Sweden has hit back at criticism from US President Donald Trump, defending its generous immigration policies and saying the diversity from thousands of asylum seekers would build a stronger society.
Sweden’s image as a safe and stable society has come under close scrutiny in recent days after Trump appeared to refer to an attack there that had not happened and then tweeted that generous immigration policies were not working.
“The next time I hope the president, if he’s going to speak about Sweden, is better informed about what the conditions really are here,” Swedish Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson told Reuters in an interview.
Swedish unemployment figures continue to fall and public finances are in sound order, despite record number of immigrants, Johansson said.
This official view is not without its critics, however.
The leader of the nationalist Sweden Democrat party, vying for second place in the polls after seeing their support surge in recent years, wrote on Wednesday that far from overplaying the negative effects of immigration, Trump had understated them.
“Riots and social unrest have become a part of everyday life. Police officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel are regularly attacked,” Jimmie Akesson wrote in a Wall Street Journal article co-signed by Mattias Karlsson, the leader of the party’s parliamentary group. “Gang violence is booming.”
Akesson also said official crime statistics show a sharp rise in sexual attacks against women between 2014 and 2015.
This is true but the wider context is more complex, said Stina Holmberg of the Swedish Crime Prevention Council.
The council’s 2015 Crime Survey confirms that sexual crimes rose in that period, but only after trending downward from 2005 to 2012 before rising, she noted.
The figures do not show soaring crime of rising lawlessness among immigrants, she added.