Riots erupt in Sweden’s capital just days after Trump comments

Just two days after President Trump provoked widespread consternation by seeming to imply, incorrectly, that immigrants had perpetrated a recent spate of violence in Sweden, riots broke out in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in the northern suburbs of the country's capital, Stockholm.

The neighborhood, Rinkeby, was the scene of riots in 2010 and 2013, too. And in most ways, what happened Monday night was reminiscent of those earlier bouts of anger. Swedish police apparently made an arrest on drug charges at about 8 p.m. near the Rinkeby station. For reasons not yet disclosed by the police, word of the arrest prompted youths to gather.

Over four hours, the crowd burned about half a dozen cars, vandalized several shopfronts and threw rocks at police. Police spokesman Lars Bystrom confirmed to Sweden's Dagens Nyheter newspaper that an officer fired shots at a rioter but missed. A photographer for the newspaper was attacked and beaten by more than a dozen men and his camera was stolen.

Bystrom later said that a police officer was slightly injured and that one person was arrested for throwing rocks, news agencies reported. Some civilians were also assaulted while trying to stop looters, he said.

Bystrom said, “This kind of situation doesn’t happen that often, but it is always regrettable when they happen.”

In 2015, when the influx of refugees and migrants to Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia was at its peak, Sweden took in the greatest number per capita. By and large, integration has been a success story there, save for incidents such as Monday night's, which have taken place in highly segregated neighborhoods.

Dagens Nyheter analyzed crime statistics between October 2015 and January 2016 and concluded that refugees were responsible for only 1 percent of all crimimal incidents. That has done little to assuage perceptions, even among Swedes, that foreigners carry out the vast majority of crimes. A Pew Research Center study conducted in early 2016 indicated that 46 percent of Swedes believed that “refugees in our country are more to blame for crime than other groups.”

Trump clarified on Twitter that he drew his claim about immigrant violence in Sweden — made at a campaign-style speech in Melbourne, Fla. — from a Fox News segment in which two Swedish police officers were interviewed. The segment was part of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and featured filmmaker Ami Horowitz, who was introduced as someone who had documented an “incredible surge of refugee violence” in Sweden.

The two Swedish officers whose interview provided the basis for the report spoke out Monday and claimed that their testimony had been taken out of context. One of them, Anders Göranzon, said that the interview was about areas with high crime rates and that “there wasn’t any focus on migration or immigration.”

“We don’t stand behind it. It shocked us. He has edited the answers,” Göranzon said. “We were answering completely different questions in the interview. This is bad journalism.”

Horowitz defended his work to the Guardian newspaper, saying he was “pretty sure” that he told the officers what the segment was going to be about and implying that the officers' disavowal was made under pressure from their superiors.

Multiple criminologists in Sweden contacted by The Washington Post over the weekend said the notion that immigrants were responsible for a large proportion of crime in the country was highly exaggerated. None were comfortable referring to neighborhoods such as Rinkeby as “no-go zones.”

Nevertheless, the integration of immigrants into Swedish society is a problem that the government has been struggling to address. “Sweden, definitely, like other countries, [faces] challenges when it comes to integration of immigrants into Swedish society, with lower levels of employment, tendencies of exclusion and also crime-related problems,” said Henrik Selin, director of intercultural dialogue at the Swedish Institute.

A number of vehicles were set on fire in Rinkeby. AP


Sweden probes riot in mainly immigrant Stockholm suburb

Swedish police have launched an investigation after a riot erupted in a predominantly immigrant suburb of the capital, Stockholm.

One officer fired at rioters who threw rocks at police.

The unrest in the Rinkeby suburb on Monday night came after police tried to arrest a suspect on drugs charges.
It also comes after US President Donald Trump referred to Sweden in a speech on immigration problems, baffling Swedes about a non-existent incident.

Rioters, some of them wearing masks, threw rocks, set vehicles on fire and looted shops from about 20:00 (19:00 GMT) on Monday in Rinkeby, which has a history of unrest.

Warning shots were fired, but police later said one officer had also fired at least one shot at stone-throwers, a rare occurrence in Sweden.

No gunshot wounds were reported.

A number of other injuries were reported, including a shopkeeper.

A photographer from Dagens Nyheter said he was assaulted by a group of people when arriving to report on the unrest and spent the night in hospital.

The unrest subsided at about midnight.

Police spokesman Lars Bystrom said: "This kind of situation doesn't happen that often but it is always regrettable when it happens."

Sweden has seen urban unrest in some areas with large immigrant populations, where there have been job and integration issues.

'What has he been smoking?'

At a rally in Florida on Saturday, Mr Trump suggested Sweden could face the kind of terrorist attacks that have hit France, Belgium and Germany.

He said: "You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible."

The statement about a particular incident on Friday night baffled Swedes, including former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who tweeted: "Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?"

The hashtag #lastnightinSweden was soon trending on Twitter, and the Swedish embassy in Washington asked the state department for clarification.

Mr Trump later tweeted that his statement "was in reference to a story that was broadcast on FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden".

Some people suggest Mr Trump might have been referring to a clip aired on Fox News on Friday night of a documentary about alleged violence committed by refugees in Sweden.

Mr Trump continued with a tweet on Monday, saying: "The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large-scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!"

What is Sweden's refugee policy?

Sweden, with a population of about 9.5 million, saw a sharp increase in asylum seekers in 2015, with more than 162,000 people claiming asylum. Almost a third came from Syria.

With the influx, tensions also rose with some isolated attacks on immigrants, as well as pro- and anti-migrant demonstrations.

Sweden had been offering permanent residence to all Syrians but the high number of arrivals prompted a change in the rules.

The number of asylum applications dropped to 29,000 in 2016 after Sweden introduced new border checks incurring longer processing times, as well as financial incentives for migrants who voluntarily returned to their country of origin.

The killing of a 22-year-old woman in January 2016 by an asylum seeker based at the centre where she worked put further pressure on the government to reassess its approach.

How safe is Sweden?

Sweden has generally low crime rates.

Preliminary statistics from the Swedish Crime Survey (in Swedish) show only a marginal increase in 2016 from the year before. Fraud and crimes against individuals were up, but drugs crimes and theft had decreased.

The number of reported rapes increased by 13%, although that is still lower than the number reported in 2014 (6,700), as Sweden's The Local reports.

What about terror attacks?

There have been no terror attacks in Sweden since the country's open-door policy on migration began in 2013.

In 2010, two bombs detonated in central Stockholm, killing the attacker - an Iraq-born Swedish man - and injuring two others, in what police described as a terrorist attack.

In October 2015, a masked man who was believed to have far-right sympathies killed a teacher and pupil in a sword attack.

And in Malmo last October, a fire at a Muslim community centre was claimed by the Islamic State group - the incident was cited by the White House in the list of incidents it deemed "under-reported" by the media.

Separately, Sweden is believed to have the highest number of Islamic State fighters per capita in Europe. About 140 of the 300 who went to Syria and Iraq have since returned, leaving the authorities to grapple with how best to reintegrate them into society.


Sweden: Riots erupt in Stockholm neighborhood

Riots broke out in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood of Stockholm Monday night, as residents clashed with police officers and set vehicles on fire, Swedish police say.

Officers were forced to call in reinforcements when a crowd began to gather in the suburb of Rinkeby during the arrest of a suspect, according to a statement from Stockholm police.

Stockholm regional police chief Ulf Johansson said the clashes may have been a result of their "increased pressure on criminals in the area."

The clashes come days after US President Donald Trump suggested that immigrants in Sweden were to blame for an increase in crime across the country.

In recent years, Sweden has taken in more refugees per capita than any other European country, which has fueled tensions and caused a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment.

Warning shots fired by police

On Monday night in Rinkeby, several people threw stones at police, striking one officer in the arm. As the situation escalated, police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd and one shot at a rioter, a police spokesperson told CNN's Ivan Watson.

More riots erupted later in the evening, causing damage to shopfronts as well as instances of looting. A police spokesperson said 10 cars had been torched, but that order and security had been restored by midnight.

In recent years, Sweden has taken in more refugees per capita than any other European country, which has fueled tensions and caused a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment.

Warning shots fired by police
On Monday night in Rinkeby, several people threw stones at police, striking one officer in the arm. As the situation escalated, police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd and one shot at a rioter, a police spokesperson told CNN's Ivan Watson.

More riots erupted later in the evening, causing damage to shopfronts as well as instances of looting. A police spokesperson said 10 cars had been torched, but that order and security had been restored by midnight.
The area is known for its large immigrant population, but also for high levels of unemployment, Watson said.
Authorities have launched an investigation into the unrest.

"Of course it is very serious that the police officers are attacked when doing their job," Johansson said.

He added: "But I can assure that we are resilient and will not leave, rather intensify our work."

Large-scale riots in 2013
In an emailed statement to CNN, Swedish police said that while riots like those on Monday night are unusual, it is not the first time unrest has broken out in Rinkeby.

In 2013, large scale riots flared for a week in the Swedish capital, with gangs setting fire to schools and a police station.

In 2015, more than 160,000 people -- many from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan -- arrived in Sweden seeking asylum.

The country granted asylum to 101,025 refugees -- about 1% of the total population -- from 2012 to 2015.

In January 2016, a 22-year-old woman was murdered at the asylum center where she worked, leading to pressure on the government to curb the number of migrants coming into the country.

Trump links migrants and crime
At a rally in Florida on Saturday, the US President remarked: "You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible."

However, a former US ambassador told CNN that the country is perfectly safe regardless of the influx of refugees in recent years.

"The crime rate has not skyrocketed," Azita Raji told CNN's Chris Cuomo, citing data showing a weak correlation between terrorism and the migrations.

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