Racism in Sweden

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Racism and xenophobia have been reported and investigated in Sweden.[1] According to the European Network Against Racism, skin color, ethnic/religious background have significant impact on an individual's opportunities in the labor market, affecting mainly Roma, Blacks, Muslims, and Jews.[2] Some ethnic minorities, for example Jews in the city of Malmö, are also at larger risk to face threats and violence.[3]


The report Racism and Xenophobia in Sweden by the Board of Integration state that Muslims are exposed to the most religious harassment in Sweden. Almost 90% of the interviewed said they had witnessed verbal abuse directed at Muslims.[4] Historically, attitudes towards Muslims in Sweden have been mixed with relations being largely negative in the early 16th century,[5] improving in the 18th century,[6] and declining once again with the rise of Swedish nationalism in the early 20th century.[7] According to Jonas Otterbeck, a Swedish historian of religion, attitudes towards Islam and Muslims today have improved but "the level of prejudice was and is still high."[8] Islamophobia can manifest itself through discrimination in the workforce,[9] prejudiced coverage in the media,[10] and violence against Muslims.[11]


Sweden is home to several white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations, including:

Former organizations include:


Following Germany and Austria, Sweden has the highest rate of antisemitic incidents in Europe, although the Netherlands has reported a higher rate of antisemitism for some years.[12] A government commissioned study from 2006 estimated that 15% of Swedes agree with the statement: "The Jews have too much influence in the world today." A multinational public-opinion study that was carried out by the American Jewish Committee in March – April 2005 (Thinking about the Holocaust 60 Years Later) shows how the view that Jews exert “too much influence” on world events is more prevalent in Poland, Austria and Germany than in Sweden, but also indicates that Swedes agree with this statement to a similar extent as Americans and the British. In reference to the statement that the Jews “exploit” the Holocaust for their own purposes, the same study indicates that this view is more prevalent amongst Swedes than amongst Americans and the British but equally as prevalent amongst Austrians and the French.[13] 5% of the total adult population and 39% of adult Muslims "harbour systematic antisemitic views".[13] The former prime minister Göran Persson described these results as "surprising and terrifying." However, the rabbi of Stockholm's Orthodox Jewish community, Meir Horden, said that "It's not true to say that the Swedes are anti-Semitic. Some of them are hostile to Israel because they support the weak side, which they perceive the Palestinians to be."[14] Further, a new study conducted by the ADL showed greatly contrasting results with Swedish respondents indicating antisemitic tendencies among a mere 4% of the population.[15]

A record of 60 antisemitic attacks were reported in 2012 in the city of Malmö, up from an average 22 in the two years before that. 35 cases were reported in the first half of 2013, making it on pace to break the record. The Jewish community say that radical members of the Muslim population in the city are responsible for most of the attacks.[16]


In April 2016, Barbaros Leylani, the head of the Turkish Worker's Union in Sweden, referred to Armenians as "dogs" in a public speech in Stockholm, and added: "Turks awaken! Armenian scums must be finished, die Armenian scums, die, die!" (external link of speech (in Turkish))[17][18] Juridikfronten, a Swedish watchdog organization, filed a report to the police due to an "incitement to racial hatred". Thereafter, Leylani resigned from his post.[17]


  1. ^ Lappalainen, Paul (2007-05-08). "Institutional racism in Sweden and Europe" (PDF). Rijo research. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  2. ^ "… skin colour plays a decisive role in an individual’s opportunities in the labour market.""Responding to racism in Sweden" (PDF). European Network against Racism. p. 4. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  3. ^ For Jews, Swedish City Is a ‘Place To Move Away From’ by Donald Snyder, The Forward, Published July 07, 2010, issue of July 16, 2010.).
  4. ^ "Muslims are exposed to the most racial harassment in Sweden, according to a new report from the Board of Integration" "Muslims face most racism in Sweden". The Local:Sweden's news in English. 2005-10-25. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  5. ^ Otterbeck 2002, p. 143.
  6. ^ Otterbeck 2002, p. 145.
  7. ^ Otterbeck 2002, p. 146.
  8. ^ Otterbeck 2002, p. 149.
  9. ^ Bursell, Moa (2007). "What’s in a name? A field experiment test for the existence of ethnic discrimination in the hiring process" (PDF). Working Paper 2007:7. The Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies. ISSN 1654-1189. 
  10. ^ (Swedish) Diskrimineringsombudsmannen (2015), Representationer, Stereotype och Nyhetsvärdering: Rapport från Medieanalys om Representationer av Muslimer i Svenska Nyheter (PDF), Ödeshög: DanagårdLiTHO 
  11. ^ Gee, Oliver (2 January 2015). "Sweden's Islamophobia is getting stronger". The Local. Retrieved 21 May 2017. 
  12. ^ The 2005 U.S. State Department Report on Global Antisemitism.
  13. ^ a b Henrik Bachner and Jonas Ring. Antisemitic images and attitudes in Sweden. levandehistoria.se
  14. ^ Anti-Semitism, in Sweden? Depends who you're asking, Haaretz, 9 November 2007.
  15. ^ http://global100.adl.org/
  16. ^ In Malmo, record number of anti-Semitic attacks reported
  17. ^ a b "Insulting remarks about Armenia forces resignation in Sweden". Fox News. 11 April 2016. 
  18. ^ "Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem engaged in anti-Armenian racist activities in Europe’s heart". Armenpress. 11 April 2016. 

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