result. Trumps statements first forced the Swedish foreign ministry to make an official request for clarification, and then, on Thursday, to launch a new English-language web page, Facts about Migration and Crime in Sweden, which reports that crime in Sweden has been falling for 20 years, despite high levels of immigration.

On Friday, the former rightwing “ministers ” Carl Bildt wrote a comment article, The Truth about Refugees in Sweden, in which he argued that the 100,000 refugees Sweden took from Bosnia when he was in power had constructed Sweden a better country. I regret that President Trump is slandering our country in his attempts to find reasons for what he wants to do in closing off the United States, he wrote. If it were not for the massive turmoil that could ensue, I would exhort him to skip one of his golfing weekends and come to us and assure for himself.

Many local people are also upset by the tone of much of the coverage. Police officer Hanif Azizi told Mail Online: When we sat in the car and considered the riots, I tapped my colleague on the shoulder and said, perhaps Trump was right after all. But he is anxious to point out that is not all he said. Its quite unfair when they take one sentence and leave everything else out, he says. I get really sad when I see that they are trying to twisting everything to fit a political agenda.

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A policeman analyse a burnt-out auto in Rinkeby after the riot last week. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/ Reuters

Azizi believes immigration has been good for Sweden. If it wasnt for the open immigration policy I wouldnt even be in Sweden, so Im for it, he says. If Trump was talking about immigration, then hes wrong.

Rinkeby is a nice place, thats what I guess, says Julianna, 13, who has come out of her music class at Kvarnby elementary school in an exuberant mood, along with her friends Tiffany, Zeinab, Gabriella, Brkti and Melissa and their educator, Ulrik Dahl. Ive lived here all my life, everybody here takes care of each other, its like a big family.

People who dont live here, they say here that its a terrible place, but they dont know anything, Tiffany chips in. I like it here in Rinkeby. Rinkeby is the best.

While the 2,405 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in the Rinkeby-Kista district last year make it the most dangerous place in Stockholm outside the city centre, the rate still sits below a reported violent crimes rate of 2,900 per 100,000 for the UK as a whole. But it is undoubtedly true that delinquency is a problem, particularly at night. During the working day, Rinkeby is pretty much like any other region, Azizi says. But during the evening, a certain group of people are taking over the central region, and people are afraid of them.

A white Bosnian woman and a Polish resident, both of whom declined to be named, say they tried to stay away from the centre at night. I dont ordinarily come out in the evening because there are a lot of young people who come out and stand around everywhere, the Polish woman says. Were always looking to move from here, because its no place for a small child.

I wouldnt recommend anyone else to come here, says the Bosnian woman, who has lived here since 1993. They robbed my flat, they have stolen my childrens bicycles, they assault me, they block me from going into my building.

Residents who report the young men dealing cannabis or robbing stores around the underground station risk being beaten up, Azizi says. But for him the most worrying development is that more and more of them have access to weapons. During the last one or two years, there have been major shootings in our region, Azizi says. We didnt have these kinds of murders before.

In December, two men walked into Kaffe Mynta, a eatery in the Rinkabystrket shopping arcade, and shot dead two brothers. The cafe proprietor Jamal Ziani, 46, who came to Rinkeby from Morocco when he was six, is astonishingly sanguine, pointing out that it was only the second shooting in Rinkeby in five years.

Its not a big deal. Rinkebys a really calm place if you compare it to places outside, say, Paris, he says. But he too is a little fretted at the emergence of gangster culture. The thing that they have in the US is starting to come to Europe now, that whole crook thing, with the music and everything.

Mondays riot was a case in point. Police had come to take a celebrated local rapper who had been charged with carrying a firearm into custody.

Tomas Acar, a former boxer turned youth worker who knew the murdered friends well, blames this outlaw mentality on segregation. I would guess that the only Swedish people they know are the teachers in school, but outside school I would say they have no ethnic Swedish friends at all, he says. In some cases they feel anger, they feel “they il be” being discriminated against.

Rinkeby arguably has worse problems with segregation than even immigrant the sectors of London and Paris, with more than 90% of people living here either being born abroad or having parents who were.

Sweden has the most ethnically segregated cities of all the groups of countries in the OECD, says Irene Molina, prof of culture geography at Swedens Uppsala University, although she points out that the generous welfare nation entails there is less of the poverty you assure elsewhere.

But even the troublemakers here admit that what they get up to is small fry compared with what goes on in bigger cities. Rinkeby is not dangerous, says Jamal Raheem, who says he is on a two-week vacation from his home in east London. Its entirely over the top. Its a lot more dangerous in Stratford.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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