Swedish right-wingers exploit refugee problem

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/24 22:23:39

After the Chinese tourist row in Sweden, Sweden's Sveriges Television (SVT) aired a show on Friday that verbally abused China and the Chinese people, arousing protest from within and without Sweden. The Chinese Embassy in Sweden over the weekend issued a safety alert for Chinese tourists against theft and robbery. Sweden seems to be no longer the highly civilized country that Chinese tourists once admired.

This is no casual thing. Sweden has taken in the highest number of migrants per capita among European countries. The total number peaked in 2015 when 163,000 asylum seekers flooded the country. While it takes a huge amount of local resources to help these migrants settle down, migrants often find it difficult to integrate with mainstream culture in their host country due to problems such as language and race, and feel isolated and estranged. The rapidly expanding migrant group makes residents feel threatened and dissatisfied, leading to discrimination. Populism is thereby boosted, with growing resentment against foreigners.

In an opinion poll conducted by market research firm Ipsos in February, 60 percent of 1,030 Swedish voters interviewed said they wanted Sweden to take in fewer refugees. When the same survey was conducted in 2015, prior to the peak in refugee arrivals in Europe later that year, 36 percent said they would like to reduce the number of refugees taken in by Sweden, according to Swedish media The Local. This plays into the hands of right-wingers. Europeans, who take for granted their superiority over other cultures, now feel impaired and want a comeback through anti-immigration parties.

In the Swedish general elections held on September 9, immigration and law and order took center stage. The far-right Sweden Democrats capitalized with 17.6 percent of the votes, a rate they have never received before despite their rapidly rising support in recent years. This implies an unpleasant change is taking place, combined with the popularity of far-right parties in other European countries.

In his book Identity: The demand for dignity and the politics of resentment US political scientist Francis Fukuyama attempts to explain the phenomenon. In the past century while increasing attention was given to marginal groups, the majority found their identity eroded and wanted it back leading to identity competition and increasing popularity of right-wingers. This has become a prominent challenge in many democratic countries.

Sweden used to be a perfect country in the minds of some Chinese. But in today's world, it's more than astonishing to hear such ugly words on SVT. What can Chinese tourists do in this context? Behave yourself, prepare for your trip and perhaps be more cautious in choosing your travel destination. 

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